Reliving Star Control – Ur Quan Masters HD released
Playing games for free is always appealing; playing games considered among the best of all time for free is mind-blowing. Thanks to the development teams behind Ur Quan Masters, and the enhanced HD version released recently, it may be time for that that mind to be blown.
Ur-Quan Masters is probably better known by another name – Star Control 2. Released in 1992 on the PC and the 3DO, Star Control 2 lives on as a part of many “greatest games of all time” lists, combining exploration, diplomacy, resource gathering and combat – in many ways sounding like a check-list for Mass Effect more than a decade before that series began.
Now, it’s at this point I’m expecting thinking to be heading one of two ways – “sounds good, let’s go!” or “… wait – free? What’s the catch?”. Getting from a commercial release to the current free one is a mildly tangled web. In 2002, the original creators of the game released the code of the 3DO version as open source. However, the name “Star Control” itself was still held by Accolade, who’d been acquired by Infogrammes in 1999 before becoming Atari – and Atari renewed their copyright on the title in 2007.
Thus to avoid legal clashes the game came to be known by a different name, but the aim of the community was the same – to port and update the game into something for modern systems, done entirely by volunteers.
The Ur-Quan Masters HD is, as the name suggests, a port that provides HD graphics for the game. While the 1280×960 resolution may sound humble to claim HD these days, it is still four times the dimensions of the original; and the release also promises the addition of “new features and new artwork”. While still technically listed as an alpha release on its SourceForge page, the game should also be complete and playable, being built on the 0.7.0 release of the main Ur-Quan Masters project.
Current releases are for Windows and OS X, although further ports are promised. So, if you fancy reliving one of the most praised games of all time, and are not put off (or made to feel old) by the thought of playing something that is at heart over two decades old, Ur-Quan Masters HD is waiting for you on its SourceForge page here.