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FS2 Open for playing Freespace 2 on modern systems had a big update

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One I'm genuinely surprised I missed (Hat tip to Timo) is a big update to FS2 Open, the project that continues updating the game engine for Freespace 2 - one of the best space action games ever. While it's not technically open source, Volition did give the code to the community to keep it alive.

Version 19.0.0 went up in January and it's quite a big one too. It pulls in various OpenGL optimisations with animations now using texture arrays and "model uniforms get sent to the GPU using uniform buffers for less overhead" plus other apparently minor graphics changes. There's also now full Unicode text support, pilot files now use JSON instead of the old custom binary format, support for the Discord Rich Presence API, they added support for displaying decals on the surface of an object and loads more. Wonderful to see it alive and well!

Along with the update to the FS2 Open game engine, they also put up a refresh of their MediaVPs. These are the extra files you can download and enable, which contain all of the enhanced artwork and graphics that take advantage of the new capabilities of the FS2 Open. The MediaVPs update includes new animations, new sound effects and even more high-resolution art. If you've never played it with the MediaVPs, it really does make Freespace 2 look a lot better.

Note: You do need to have the original data files for Freespace 2, you can pick up a copy easily on GOG.com.

See the FS2 Open update announcement here (plus GitHub). Thankfully they're using an AppImage now so running FS2 Open is reasonably easy across distributions. Also see the MediaVPs update post here.

To this day, the gameplay still holds up well. See one of our classic videos on it below:

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6 comments

NeoTheFox 11 February 2020 at 12:42 pm UTC
Oh nice, I've been sitting on this game for a while now. It's one of the best games to play with a Joystick/HOTAS setup, to this day even. Guess that's my queue to finish it.
Ananace 11 February 2020 at 5:17 pm UTC
NeoTheFoxOh nice, I've been sitting on this game for a while now. It's one of the best games to play with a Joystick/HOTAS setup, to this day even. Guess that's my queue to finish it.

And I suggest having a playthrough of the Blue Planet campaign afterwards, definitely one of the best community campaigns you'll find, especially War in Heaven has some amazing missions and story. (Including missions where you get to fly capital ships)
Patola 12 February 2020 at 6:30 am UTC
Very good game for its time but we are already in the Space Legs age...
Liam Dawe 12 February 2020 at 9:39 am UTC
PatolaVery good game for its time but we are already in the Space Legs age...
Not everyone wants to get out and walk around though. Some of us love the combat. That's why different games and styles are good, it's not a one-size fits-all approach and doesn't need to be.
Patola 12 February 2020 at 10:07 am UTC
Liam Dawe
PatolaVery good game for its time but we are already in the Space Legs age...
Not everyone wants to get out and walk around though. Some of us love the combat. That's why different games and styles are good, it's not a one-size fits-all approach and doesn't need to be.
Sure. But if it doesn't follow technological progress and new possibilities adopted by dozens of competing titles, it becomes more and more a niche/preference thing, instead of a generalized title of "one of the best space action games ever"...


Last edited by Patola on 12 February 2020 at 10:10 am UTC
Liam Dawe 12 February 2020 at 10:10 am UTC
PatolaSure. But if it doesn't follow technological progress and new possibilities adopted by dozens of competing titles, it becomes more and more a niche thing, instead of "one of the best space action games ever"...
I think honestly this is just your bias for it showing. You don't have to be able to get out and walk around, to be classed as having progress. All games are different. Freespace does not and has never needed you to get out and walk around. It's also about doing one thing and doing it well, something other games could learn from before putting lots of unfinished and rough feeling features in ;)

We have genres for a reason, not everything needs to be a do-everything sim.


Last edited by Liam Dawe on 12 February 2020 at 10:12 am UTC
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