Ten years have passed since you saved the human race from certain doom, in Frederick Pohl's Gateway. You're now retired, and with fifty million dollars in your bank account you have little to worry about. But just as you're busy enjoying your retirement a giant object appears out of nowhere and settles next to Pluto. It's promptly named the artifact as it's theorized that it's a Heechee spaceship. It's too far away to say for certain, though, so the UN decides to dispatch a spaceship carrying an ambassador to investigate. Guess what; you're not that ambassador, but you are called upon to brief the ambassador before departure. Unfortunately a sect of terrorists attack you before the briefing can take place and you're forced to escape into the ship assigned to take the ambassador to The Artifact. Liftoff...this is where your adventure begins.
Legend Entertainment's Gateway 2: Homeworld was released in 1993 and pretty much picks up the story where it ended in the first one, which is sure to please all fans of the original. And not only does the quality of the storyline match that of the first game, it exceeds it by far. As with the first game, Gateway 2 is based on Frederick Pohl's Heechee Saga novels, but this time the story is much deeper, so if you felt a little empty after playing the first game and have been longing to find out more about the Heechee, you will definitely want to get your hands on this one. The length of the game has also been increased (which would be a necessity for making the story deeper, since the first game was fairly short), and if you've played the first game, you might expect this one to end at any moment...but it doesn't. It just keeps on going, sucking you deeper and deeper into the compelling storyline. Obviously it does end at some point, but when it does you won't be complaining that it was too short, like many people did with the first game.
The interface is excactly the same as in the first Gateway, and is similar to that of a number of other Legend Ent. games, like Eric the Unready and the Spellcasting series. This means that it's basically a text game, but that you're also presented with pictures of the location you're currently in and a choice to use the mouse to combine words rather than typing them. This time Legend has taken it a little further, though, as the graphics are no longer "unnecessary". In the first Gateway, you didn't actually need the graphics to play the game, but this one contains puzzles that involves the graphics, and when you talk to people you now get a fullscreen image of them along with some dialog options to choose between, much like in regular adventure games, rather than having to type your question. Also, the graphics are now even better than in the first game, with plenty of beautiful cutscenes, which is sure to please people who would usually frown at the words "text based adventure". It all works very well, and helps to make this game even better than the first one.
The musical side of the game has also been improved immensely. It's no masterpiece, and fades a bit into the background, but still manages to set the mood of the game. This may sound mediocre, but the fact that the music fades into the background, almost making you forget that it's there, means that it doesn't stand out in an annoying way. This is the real test of game music; will you leave it on, or turn it off in frustration, before it causes you to go insane? Gateway 2 passes that test. Gateway didn't. Enough said.
It should be clear by now that Gateway 2: Homeworld has been improved in all the areas where Gateway was lacking, but what about Gateways strong points? Are they still there? Well, the story of the game is, as noted, even better than in the first one, but Gateways real strong point was its excellent puzzles, every single one with a very logical solution. This hasn't changed. Gateway 2 doesn't feature a single puzzle that doesn't have a logical solution. There are also hints for many of the puzzles, spread throughout the game if you're observant. This means that there are no ponts in the game where you have to start randomly using the objects you're carrying with objects in the gameworld. Granted, you could do that, but you'd do better to start paying attention to your surroundings, and think rationally about the problem you're facing. As a consequence the game isn't overly difficult, as long as you pay attention and think about what you're doing, but neither is it too easy.
Although Gateway 2 is a sequel, you don't actually need to have played the first game before playing this one. It is recommended, however, since you'll have more background knowledge that way, and it'll add to the experience of the story. And besides, the first one is damn good, too. This one gets the score of five out of five possible, for being a more than excellent sequel, and improving on all aspects of the fist game. Honestly, I'm hard pressed to find a single flaw in the game. If anything, it would be that it leaves you wanting more, and since Legend no longer exists it's unlikely a third Gateway will ever be made.
The manual and a hintbook are included in the game archive. It should be noted that this version is the full cd version of the game, including all cutscenes (there's no speech, and there never was).
The game works in WinXP, albeit without sound. It works well in either DOSBox or VDMSound, so either of those is recommended. The game should be run from C:Gateway2 (if you don't like that you can change it in the Legend.ini file).
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