Like MegaTraveller: The Zhodani Conspiracy, its sequel MegaTraveller 2: Quest For the Ancients is based on the the excellent Traveller pen-and-paper role-playing game, or to be more exact, on its MegaTraveller version; Traveller's creators have been actively involved in these two computer games' development, and it shows. And when I say "it shows", I mean it - anything from the detailed plot and the manual, through the worlds and aliens encountered and to the specific weapons and tools, is taken from the pen-and-paper game; this attention to detail is one of the game's strengths, especially if you are (like me) a fan of the pen-and-paper version of Traveller. Even if you haven't heard anything about Traveller before, you will enjoy these details.
The attention to detail, however, is both a blessing and a curse - MegaTraveller 2 is quite a complex game, and the interface is somewhat cumbersome. I would suggest you to read the manual before playing, as it explains the ins and outs of the game and makes gameplay far easier, not to mention the fact that the long background sections of the manual are a good read.
Character generation uses an almost exact copy of the MegaTraveller system, and is based on 4-years terms occuring during each character's history. Many careers can be chosen from, as well as two races (Humans and the canine Vargr), but in the end a character is measured by her skills not her career. However, as the character generation system was also intended to be used to generate characters for the pen-and-paper game as well. Many skills that you might choose or recieve during character generation are not used in the game; fortunately, the manual lists the skills which are used in the game, and I would recommend you to print out that table from it. Also, several pre-generated characters are provided, some of them quite good (one even has alot of money and a good starship), so you could skip the character generation sequence if you want.
Graphics are a major improvement from MegaTraveller 1, are quite good for 1991 (well-drawn 256-color art), and capture the feel of the Traveller universe quite well. The interface has also improved, and now works with the mouse, but is still a bit cumbersome. Interstellar flight and combat have been greatly simplified, and are fully menu-driven.
The main plot involves a search for alien artifacts left behind by the Ancients race (who have destroyed themselves in a massive war 300,000 years ago) in order to stop an Ancient site on the world of Rhylanor from covering the entire planet with toxic sludge. In addition, there are many subquests, several of them per world, ranging from small-scale trade opportunities and bounty hunting to solving crimes and saving kidnapped persons. Every world has several cities on it (you could travel by foot, rent a vehicle, or catch a flight or a train between cities), and most cities have active NPCs (coloured in green) in them that could give you miniquests or hints.
All in all, once you get over its complexity abnd the somewhat cumbersome interface, MegaTraveler 2: Quests for the Ancients is an excellent game, rich in details and plot, that could keep you playing for many, many hours of enjoyment.
Answers to the game's copy-protection questions are included in a text file located in the main game ZIP, or in the extras box below the game details.
Part of the MegaTraveller Series