In the far future, the Alliance Of Free Stars laces slavery at the hands of the Ur-Quan Hierarchy (ie, a bunch of war mongering aliens). Steps have been taken to null the threat of galactic war, and it's as controller of either the Alliance or Hierarchy that you battle for dominance.
The first job is to set the options. These are: one or two players (the computer stands in for player two, if necessary), Cyborg (computer fights battles for you), Psytron (computer decides your strategy) and difficulty level.
There are three modes of play. Practice allows you to familiarise yourself with ship-to-ship combat, Melee is a fight to the death between the two sides without the strategic element, and Full Game gives you the whole shooting match.
In Full Game, both forces are given a starbase and a large wad of cash. The point of the exercise is to reach the opposition's starbase and destroy it. The sides take it in turns to build ships and move them to various planets. Some are life supporting and so populations can be built up, others have mining potential, whilst a third type are barren but make good fortified bases. Obviously, the sides are going to clash sometimes, and such encounters bring up a starfield and the two competing ships.
The winner of the game is the first player to reach and annihilate the opposition's starbase - and may the best man win!
Star Control certainly has potential. It's playable for a while, although the ability for the computer to take over the combat/strategy parts of the game spoils the fun (for me at least). The graphics aren't great but as the basis of the game is using your brain rather than your trigger finger, it doesn't really matter. A rather more serious fault is the game's lack of depth; it's all too easy to build ships and then, when you're strong enough, attack the enemy in force. A few more options and greater depth would have made Star Control a great game rather than a good one.
MARK ... 75%
'Star Control is not your average space game. I was expecting scrolling landscapes, hordes of aliens and mega-weapons in a general shoot-'em-up setting. What did I find? Tiny spaceship graphics, lots of text and a strategy-style game. The only arcade element is when a conflict arises: two ships fly around, Asteroids style, shooting everything on the screen. This doesn't mean there isn't a good game there, though. People with brains will have a field day, so if you want a game that you have to sit down and think about, Star Control could be just your cup of tea.'