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About the Story
In the early twenty-second century, an immense alien spacecraft, dubbed the "Artifact," arrives in the Earth's solar system. The Artifact ignores all attempts at communication; no one knows whether its intentions are good or ill.
Set in the world of Frederik Pohl's Heechee novels, Gateway 2 is a thoroughly enjoyable text/graphics game with clever puzzles. It's also considered by some to be the end of an era: the last text-based adventure game to share store shelves with its graphical brethren at the beginning of the multimedia explosion. However, if you want to play it, you're out of luck. The demo available at the Archive isn't even interactive. It's just a slideshow of the graphics accompanied by a partial plot summary.
-- Carl Muckenhoupt
Adventure Classic Gaming
While there is little new or inspired in gameplay from this game, for what it does it does damn well. There are some real moments in the game where you feel the tension, especially when the terrorists are out to get you and you are working on limited time! Overall, the game moves at a nice pace that is neither too fast nor too slow. Furthermore, the puzzle design is almost perfect, with only few dead-ends. Most puzzles, if not all, are straightforward and very logical. The puzzles in this game may be a challenge for a novice player. There are some real brainteasers, but in the end there is not a puzzle that does not have a logical and believable solution. This is also a game that holds deep in my heart, as there are a lot of fun gadgets to play with in the form of advanced Heechee artifacts.
-- Joshua Mintzer
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This game is indeed very solid work. All events tied tightly, no holes in the plot, good development of characters (NPC and PC), writing without spelling errors. [...] All the puzzles are story based (!) and logical! The game gives you enough hints to ensure your attention to detail, and I like it this way. The first part of the game is easy, but then sometimes you need to scratch your head before doing the next turn. You can get in an unwinnable situation, but these (errr...) alternative endings are richly described and even worth playing. So save often and keep old save files. On the other hand, if you want to get a long story, "Gateway 2" turns to be very linear, but it is well done and you don't notice its linearity as long as you don't want Zork-like cave exploring.
-- Stas Starkov
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However, a game doesn't get good ratings through graphics and music, it's the puzzles that are important and Gateway II, sadly, falls down in that department. The game, by being divided into sections and, in the case of the zoos on the Artifact, sub-sections, which must be travelled through one by one, is very linear. The storyline isn't as good as the first game either and the ending is a bit of a let-down.
But I DID like the Kords!
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Number of Reviews: 1
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In your previous Gateway adventure, you saved Earth from the Assassins out of pure altruism. That you also got a gazillion space-dollars for it means that you can now afford comfortably lounging in one of your penthouses on the 300th floor of a San Francisco skyscraper, living the easy life.
But what's this? Suddenly you get a call from the chief of the Corporation. A starship has been sighted on the far edges of the solar system. Because of your previous alien experiences, they want you to train the ambassador for a diplomatic mission.
And what's this? You get a second call warning you that a religious sect has sent a squad to kill you, hoping to sabotage the diplomatic mission and travel to the Artifact (as the alien starship is known) themselves.
From this moment on, you are sucked into a fast and thrilling adventure to save Earth once more, from multiple enemies at the same time.
Gateway 2 - Homeworld is extremely well paced. The first chapter is a race against time and against the terrorists who want to claim the FTL-ship. You have to get your sequence of actions just right while you hear the sect members closing in on your radio. Very gripping.
In the next chapters, the tempo goes down a bit, leaving more breathing space for exploration and wonderment. The driving force of the story remains strong though. I found myself solving puzzles not just "to read/ find out what will happen next", but to genuinely solve a problem and help the NPCs in-game. The motivation came less from being an interested reader and more from being involved in the events in the game-world.
On the surface, the story is an action and adventure-packed SciFi romp. You fly different spacecraft to various alien worlds, solving the problems at hand with a variety of futuristic tech-gadgets.
Somewhat deeper in the game though, through dialogues with and lectures to Heechee NPCs, thoughtprovoking themes come up. There is a philosophical/theological debate about death, resurrection and personhood with a learned alien priest. At a certain point, you are asked to give lectures about Earth to the aliens, and these go into ecological issues like overpopulation and depletion of resources. In another lecture, your character talks about human tribe mentality and nationalism as an obstacle to solving societal problems. All pretty deep.
Don't let this spook you though. The dialogues are all menu-based and the different options mostly don't matter much, making room for some comic relief in your choice of responses. The lectures are cutscenes, so if you get bored, just spacebar them away. Still, I liked the depth of themes and it had me pondering the issues after the play-session.
The core of the game still consists of the "simple" task of exploring strange new worlds and defeating the bad guys by overcoming the obstacles.
Gateway 2 goes even further than the first game in putting you in many different settings: a huge spaceship/zoo (yes, i said "zoo"), an ice world and the Heechee homeworld. While the settings are very diverse, each one of them has a rather small map. This is a great design choice. It helps keep the fast pace of the story going, and it makes for straightforward and tight puzzle spaces.
The puzzles and obstacles all fall on the easier side. They are more entertaining and involving than frustrating. They don't take you out of the story while you're thinking and reasoning about possible solutions. They are all well clued, or as I like to put it: because of the limited number of available objects and the smallish settings, the possibillity-tree is well trimmed.
As in part 1, the pixel art is great and adds a lot to the playing experience. In this part, gameplay does depend a bit more on using the mouse to interact with different keypads, locks, and menus. (Or, if you want, you can busy yourself moving a mouse-cursor with the arrow-buttons on your keyboard. Just saying, the option is there...)
Gateway 2 - Homeworld had me really involved in its SF story for a week. A magnificent otherworldly adventure.
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A tribute to Anchorhead.
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