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E.S.S. Mega (a.k.a. European Space Simulator Mega)

Probably the most obscure game ever made by quirky French developer Coktel Vision (Gobliiins, Lost in Time). E.S.S. Mega (a.k.a. European Space Simulator Mega) is a lackluster space shuttle simulation that tries hard to strike a balance between realism and playability, but doesn't quite succeed.

To be sure, the game has a lot going for it. There is a lot of eye-catching 3D-modelled graphics that makes Virgin's venerable Shuttle look like a kindergarten coloring book. There's a wealth of information in the in-game space database, and quite a lot of gameplay depth. In contrast to the mission-based structure of Shuttle), E.S.S. Mega is one long campaign that is similar to Buzz Aldrin's Race into Space, but with emphasis on micro-level decisions (e.g. how much fuel to carry) then macro-level space program policies. You will first equip the space shuttle with cargo, crew, and energy. Then you will launch, pilot, and land it on a "shuttle carrier." When your shuttle is safely orbiting Earth, you will send up and maintain satellites, build and manage a space station. All in a day's work.

Although the separate parts of the game are well thought out, the game as a whole comes across as a repetitive, "dry" simulation that won't hold anyone's interest for long. The game is quite linear in a sense that once you try out every option, there's no leeway to try a different approach. There is only one (or at most, a few) combinations of cargo, crew, energy, and other options that will succeed, and lack of random elements that make Buzz Aldrin challenging. Overall, worth a look for space buffs, but only for historical interest as one of the rarest space simulations.

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E.S.S. Mega (a.k.a. European Space Simulator Mega) screenshot
E.S.S. Mega (a.k.a. European Space Simulator Mega) screenshot

People who downloaded this game have also downloaded:
Earth Orbit Stations, Executive Suite, Begin 2: A Tactical Starship Simulation, Business Simulator, AEGIS: Guardian of the Fleet

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