+++ Excellent Music
++ Space Flight controls well
++ Good amount of mission and environmental variety
+ Graphics are good enough to still be playable
+ Developed by Psygnosis
+ Solid Voice acting
+ Competent Storyline
+ Impressive Scale
+ Intuitive weaponry
- Fairly Easy
- Not as long as the two previous games in the series
- Cutscenes are 5 seconds long
- Can get repetitive
I picked up this game quite randomly way back when, but I must have played through it more than once. As I went through the first 10 missions or so in preparation for this review I recalled pretty much every voice in every cutscene so while I don't remember actually doing it I must have played through this game multiple times. This may be the sole reason I look forward to space combat games, as most newer flight based games have painful controls and try to simulate reality, wherein no fighter jet ever shoots down another that goes the same speed. Air Superiority fighters are simply too fast to control well and don't make for very fun gameplay, the same is true of Rogue Squadron for the Gamecube. Of course that game got very high scores through some magical means, despite being a pain in the ass to control and only being 10 missions long. This game on the other hand is about 50 missions long.
I played until the first semi-difficult mission and still enjoyed the satisfying sound of blowing up a huge ship with my miniscule fighter (and the graphics were certainly still bearable). I was worried about not having analog control but the game still functioned quite well even having not played ti for ages. While Crimson Skies: High Road to Revenge was pretty fun, Rogue Squadron failed miserably in that regard. From memory I recall this game having a few pretty tough missions but always winning in a similar fashion by simply flying as far away as possible and unloading my strongest missile weapons at whatever was giving me trouble, provided the mission involved blowing up a huge ship. There's one mission I recall where two factions go to war (while neither side is actually the evil antagonist behind the scenes) and there are 10-20 Capital ships on either side which was always very impressive, and I'm also fairly sure you had a choice of which side to blow up.
Another thing that makes this game (and earlier games in the series) shine is the variety of weapons, you can get over 40 different things attached to your ship to enhance shield regeneration, damage exclusively shields, damage the hulls of opponents, or to damage both. Flares, which are almost a necessity, deter oncoming missiles which set off an alarm when they're launched at you. There are also grapple beams, stunning weapons, and a variety of other weapons/tools available for your use.
Opposing Ships and other enemies may have turrets mounted upon them which you can destroy independent of the carrying device. One of the missions I did required you to blast the turrets off the back of relatively docile animals without actually killing them, which I thought was pretty creative. It is quite the shame that the space combat genre has fallen by the wayside and Call of Duty can still manage to sell 10 million copies in a couple of months without changing anything at all about the series. Alas, at least the PS2/PSX's massive libraries still have plenty of secrets to hold.
The developer for this game, Psygnosis, made numerous games for the PSX before moving on to just racing games for the PS2/PS3, one of those games is Team Buddies, which is incredibly awesome. Possibly the best squad based game ever made. I was unfortunately never able to find it for purchase though I did eventually beat it while renting it from a store. If I were able to find it I'd certainly play it again and write a review for it, but chances are it's still relatively impossible to find, alas. Psygnosis is one of those outstanding developers who are no longer able to take risks and make interesting games due to the prohibitive cost of making video games now, a truly saddening chain of events.
Final Grade: 8/10
Edit: Apologies for the lower quality of this post, It was posted in the early afternoon due to oversleep/pressing issue when I finally awoke, alas. Now you have 2 poor posts to mock at least.