The original Elite is one of those classic games that has gone down in history as being truly groundbreaking.
Pushing the 8bit generation of home computers, Elite proved it was possible to generate a massive vibrant 3D wireframe universe, with space battles, multiple ship types, space stations, an organic trading system, and a completely free choice.
It had a legion of fans and it set the standard for space sims for years to come.
Elite has had a number of official sequels over the year and has also spawned a number of fan created clones over the years, including Unknown on iOS.
Unknown proves a very accurate reconstruction of the classic original, with the same recognisable universe and familiar graphics style, although the control system has wisely been modified for a touchscreen.
Control of your craft is undertaken by pressing on screen icons to activate various ship board functions, whilst swiping is used to control direction and speed.
Steering works in a slightly different way to most flight simulators in that you don’t steer by turning left or right, you change direction by changing rotation. This method of control does take some getting used to but the control is easier with the new touch controls rather than the old school keyboard control.
In Unknown space isn’t a completely empty void, you start your journey in a relatively humble ship docked in a space station in the Lave star system. From the safety of the dock you can maintain and upgrade your vessel, select your next designation and enter the commodity market place.
Every star system sets a different financial value on items in it’s market, and as you explore the universe you have the opportunity to develop your own trade routes as you discover where to buy and sell items for the most profit. Be warned though as some items are considered contraband, and although you may make significant profit you may also find yourself with a criminal record and hunted by the police.
Making money allows you to fuel your ship for space travel, pimp your vessel with improved equipment or even trade in your ride for a better or bigger model.
Trading isn’t the only way to make money in Unknown, destroying some space ships in battle will generate a bounty, and with the right ship upgrades it becomes possible to mine asteroids and to pick up lost cargo from destroyed enemies.
The freedom in Unknown is impressive and how you play the game is completely up to you, be a legitimate trader, asteroid miner, explorer or a downright nasty pirate, how exciting or boring the game is completely down to you.
When Elite was first released it was breathtaking, but of course technology and games have developed a long way since, and to some Unknown way lack a sense of modern sophistication, but to others Unknown is a throwback to simpler times.
Simple to play but yet providing complete freedom Unknown is strangely addictive and definitely worth while checking out for fans of the genre.
Personally, Unknown has become one of my favourite games, and it’s currently taking up most of my precious and limited spare time, this is partly due to retrospective happy memories but mainly due to the fact that Unknown is just fun to play.
You can download Unknown for iOS by clicking here