On first inspection, Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators looks like a typical space-exploration, combat, and trading game, only a lot more colorful. Your job is to zip around the galaxy in your vessel, buying and selling goods on the open market, battling pirates, and transporting McGuffins from one planet to another. But it doesn't take too long to realize that this fun and engaging game from Cinemaware Marquee and developer Elemental Games is far more than that. It's when you're thrown into prison and have to serve out your time in a Choose Your Own Adventure sort of way ("Do I work out in the gym today and bulk up for the inevitable prison brawl?"), or after you encounter the bizarre intelligence tests and pizza-making challenges, that you realize you're in a madly inspired cornucopia of a game. Not everything works in Space Rangers 2, but it's so varied and random that you find yourself having fun regardless of it.
Space Rangers 2 is a wild amalgamation of gameplay.
As its title suggests, this is the sequel to 2002's Space Rangers, though American consumers never had a chance to play it, because it wasn't released in North America. (Not to worry, though, because the US version of Space Rangers 2 packages the original game.) Space Rangers fans know that this is a gem of a series--it feels sort of like a space-age version of Sid Meier's Pirates!, only one created by madmen with far too much time on their hands.
Your job as a space ranger is to serve as an interstellar cop, tasked with stamping out piracy and battling the dominators, which are powerful robots out to conquer the galaxy. However, you also need to make a living on the side, and you can do so by carrying out missions for various planetary governments, or by buying and trading various goods and resources as a merchant, or by becoming a pirate yourself and extorting protection money out of civilian vessels. You can then use your money to purchase a dizzying assortment of upgrades and vessels, which allow you to tackle some of the more difficult missions later on in the game.
The galaxy of Space Rangers 2 is a dynamic one, as hundreds of ships travel between the dozens of planetary systems conducting trade, warfare, and more. More importantly, everything you do affects your reputation with the various factions in the game, and so doing a favor for one side might mean hacking off another, which may result in finding a bunch of battleships on your tail or having to bribe your way back into a planet's good graces. Combat in the game is surprisingly deep, but also fast-paced. Space Rangers 2 is a turn-based game, but it feels like real time. That's because it uses a simultaneous resolution phase, which means that everyone plots out moves for the turn, and then all the moves are resolved simultaneously.
There are many text-based games built into Space Rangers 2, such as trying to figure out what to do in prison.