Ah, Elite, that venerable space trading / combat game that everyone remembers from the '80s. Now in its fourth incarnation, the series has been a defining entry in the history of gaming. Admittedly, I didn't like the first installment, but I poured hundreds of enjoyable hours into the second release, Frontier: Elite II. Originally released in 1993, it had an incredible physics engine that accurately modelled the orbital mechanics of our solar system and many thousands of other star systems. Combined with a great range of ships to fly and no set route through the game, you were free to do whatever you wanted in this near-infinite game. Pirate, murderer, explorer, space taxi, smuggler, bounty hunter, courier, scavenger, trader... All and more were possible.
Following on from Frontier: Elite II was the third installment, Frontier: First Encounters. Released in 1995, this felt more like a small update to Frontier: Elite II and less like a new game. There were many improvements but it was also very buggy and a lot of the graphics looked more clunky than the clean-but-limited style of Frontier. I didn't play this one so much.
Finally, there was Elite: Dangerous, the fourth installation. Released in 2014, its creator David Braben waited until PC technology was sufficiently advanced to allow him to realise his vision for a worthy sequel. 19 years after the luke-warm Frontier: First Encounters and 30 years after the original Elite, this is a game of epic proportions. With a much more finely grained model of the Milky Way inhabited by thousands of other online Elite players, Elite: Dangerous lets you live in an incredibly rich and detailed environment, with sound production and graphics that will take a lot of beating. This really does feel like the modern incarnation of Frontier: Elite II, and as a result I see myself once again pouring hours of my life into one of David Braben's creations... And enjoying every minute of it!