Buck Rogers: Countdown to Doomsday (DOS)
I'm currently taking a break from Pool of Radiance as I've hit a spot where several of my characters have reached their max level for the game (it's set VERY low in this game considering how much combat there is) so combat has become a bit of a drag. However, I really enjoy the Gold Box engine and wanted to play something a little different... and realized I'd never even tried this one! I took a quick glance at the manual and liked the changes I was seeing, so spent some time making a party and finishing the introduction mission.
As one of the latter Gold Box games, playing BR:CtD is quite a shock compared with PoR! It supports VGA graphics and Adlib music but only PC speaker sound effects. The interface is a lot more comfortable to use, and the game actually resolves two of the biggest headaches of the Gold Box games... by eliminating them completely 🤣. No spells to memorize, and healing is done automatically after combat by your medics (though healing is random based on the character's skill). Speaking of which, the game includes a skill system with each individual class specializing in certain skills.
Combat, at least at first, is mostly done at range. You also get access to grenades which do various things, such as blinding enemies, blocking explosions, etc.; these basically replace certain spells from the D&D-based games.
The introductory mission is short and linear, and has nearly constant random encounters. The mission takes place during a surprise attack and I suspect that you are meant to rush toward your objective, with the constant random encounters basically punishing you for ignoring your objective. Still, I went and mapped the area (there's nothing in it) but was able to get some good upgrades from the enemies I defeated and by the end of the mission had enough experience to level each character up.
From there, you get taken to a friendly base that acts as a "town" of sorts with access to a bar (information), shops, healing, etc. Your second mission involves you flying out to examine a SPOOKY derelict ship, so I stopped there for the day.
I'm really enjoying this so far, but am somewhat impatiently waiting for the game to open up. I know the game allows you to explore space and even fight ship-to-ship battles, and I've heard that it becomes somewhat nonlinear a few missions in (as with PoR), even with a bit of Sid Meier's Pirates! throw in as you fly around shooting down enemy ships and earning salvage.