I'm NOT recommending thisa game, despite my love for its mechanic, its tactics and its interactivity; not because it's dated, not because there's a few bugs here and there and not because of the awful dialogue in the story mode - because ultimately, they actually kind of endear me to the title. It's because of the lack of certain features.
Cross Freelancer with Star Trek Legacy and you've pretty much got the general premise, barring the storyline - which, in and of itself, isn't ridiculous... it's just the dialogue that's awful.
So what's missing that's so damned important if I'm going to be so forgiving in other realms of the game?
The trading system. The core of being a merhant. THis game invites you to scan and mine, scan and board, scavenge from derelicts, even pick up cargo and flog it elsewhere... BUT where?
In games like Freelancer (being the best and closest example to this game), but also in the likes of the X series or Elite, Starpoint Gemini boasts the opportunity to be a merchant and make so money via filling your cargo hold and getting that stuff to someone who might actually pay for it... but you have absolutely no way of knowing WHERE that might be - there's no tickerline to tell you that System A has deal on XYZ, while System B is desperate for XYZ and will pay +50% of the going rate.
If you examine an item in the commodities, and equipment but there's no problem with the systems mechanic at all, you can learn the Average Price of that commodity (assumably in relation to all the ports in the game) and then when you go to purchase it then, and only then, can you determine it's actual price in the outpost you're in at the time.
This makes for some really slow commodity training and then flying about without a clue who will pay more for your goods is infuriating: eg.:
Picked up Holoparts and Medical Supplies from a gaff in Kingsway (I think) at 20 to 30 over the average market price (which isn't actually that bad by all accounts) because it'd been the lowest price I'd seen for a wee bit. Then went hunting through the next 7 systems trying to find someone who would buy them for more - scouring every station, every hole, every system in the hopes of selling at a profit.
Now, maybe I could see if there's a wiki, but why should I? Yeah, I would consider the sandbox mode over the story mode for further play (due to the significant difficulty of having a new ship in time to run head long, within the story, in to a sortie of ships that far outclass my own and all the other Bots just fold and die a bit too quickly to be useful) and that might give me enoigh time to figure out trade lanes for myself, but I could get that same action from Freelancer or the X series, heck even EVE Online if I was so inclined.
I want to like this game, I do likle this game, I just can't recommend it because of some potentially game-breaking features that NEEDED to be in the game.
Oh, and beware the Tutorial. It is magnificently literal - you WILL LEARN one step at a time and NO faster!
Plus, if you still fancy a bash at this game, which, for it's age is still a bit on the awesome grrovy side in my humble opinion, I'd STRONGLY consider the following:
Specialise in no more than 5 skills and be careful which officers you hire...
Remap your controls! No seriously, rethink how to make this game work through re-mapping; personally, I managed to really ramp up my effectiveness by employing an almost WoW like fasy-key logic - transferring power, burst fire, distress call, docking, scans, boarding etc. all within one row of keys and suddenly I'm a devastating force of nature... in Sandbox mode... :D
This could be the game for you, but if it is, you're going to have a few moments where you want to ask the developper why they missed a couple of bits out, but then you might just love it because of what was essentially a lovely build based on a hither-to under-exploited game genre, but then Freelancer is a pretty tough game to top, am I right? ;)