I've been playing Elite: Dangerous lately. It's a cool, albeit very unfinished game, which at times is notable for how dry and lifeless it is. At other times, though, it might be the most beautiful video game I've ever played.

Everything to do with human contact in this game bums me out. There's just no character to it, no variety, no sense that this is a universe populated by human beings. But once you fire up the thrusters and leave the space stations behind, well.

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You're left with nothing but space. Deep, daunting, endless space, and Elite captures it as beautifully as any deep space telescope has ever managed. Maybe better, since you can't fly a space telescope all the way around a fiery alien sun then dart through an asteroid field in the same afternoon.

If you don't believe me, take a look at these screenshots, snapped by the fans at this Flickr group.

I know that this game is about trading, and mining, and shooting, but so far I've just been spending hours flying around and...soaking it all up.

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