If you're curious about the Elite: Dangerous
alpha but don't have an extra £200 lying about, Rock, Paper Shotgun's preview article is likely the next best thing. The first impressions are largely positive, though they're gleaned from a tiny slice of Frontier's
sprawling procedurally generated space sandbox.
The alpha is basically a linear series of combat missions, see. So you'll have to content yourself with voluminous amounts of prose devoted largely to the game's aesthetic. That said, the article does conclude that "sci-fi dogfighting this good is a rare treat."