Space: the final frontier. Yeah, let’s not be that cliché. What I will talk about is the new space questing game called Starpoint Gemini. So, board your ship, boot up your thrusters and get ready for somewhat bumpy ride.
You play as a captain of a spaceship in the distant future. Earth is in conflict with a large space colony and you are a captain of a cruiser fighting against the homeworld. The war heats up, and the colony decides the best way to stop the enemy forces is to destroy the wormhole gate that leads back to Earth. Well, that plan backfired. What ended up happening was a large anomaly in the space-time continuum that not only caused massive destruction, but also time rifts in space. Your ship was one of the unfortunate vessels to get stuck in the rift. Twenty years later, scientists rescue your ship, and you are thrust into a world where the war is over and the colonies are ruled and segregated by three large factions.
The game is every much a single player space MMO (an MSO, I guess). I’ve never played EVE Online, but from what I understand of the game, Starpoint Gemini is basically a more simplistic single player version of that. You can take on missions for different factions, do freelance stuff or just explore. You never know what you might find in the far reaches of space.
The game focuses on basically becoming the best ship in the galaxy. You can do this by leveling up your captain, upgrading and obtaining new ships, and hiring more skilled crewmembers. The customization options in this game are quite impressive. You can upgrade pretty much anything on your ship from defenses and shields to weapons to engines. Gathering new crew members can also be a great addition to your arsenal. They give you perks that can aide in both exploration and combat.
The game features an MMO-like taskbar that allows you to use learned and upgradeable abilities. Some of those can be in the form of combat maneuvers, increases in speed, boosts in shields and more. These all can be acquired and improved with points you gain from leveling up your captain. You get to choose perks that best suit your play style.
The combat is fairly simple. If you run into an enemy ship, you begin by switching to combat mode. This will bring up your shields. Depending on what kind of weapons you have on your ship and where they are placed, you may have to be facing the enemy ship in order to attack it. During this time, you can maneuver your ship and position yourself to the best place to attack and defend. You can even choose what part of the ship to fire at. By taking out weapons, you may very well save your life. You can even choose to repair parts of your ship during combat, in case you need some help.
The missions are standard fare. You can collect items and materials from derelict ships, search for enemy ships and take them out and mine for minerals to sell. There are tons of things to do in the game, but the problem is, there’s just not that much variety. Even when you’re doing mission for factions, they all boil down to the same formula. It’s not a bad design by any means, but after 6 hours of doing the same kinds of missions it can get tedious. Completing missions is balanced very well, you will gain experience and credits at a decent rate, and you always seem to come out with the credits to buy something new for your ship.
The visuals are decent. I understand the company that made this game had a smaller crew and, for the small size of the team, it’s impressive. The overall presentation is nice. The music goes well with the aesthetic of the game. The voice acting, on the other hand is not really good. You will hear the same banter repeated many times over, and the acting is just not very good. It has a lot of heart, but sometimes I cringed at the sound of two people talking to each other.
The game controls relatively well. You can control your ship’s direction by clicking in a on the screen, and you can control the speed of your ship by either using the keyboard or by clicking on a throttle meter on the screen. In heavy combat situations, the camera does get unwieldy at times. This is not good when getting hit with enemy fire that can severely damage your ship. I died a good amount of times while playing the game. If you get rushed by more than one or two enemies, you’re pretty much toast. Make sure to save often.
The only other problem I had with the game was the log for your missions. Sometimes it was so jumbled up and confusing, I couldn’t tell exactly what mission I was working on and which missions I had finished. To be honest, many of the menus were just a little too clunky for my tastes. I was still able to figure out what exactly to do, but it took me a bit of searching to find what I was looking for.
All in all, I think Starpoint Gemini is a decent game. The premise is unique and interesting, and the mission balancing and level progression is handled very nicely. There are some bland points to the game, and I wish the missions were a more varied, but they still will keep you busy. If you don’t mind a little hokey voice acting at times, and navigating a sometimes confusing menu, you can have a decent time exploring space in Starpoint Gemini.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.