03/10/2017

☆ Review: Starpoint Gemini Warlords "I need your clothes, your boots…and your sublight drive" ☆

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When I first received this game to review I was hesitant as the last space-themed game I’d played in any depth was G-Police (awesome game) back on the PS1. 

I’m not a fan of anything set in space beyond horror films and so I felt that I clearly wasn’t up to speed on the genre. 

After watching some trailers of SPGW (Starpoint Gemini Warlords) I have to admit that the premise really intrigued me, it seemed to not only have the trading and space battles but also a solid story and I do love a good story, be it set in space or Tonteg! 

And so I prepared myself for life in space as I booted this baby up….and loved it.

SPGW begins with a brief tutorial that shows a prototype ship getting destroyed and your character getting rescued from the debris, there are a few questions to set your base stats and choose the avatar for your character and then the game throws you into the action with a basic gunship to make your mark on the…well, I was going to say world but it’s more of a galaxy.

What struck me initially about the game was the subtleties in play style. From the get-go, it’s clear that you need to be in for the long haul to see everything that the game has to offer, prices on some guns and ships are astronomical and I thought that this would put me off, especially as I completely hit a wall only a few missions in when a ship I needed to disable (in order to take over in order to sneak into a rival space station) just rinsed me in seconds. Not to be dissuaded, I tried doing a few side missions involving picking up scrap and shooting up pirates (there is a ‘job board’ at most stations which offer various jobs to raise extra cash) which then allowed me to upgrade my arsenal enough to take down that bad mother in a hail of laser-fire.

After a while, I really began to feel like I was struggling with the difficulty, as mentioned I have never played this style of game and it was initially overwhelming (I’ve never had to deal with tactical combat in 360 degrees before!) so I dropped it down to easy and it suited my skill level really well. It was nice to know that the options in the game were so balanced and catered for multiple skill levels.



Little Green Men games have only ever worked on the Starpoint Gemini series and it’s clear that they’ve really honed in on what the fans want from them. Although the side missions can get samey, I did find there was a charm in them and an enjoyment in just jetting around space whilst beefing up your ships that stopped it from feeling like a grind, especially due to the sheer amount of options on offer in regard to ships, guns, and items, etc. There’s always something to work towards, and the money doesn’t just pile up in your account.

The story in the game moves forward at a solid pace and the dialogue choices are basic but the skills and perks that you accrue have a genuine impact on the game. For example, one mission required me to steal an enemy ship and approach a space station, talking my way into docking. It was clear that if I wasn’t lucky enough to have unlocked some diplomacy speech options before beginning the mission that I would have had quite an intense firefight on my hands. As it was I sauntered off without any problems…almost. In terms of landing on enemy space stations, it works by bringing up a small icon which allows you to make choices such as pillaging, retreating or advancing, all the while keeping an eye on the endurance on your landing squad. It’s quite simplistic but does add a small extra layer on top of the frantic space battles, trading, and exploring.

Graphics in SPGW are solid, there are some nice visual effects and some care has clearly been taken in this department. The level of customisation on the ships is quite in-depth but the physics in the game feel quite light, I noticed this mainly when colliding with enemy ships, you just bump off them with no sense of weight or sparks, it was especially noticeable as I chose the ‘Vanguard’ style at the beginning of the game which has an ability which allows you to ram ships for heavy damage. While the ramming boost is quite cool in a visual sense when you actually make contact it feels a bit underwhelming. Another area of the game that could do with tightening up is with the controls, I used a game-pad and there were several glitches with flickering way-points and use of the analog stick (it was occasionally quite erratic) that seemed to disappear when I flicked over to keyboard/mouse controls. I can imagine only a small percentage would use a game-pad but still, it would be good if this could be ironed out in future patches.




Music could be more varied, as much as I loved the milky 80’s rock guitar bends, some different riffs would have been welcomed as I traveled through space. The sound effects are solid, with engines running and lasers pulsing everywhere, it completely gets you in the zone. The change of tone from the sections where you are making your way to the next way-point in a serene state of mind, occasionally stopping to salvage wreckage or extract goodies from gas pockets contrasts nicely with moments where you get attacked by a volley of ships in a hectic intergalactic fight.

There is also a sandbox mode aside from the main campaign where the aim is to take over the entire sector by whatever means necessary. There are nice touches in this mode which also feature in the main game and allow you to carve your own way through the star system. For example, if you take a job to attack a pirate, when you approach them you can open communications and offer to take a bribe in exchange for letting them escape….for now. It’s touches like this that add to the overall feel of an actual person in your ship and the game feels much stronger for it.






Summary
In summary, SPGW is a very in-depth game that is definite value for money. The campaign lasts between 20-30 hours and the sandbox mode could take up hundreds of hours of your time, not to mention the well-received expansion packs that add extremely difficult bosses as a final end-game point. 


Scrolling through Steam, it’s clear to see how many people have pumped dozens and dozens of hours into SPGW and are still unlocking new things. I’ve played the game for a few hours by the time of this review and I know this is a game that will stay in my Steam library for me to return to when I feel the need for some intergalactic action.

It’s also broadened my horizons in regards to playing more games set in space, which I am grateful for.

Right, I’m off to T-drive my way to the next wormhole.



RATING: ICE COOL

Ratings Explained
ICE COOL (Great Game Recommended)
MELTING (Just Falls Short Of Greatness)
MELTED (Not A Recommended Purchase)

Review By Britt


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