Average User Score: 6.7Apr 27, 2013Note: this review is long, there is a TL;DR
Simpy said, this game is what I've been waiting for in a space 4x game. There are many positiveNote: this review is long, there is a TL;DR
Simpy said, this game is what I've been waiting for in a space 4x game. There are many positive things, and the few negatives are not overwhelming at all. I will quickly get out of the way that this game has great asthetics. The art is great, the UI overall is clean, and the races are well designed. All of this is done well in many other games, but barely has any bearing on the gameplay. It is done well in StarDrive, and that is all that needs to be said about aesthetics.
First, some positives. In terms of development, I noticed the developer (who goes by the moniker Zero) interacts with the community to a huge extent, squashing bugs, responding to feedback, and just plain joking around. While this is not directly related to the gameplay, it does mean that he is listening, he is working on the game, and that the game will get even better than it already is. This means that the game will be getting new content, new patches, new modes of play, new new new. It will continually evolve so I will always have a reason to come back and play.
As for the gameplay, there are many good things as well.
My favourite is the fleet and ship design. Designing a ship can take as much or as little time as you want, and ships can be specialized in many different ways. Stardrive takes this module system to a new level, but there are some temporary negatives which I will discuss later.
Fleets and designing fleets are fun too. There are many different parameters you can set on ships in your fleet, and you can give different ships different behaviours in combat allowing for very dynamic battles. Though the design screen could be more robust (and it will be in the coming months I'm sure) the way fleets are done in StarDrive are FAR better than any game I have played yet. Many have tried, but I always felt that the fleet systems left something to be desired, that they were not fun or missing something.
Expansion in StarDrive is easy, with colony ships being mostly automated, and an easy to use planets window and colonize button to select which planets you want colonize first. One thing I like about the way expansion in StarDrive works is that the AI does not consistently outpace you in colonization. In many 4X games, I found that the AI could somehow make a gigantic empire early on with no negative repercussions. This is not necessarily the case in StarDrive.
There are some minor negatives to take note of however.
Some UI windows could use some polish. That is not to say they don't work or are not complete, but they could be further optimized for clarity and ease of use. Fleets and the fleet window are simultaneously the best feature, and the worst UI interface of the game (although it is not terrible, it is simply not the best among even better windows in the same game).
There are numerous balance issues, but this is more because of the newness of the game rather than a core flaw. Most games upon release are unbalanced and take time to fine tune for a larger audience.
There are sadly, still some framerate drops that exist in the game, but this is due to the huge complexity of behaviours and effects that are occurring at the same time. Through the beta this has been vastly improved and is often only seen in scenarios involving massive fleets and battles that would not be the norm. Unfortunately, I am one of those people that likes to just build a thousand ships and watch them smash my enemies into smithereens, and then watch my ships obliterate those smithereens.
This leads me into my final point that I LOVE about StarDrive. The combat.
There may be purists out there who demand for combat to be like Masters of Orion 2, individual commanding and firing the weapons of ships. That combat was awesome, fun, tactical, and interesting. It was also tedious, time consuming, and a little bit silly at times. The combat in StarDrive is fantastic. Damage is applied to shields, modules, destruction of internal parts can cause chain reactions and rip a ship apart. If one side is less shielded concentrated fire will break through and begin hitting armor and components. If you have a large slow ship with only forward facing weapons, lighter faster ships can move around out of the firing arcs and pound away. The feeling of watching your fleet drop out of Warp, and open fire with volleys of missiles, cannon fire, and laser beams to begin shredding your enemies is amazing.
This game deserves your money, it deserves your attention, and it may very well dethrone the current (in my opinion) king of space 4X games Masters of Orion 2 (which was released in 1996 and I still go back to). This game is already amazing, and there are so many things planned for the future of it, that I expect to be playing this over and over in the next decade.
Developer interacts with Community,
4X's are solid in the game,
Combat is solid.
Still needs Polish
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