As usual I’m late to the party (1 year late I believe) but I thought I’d blog about what has to be one of my favourite PC games of 2010, Gratuitous Space Battles.
Now before I get to the meat of this blog post I’d like to start with a little journey back in time (queue the harp sound effects). Cast your mind back to the year 1999, it was around this time I bought my very “own” PC, one of the first games that I bought was Tom Clancy’s Rainbow Six, that game truly defined the FPS genre for me, combining different tactics, weapons and most of all strategic planning.
Looking back at the game now it seems very dated, yet the underlying systems stand up as some of the best and most enjoyable I’ve encountered. Over the last year I’ve really been yearning for a game that delivered strategy components and don’t just allow you to win by outnumbering the enemy.
From Demo to Purchase
I was first alerted to the games existence when I was discussing games with a work colleague and he mentioned to me that he’d been playing a strategic space warfare game. At the next available opportunity I downloaded the demo from Steam and was hooked.
Generally if I enjoy a demo, I waste very little time before purchasing the full game. In the case of Gratuitous Space Battles I think the gap between playing the demo and purchasing the game was a matter of hours (that can be counted on one hand).
One of the major elements that drew me to this game was it fed my inner-gamer, you know the nerdy one that likes numbers and figures, the one that has been brought up on a diet of games like : Laser Squad, X-com, Syndicate, Rainbow Six, Shogun: Total War, to name a few.
I would be lying if I said that altering and amending deployments and ship configurations wasn’t a big appeal to me, combine that with the ability to try the same encounter in three different difficultly settings and I’m in my element. Although not directly a strategy game, in the common gaming sense, GSB pulls players into that mind-set: analyse the enemy (normally with a few trial and error attempts), determine the best race/ship/equipment choices, optimise the best deployment for the most gain.
There are a vast number of options available to player from ship design to shield generators, each has their one strengths and weaknesses that you will need to take into consideration. More unlocks are purchasable as your progress through each encounter and earn Honor Points.
There is also the Survival mode encounters that require you to build a fleet to last as long as possible. These encounters are also linked into a global scoreboard that act like a proverbial red-flag to players that enjoy a challenge.
Finally there is an online challenge system that sees to go head-to-head against real opponents. I’ve registered for this but haven’t had any battles yet as I’m still getting to grips with a lot of the races/ships/modules.
But wait! that’s not all!
The core game comes with the standard 5 races (4 un-lockable), these cover over 40 different ship designs, which is more than enough to get you started. You are also able to purchase additional races for the game there are currently 4 additional races that you can buy
One man development army Cliffski has been hard at work building a Campaign mode for the game, which I havn’t played yet as it’s not on Steam, but from the videos it looks rather good.
So if you want to grab yourself a copy why not pay a visit to http://www.positech.co.uk/gratuitousspacebattles/index.html thus directly helping the developer, and without being locked into using a digital distributor like Steam. It’s worth noting the game has it’s own built in updater that ensures you have a most recent version.
Playability 4 | Graphics 5 | Audio 4 | Longevity 3 | Originality 5
Total 21 out of 25
GSB doesn’t tie you up with complex stories its all about the gameplay, once you have grasped the basics you are left alone to battle against the enemy forces. That not to say it’s easy, each encounter can take a fair amount of prep-time as you work to get the best configuration.
The game features beautifully designed ship models that bring a wonderful dimension to GSB, upbeat music that instantly makes you think of space themed films and the ever present and continual sound of banks of lasers firing into the dark voids of space.
It will hardly come as a surprise to anyone that knows me that I’m very excited about the recent news about Planetside 2/Next.
For those that haven’t encountered Planetside before, it is a true MMO-FPS that exists in a persistent world, it is purely based on PVP with no PVE elements at all. The game battles 3 opposing empires in large continental battles fighting against each others with massive battles contain up to 399 players, featuring a mixture of vehicles, aircraft, Power-Armour and soldiers alike. That blurb doesn’t do it much justice but you get an idea.
At first I thought that SOE may create an entirely new game based in the same universe, but after some consideration about the timescales, the use of the “Next” name and fan-bases loyalty, I now think that SOE may be going for a complete overhaul of the 7 year old game to bring it up-to-date with the modern gaming scene rather than making something new.
It’s my opinion that the following elements of the existing game need to be addressed for a new version:
- Engine – Despite not being a big part of the game, the most frequent comments I hear about Planetside is that it looks old. I sadly have to agree, the graphics haven’t really been updated launch. Moving beyond DirectX 8 will been the biggest benefit as the game doesn’t utilise any of modern graphic card functionality.
- NetCode – CCP have demonstrated that designed & dedicated technology is able to manage large scale battles, SOE can gain maximum benefit from streamlining the netcode.
- ClientSide – One of the biggest problems that Planetside had to overcome at launch was how to manage the 100′s of players running around and blasting away at each other. The now infamous client-side functionality has been one of the areas that lead to this games downfall. Hackers manipulated the client-side processes to their own gain and ultimately drove out the honest players.
- Of course don’t forget that SOE surveyed the players to ask various question about the game, I would expect many of those improvements to be included as part of “Next”.
As normal I may be way off the mark but I’ll remain hopeful that the key components of the game will be preserved despite the overhaul.
Are you going to sign up?
Tonight “The Department” gear up for possibly the last venture onto the streets of San Paro, as the MMO All Points Bulletin prepares to close the servers down.
I realise that I haven’t captured any video of the game during my time playing, but then I struggle just to run the game so aim on taking some screen-shots tonight. I don’t plan to write about why thing are, like they are, there are other people that have far more knowledge and do a better job explaining things than I ever could.
Through-out the last month it’s seemed that not only the gamers players but the global gaming community has held it’s breathe following the news about RealTime worlds. As with things of this natures there were countless questions asked and as “stories” started to surface there came a realisation that things were rather bleak for the company and game.
I was reminded of those MMO titles have come and gone in recent years and there is no denying that the impact of the events around RTW and APB are going to impact the MMO and maybe to a lesser extent the Gaming arena for some time.
So, good bye APB, you were a game that delivered a truly amazing environment and unparalleled character customisation. I hope lessons are learnt from your demise.
Thought i’d capure the Patchers text today, It’s below