Starpoint Gemini Warlords – Preview
Follow Genre: RPG
Developer: Little Green Men Games
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Platform: PC
Tested on: PC

Starpoint Gemini Warlords – Preview

Good: Huge map, choices affect how the game goes
Bad: Chaotic combat, repetitive missions
User Score
8.0
(2 votes)
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Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)

What hides behind the over-the-top title? A space sim, RPG and a 4x strategy, say the developers, but what does the early alpha build offer you? The first thing you notice are really goofy faces of people on a loading screen, but you won’t encounter them in the alpha. The game clearly has a lot of potential, especially in the void left by unsatisfied No Man’s Sky potential. It’s planned to include rudimentary politics, economy and RPG style choices the player would have to make. In space.

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So far the story included a commander of Concordia fleet, you. Due to unexpected events he’s lost his memory and needs help from several NPCs regaining it slowly over the course of a simple tutorial. Not much can be said, as the only scenario is a dedicated alpha map without a campaign mode, but even in that short episode you’re presented with several Mass Effect style choices. They’re not obvious right away as to what direction they lean. How much effect they’ll have on the rest of the game though? Developers promise dire consequences not just to your character but to actions of other space factions as well, which suggests a political angle to be somewhat important.

As one may expect from a space simulator, the graphics are simple but effective. Travelling at sublight speed looks great and you can feel the speed at which your ship swishes past patrols and asteroids. What really stands out visually in a weird way though are the skills used by your character. They look like magic and feel really out of place in the sci-fi setting.

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Nit-picking on alpha builds would be unfair, but if there’s one area where the game needs an improvement, it’s sound. Voice actors don’t feel genuine and the battles feel unimpressive due to flat, repetitive sounds of gun turrets, but the ambient music makes up for it to a degree.

Starpoint Gemini Warlords is a space sim, RPG and a 4x strategy but the alpha focuses on the RPG elements the most. Namely subquests, upgrading your ship and skills and story. The map is limited and separated between Concordia – your faction and an enemy, whose ships will try to blast you to pieces on sight, which one might find out very quickly trying to complete a quest, which stretches to their territory. As mentioned, the section of the map available in alpha is relatively small, it can be traversed within 10 minutes, but you can see the entire playable space and it looks massive.

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Many subquests involve combat, but not all of them, which is a good thing. On several occasions in different types of missions you will be hailed and halted by an enemy vessel demanding your cargo or else, to which you can surrender, order attack or try to intimidate them. It felt like after several missions the chances of intimidation were increased, which would suggest a notoriety system and it feels great to anyone who played Mass Effect 3 and wanted to punch the buff dude in the basement of Normandy. In several types of missions you’ll have to make a choice whom to save and whom to throw to the wolves. Will you be a white knight and save a civilian passenger vessel or a transport ship with your reward aboard? En route to mission waypoints you have a chance to encounter Concordia patrols battling it out with pirates, which is where the issues start. You automatically enter battle mode when enemies appear in sight with your HUD appearing around your ship. On it you can view the status of your shields, energy, which your gun turrets use and the general direction of enemy vessels. Even with auto fire the battles are challenging, due to your gun turrets, which seem to have a very limited angles of firing. The best strategy seems to be standing in one spot and simply rotating your ship so the top of it faces whichever enemy you choose, for they move very quickly, and your ship’s turning speed, while upgradable, isn’t great. There is a locking system but your guns will target the nearest target regardless, but your heavy weapons will still follow the chosen target, which makes for dragged out battles, cause the shields regenerate.

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There are so far 4 types of turrets you can install onto your ship, each with different targets in mind and they can be upgraded to deal more damage, energy usage and improve their tolerance to punishment, as select segments of your ship can be singled out, but those are just obvious upgrades, the game offers many more to choose from. Some guns will deal more damage to shields, some to armour and so forth. Aiming beam type is very easy to use and feels satisfying as it fries the enemy shields, projectile ammo is harder to control but your auto-fire mode handles them with ease.

Another aspect of the game is the base of Concordia’s fleet, which can be upgraded to unlock new possibilities, such as mining operations, civilian NPC missions or R&D to name a few. That’s also where you can pick up missions, use your hangar or build attack ships, which can be grouped into fleets and used to attack or defend your territory. The system is very simplified but holds a lot of potential.

Conclusion

Obviously the game is at an early stage of development, so it’d be unfair to criticize it too strongly, but there’s one thing that cannot be overlooked and that’s space battles. They’re a hectic mess where without the auto-fire function you wouldn’t be able to even find your enemies. 4x elements are what’s really going to kickstart the fun and allow a greater degree of immersion. What gives one hope is that over 3h of gameplay I’d only encountered one glitch, which disappeared after an autosave load.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 8.0/10 (2 votes cast)
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Starpoint Gemini Warlords - Preview, 8.0 out of 10 based on 2 ratings
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