Engress: The Test of STS-417

I came across Egress today while surfing around. Egress is a point-and-click space/sci-fi adventure game that takes about 30+ mins to finish. Krams Design did a great job with the AGS Engine in creating the story book style game. I won’t give away too much of the story but I thought it was well written and the game music and sound effects were well done. The art style and mood setting were great and Egress kept me hooked all the way to the end. There is some puzzles to solve in the game so you will have some trial and error with the game (hint: so pay attention to the solutions). And make sure you go through the credits there is some extra stuff to the story in there.

I encourage you to take a look at this great free indie game and give it a try and if you like it don’t forget to donate to the author on their website. You can chat about Egress here or in the forums.

Download: http://kramsdesign.com/egress-dl/EGRESS_v1.0.rar

Game trailer:

Blue Libra

Blue Libra is a game that has been recently released by Orator Games on all platforms (ie: Windows, Mac, Linux and Ipod/Ipad) and you can pick it up on the cheap for under $5.
So what is the game about?

In Blue Libra you are command of the last Libra carrier and you are out to avenge your lost comrades. You will go through the campaign slowly conquering sectors and difficulty increasing as you progress. As you take over planets and or stations you can allot construction priority of your various ship types (ie: fighters, bombers, frigates, etc..). At the successful completion of each level you will be able to purchase special abilities to help your fleet or give you an edge in the fight.

One thing I like about Blue Libra is the control scheme it is easy to use and it seems like it would be universal on all platforms including the mobile ones. You basically draw lines to your targets on cut the fleets in half to split them or make them meet to combine them. The controls are very simple to learn and are very fluid.Blue Libra is a classic RTS game in which you have to be quick and use strategy to take control of planets and use obstacles to your advantage. There is command points in the game so you cannot build up these huge zergs to crush your opponents.

Checkout the game in action below:

Space Chunks II

George Thornton has given us a great sequel to Space Chunks in Space Chunks II: Lair of the Chunk Lords. Space Chunk II has similar mechanics as in the first game in the series but with improved sound fx, graphics, ship upgrades, wingmen, friendly forces, new enemies and bosses and a global scoreboard. Space Chunks II has some great and challenging action. The game is still in beta (v0.99) but getting close to the final v1.0 release.
Thoughts on gameplay:

  • Overall the game is very easy to figure out and understand with the visual queues like the mission objectives and the different systems (hull, shields, missiles, rank,etc..). You will acquire power-ups when you destroy objectives and this will build the strength of your ship.
  • I like the promotion system and the ability to spend points on some passive skills that make your ship more formatible in combat.
  • The boss battles are fun and challenging.
  • Nice job on the debris, missile trails and explosions they look nice when multiple things are being destroyed.
  • In the future would be nice to have the ability to change actual ship components or actual ships.
  • Unless I missed it. It would be nice to have a little background story to the game.
  • Would be nice to be able to give wingmen orders or least set there aggression levels.
  • With the additon of the abilities/skill system, it would be nice to have a ships stats page to actually show you (for the people that like numbers/stats) when adding a skill or ability what is the actual change in value (ie: 10% increase in gun distance is equal to 550m)
  • The global scoreboard is a nice touch

Checkout some of the gameplay in this video:

Make sure you download both games (SpaceChunks and Space Chunks II) and have fun playing them and make sure you leave some feedback on the Space Chunk games here: Add Link

Prospector

Prospector is a rogue-like game that currently uses tilesets to show graphics instead of usual ascii graphics that most rogue-like games have. Prospector is currently on release R197 and it is only available on the windows platform.

In Prospector you explore your galaxy for unique planets and artifacts so you can earn enough credits to hopefully retire a wealthy explorer. That goal is a bit harder to achieve than you think, however I am fairly new to playing rogue-like games but I think Prospector’s difficulty is pretty hard because you have to really make the right choices when exploring and/or fighting or you might get yourself and the crew killed or your ship destroyed.

When you start a game you can choose between five different ships (Scout, Long Range Fighter, Light Transport, Troop Transport and Pirate Cruiser) all with varying stats and crew compliment. I usually play with the troop transport because it holds the most crew and I tend to like exploring the planets to fighting in space. And as you explore space and the planets you will come across various resources and lifeforms and you will map planet surfaces that you can then return to space stations and sell this info and resources/lifeforms in for credits. You can use these credits to upgrade your ship with new a new hull or addons, weapons, shields, and engines. Or you can update your crew with enhancements to weapons, armor or stats. You will also earn experience for your crew members and they will level and become stronger and more proficient with weapons. Which will make adventuring a bit easier but the hard part it is getting to this point. You can definitely spend a lot of time playing prospector because of it’s challenging game play.

I hope that we will continue to see new releases and content added to Prospector because it is really a great rogue-like game. I am still new to this game and maybe I haven’t used all of the features or may not have gotten far enough in the game yet, but there is a few things I would like to see added to the game in the future:

  • Merchant trading between stations/outposts. Yes, there is some trading in Prospector but it really isn’t setup for trade routes. Or the ability to get info in the game of planets/stations needing certain resources.
  • Difficulty level selector. Or the ability to see the survivability rating for a encounter or navigating a new sector.
  • Save games that you can go back to even though you have died on that account. I had a saved game and then a hundred or so turns later I got killed and I then could no longer load my save file?
  • Banks to store credits and earn interest.
  • More games for the casio.
  • Show more info each crew member (bios and stats).
  • Would be nice to have a smaller help area to the right of the stats info (on right-side of screen) to show the games commands so you don’t have to bring up help or have files open.

And here is a nice video that shows off the gameplay of Prospector:

Starpoint Gemini Review

Title: Starpoint Gemini
Developer: Little Green Men (LGM)
Distributors: Iceberg Interactive (boxed copy) and Steam, GamersGate for digital download
Version tested: 1.0.0.10
Purchase from: Amazon and GamersGate

I have been following Starpoint Gemini (SPG) for some time now and have actually had time to sit down and play and review the boxed copy of the game that is distributed by Iceberg Interactive. When I received Starpoint Gemini in the mail I was impressed with package it came in. It was put together quite well.

So what is Starpoint Gemini about?

You play the game as Cpt. Jared Hunt, and 23 yrs ago in the Gemini star system you were part of the Gemini League a revolutionary group that challenged the the authority and ruling of the Gemini Colonial Directorate. The Gemini League’s strength grew and was able to push the Directorate back to ‘Sector Zero’ and tried to seize control of Starpoint Gemini the structure built to protect the wormhole. Which is the only way back to Empire main space (Sector Zero). During the retreat of the Directorate forces they set off a massive explosive inside the wormhole, which sealed off the Gemini system from the Empire system.

The devastation was done. The explosion was so massive that the nearby planets were scorched and the majority of the Gemini fleet was either destroyed or placed into a status rift, an anomaly caused by the wormhole breakdown. Cpt. Jared Hunt and his ship was caught in the status rift and have no clue that 23 yrs has passed and now there is multiple factions fighting for dominance over Gemini sector. Your game starts with a group of scientists pulling your ship (the Amargosa) out of the rift and now your adventure starts.

Gameplay and in-game experiences

You will need to complete a tutorial before you start the main game and this takes about 30mins and it will cover basic menu screens, movement, combat and skills. I have read a few complaints about the difficulty when your first starting out in your adventures in your ship (the Amargosa), which is fairly weak and you will be hard pressed to defeat more than two targets at once and if they get the jump on you you may not survive. After doing a few starter missions and finding some cargo containers in space from various engagements I was able to get some better equipment/weapons for the Amargosa. You will get prompted for some missions that will follow the story arc/campaign and you don’t have to be in a real hurry to do them. If you want to do some missions (available at the stations) and or combat in other sectors to build up your credits I would. Something I tend to do in the game a lot is, if I see some combat between some factions I engage the target or help a faction out to increase my reputation. This will make leveling a bit quicker and in exchange you should come across some decent loot you can sell, least in my experiences.

I have been to maybe 30% of the sectors in the game and I do like what I see so far. There is usually always some type of mineable material in each sector and there is some sort of outpost or base. The radar or targeting system will show NPC’s in colors from green (friendly) to red (enemy). So keep track of where the red targets are because they can surprise you quickly and if they get the jump on you when your shields are down you could be destroyed pretty quickly. The story up to this point has moved at a nice pace and you occasionally have some in-game cinematic that show some battles. For the most part the story is relayed through communication between Gemini League associates and the scientists to Cpt. Hunt.

Now to some gameplay thoughts both pros/cons:

Pros:

  • I like the fact that you can individually target sub-systems on a given target.
  • You can capture ships
  • A lot of upgrades (engines, thrusters, weapons, missiles, torpedo’s, scanners, grappler’s, tractor beam, mining tools, etc…) and these upgrades have class levels from I – V (1 thru 5).
  • Your tactics and what you choose for upgrades for your ship really matter in combat.
  • Each sector has a lot of NPC activity going on (ex: NPC’s mining, rogue faction fighters attacking convoys/ships, NPC’s traveling through gates, trading and docking with stations and comm chatter)
  • Having crew members
  • The LGM team has been putting out patches to fix issues on a regular basis

Cons:

  • The controls for the x-axis needs to be refined in that you can over steer using either the keys or mouse
  • Would like to be able to move on the y-axis
  • When buying components/equipment for you ship the interface could be more useful. That when you mouse-over a object to buy of a certain type it will popup a info screen showing the comparable differences.
  • Seeing some AI glitches when it comes to combat and ship capture
  • Some of the comm chatter gets annoying after a while because of repetitive comments
  • Time/Date stamps on game saves

Graphics and Sound

Starpoint Gemini uses DirectX9. So it’s not using the latest graphic enhancements and any graphics card that has come out in the past 2-4 years should be able to play SPG with relative ease. I witnessed only a few graphic glitches with ships passing through objects and or animations not always showing (like in mining, the laser would be missing). I thought the graphics were good (really liked the debris and nebula’s) and if I could change anything, I would have space be a bit darker. The ships, weapons fire and explosions all looked good.

On the music and sound in SPG, there could have been a lot more in-game choices for music or let the player play there own MP3’s. The voice acting I thought was really good compared to other recently released foreign games (ex: The Tomorrow War was awful). Like I stated above, the comm chatter could have been better implemented.

Conclusion

LGM has done an excellent job with their first game release. It was a little buggy at first, but LGM did what most larger companies don’t do when there is issues with a game. They kept up communications with the fan base and addressed critical issues quickly with patches. All of the issues I pointed out here can be fixed with a few patches and or let your community fix it by releasing either some mod tools or some in-depth instructions on the files used to manually mod the game. With looking over some of the files in the SPG directory it looks to be very mod friendly, so it might be just a matter of time until we see some nice user created content.

So where does Starpoint Gemini rank?
I would have to say 88% out of a 100%. My biggest gripes is really only the axis controls and the random AI glitches. I am really a fan of space and scifi games so my pros/cons tend to be a bit more critical or focused than most reviewers. But I will let you know how I feel about a game and whether the issues I find are deal enders. SPG is overall a great game to play (which I am still playing) and will update this post when I finish playing. Comment on this post here or discuss it further in the SPG forums here: http://www.spacesimc…php?f=32&t=2052

Little Green Men (LGM) did put out a demo recently for Starpoint Gemini, which you can download here: http://www.gamershel…oad_71644.shtml. So make sure you download it and give it a try or you can just jump right into the game and buy it from Amazon and GamersGate. Do checkout the gameplay video below it will give you an idea of the gameplay in store for you in Starpoint Gemini:

EgoSoft: X-Rebirth

It looks like Egosoft has been hard at work the past few years working on X-Rebirth while patching X3: Terran Conflict in the process to make the wait just a little shorter for the fans of the series. When can we expect to see X-Rebirth… hopefully in Q4 of 2011. Egosoft will be publishing more info on X-Rebirth on the 28th of April at a press conference at FedCon XX in Düsseldorf, Germany. So we will see what details are leaked out about the game story-line and gameplay to see if EgoSoft is really expanding the style of games they have been creating since the mid 1990’s. In general the X games are more of a hardcore space combat, trading and exploration game that tended to be hard to get started up in and from most feedback received a lot of people tended to not complete their games (myself included).

If you haven’t seen the X-Rebith reveal trailer check it out now… if you can, make sure you watch it at full screen 1080p.

You can definitely see the gfx facelift to the engine used and the ships and stations look great!

Egosoft really has the opportunity to start over and create a game that will appeal to more gamers. But what should they work on? If I had to pick five items that I feel would improve X-Rebirth over the rest of the X series of games they would have to be:

  • Seamless exploration with no jumpgate/wormholes for travel.
  • You can still have a economic and trading system, I would just try to design the system in a way that players can choose their level of involvement in the economics of the game world. Meaning that you can build your empire, but try to keep micro-management to a minimum. Build more automation into the system with managing your mining and factories, for patrols and protection of your assets. This way a casual player can just pay more attention to the story-line, quests, factions, exploration and combat.
  • A little faster paced combat and have selectable targeting system so you can attack specific ship systems.
  • A bigger universe. Egosoft does a great job with the artwork and ship/station design in all of the X games and I would think people would like to see more of that and if you tie that in with the seamless space flight you could spend countless hours navigating through sectors not knowing what you may find next. Oh I know some uncharted sectors.
  • A universe that will let you do almost anything you want and you have to live with your decisions. Meaning if you decide to take out an entire station or sector that it stays dead for quite sometime or stays dead. Failing any quest may have a impact on the game or in a sector in the game. Make things matter, make me a part of the game and keep me hooked into playing 50-100hrs at the least.
  • I know I said five… but having the ability to move around some of the ships and stations would be great addition to X-Rebirth.

To me, in today’s gaming its not often you see a game that really immerses the player into the game and really evolves the game around them. The space genre of games is a great place to build that immersiveness into a game. With a few good quality titles from various developers we could see space combat games rise back to the fame of 15-20yrs ago when Elite, Privateer, Wing Commander, Freespace and many others graced our monitors and wore out our joysticks. So let’s see what Egosoft has in store for us and lets hope it is epic.

There discuss this post and more Egosoft and X game discussions in the SSC forums: http://www.spacesimcentral.com/forum/viewforum.php?f=44

-D1-