Great concept and execution marred by a few major flaws
The most remarkable features of the game are its combat and character/ship customization. Ships are controlled a lot like in Homeworld
: you control a mothership and a small fleet of ships, and move them around by clicking on them and their destination. The right mouse button is used for attacking. Combat is tactical, making good use of the small number of ships and their strengths and weaknesses. You really feel the need to treat each ship carefully, lest you loose one of them in the course of a battle. Being able to dock them and repair damage is a nice touch (though this does not apply to the mothership).
Character customization is also nicely done. Every skill is interesting, and none of them feel contrived. The differing skills fit well with the roles outlined for each character. The descriptions of the skills are well written, and act as a motivator for acquiring more of them.
The graphics are nice for their time, especially the ship and station models. The models are low-poly, but have nice shapes and nice textures. The models remind me a lot of Independence War
, in that they are very sleek yet still feature common traits (such as cylindrical shells and structural trellises) one would expect to see in space vessels after watching movies like 2001: A Space Odyssey
The FMVs are likewise of good quality, but rather on the short side.
The main downfall of this game is the mission structure and world design. Missions all take place in nearly identical rectangular sectors, featuring the same sized grid throughout. Minor variations in station placement and background scenery don't do enough to overcome this feeling. It's like flying through the same small bit of space over and over again. The game could really use some of the open-ended design concepts found in such games as Independence War 2
The missions are also very linear. A lot of the time conversations lead to the same conclusion no matter what options are chosen. Important bits automatically appear in the quest menu, so there's no real incentive to play close attention to what is being said. It's doubtful that choices made during the course of conversation will have a lasting impact on the story.
The voice acting is also atrocious, so you'll find yourself trying to avoid points in the game where information is spoken instead of written.
Finally, the music is not of great quality. The same tracks seem to get repeated over and over again, resulting in the music becoming very repetitive.
The Bottom Line
The game has a great concept, and some aspects, such as the ship-to-ship combat and character customization, are executed very well. However, the weaknesses of the world design are a major drawback. This results in a lesser amount of satisfaction in terms of exploration expected of space sims/games.
Translation and voice acting issues also abound.