Starscape (Windows)

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Developed by
Critic Score
100 point score based on reviews from various critics.
User Score
5 point score based on user ratings.
Written by  :  WildKard (12986)
Written on  :  May 17, 2006
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars
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Asteroids mixed with Tyrian and throw in resource gathering for good measure

The Good

Starscape starts out with a simple animation sequence detailing it's storyline. What's notable about this is that the colors are vibrant and the animation simply looks very pretty... even if the graphical version of a human is a little 'funny' looking at. In any case, this is your first clue that this game is something special.

Once you actually begin the game, you might think that someone made another remake of the 1980s Asteroids. Your goal is to shoot up these big floating rocks into smaller pieces and shoot them again and again until finally there are "minerals" left. The player then collects these minerals and brings them back to the Aegis (an ex-space station which functions as your mothership) where they are used for repairs, research, building or a mission goal. Seems simple enough. Then the first wave of enemies shows up and the player will soon discover that they break just as easy as the asteroids do. But more enemies show up... and then more... and then massive military ships that require more extensive weapons and flying to destroy. Climb the tech tree and build better hulls, missiles, ion blasters, mines.... there are many ways to plow through the enemy ships.

This continues as the player moves from sector to sector, searching out new minerals, blasting baddies and occasionally rescuing crew members (which besides being a humanitarian thing to do, also increases your research/production speeds). There is minimal strategy involved in that you can see the concentration of enemy ships on the map and specifically the enemy mining vessels, which are busy collecting minerals in order to produce more swarms of ships to send your way.

During this time, your ship(s) are customizable in that you build the parts you need than then attach them in available space, paying close attention to the mass and battery life of the finished product. A lot of fun to those who love customizing these things.

Once you delve into the plot which involves the inhumane Anarchids and the Xenarchid "rebels", you'll probably stumble upon your first enemy boss ship. These things are impressive and only vulnerable in certain spots and I'd even go so far as to say that these Boss ships define the game as something more than this being a mere "quickie game". From zone 2 onwards, you'll be encountering increasing complex enemy battleships, more resilient swarms and most importantly, some really fun technologies to build and equip on your starship. And it just gets more and more fun. And as powerful as you upgrade your ship to take down hundreds of enemies, there always seems to be those kinds of mistakes you can make that cause it to be destroyed, leaving the player feeling overpowering, yet still challenged. At the same time the Aegis is always vulnerable (especially against certain battleship types) and so the player must always keep an eye on it's location and the threat around it.

Plus if you don't feel like doing all of that, just select survival mode and blast happily and a neverending swarm of enemy ships.

The Bad

There's not much to complain about, Starscape tries to be a good space shooter and succeeds very well at it. If there's one gripe I have it's that the locations of the map aren't randomized and "crew members" will always be hiding in the same sectors. This is less of a problem than it sounds however since every sector itself is randomly generated (or if it isn't you just don't remember where the objects are clumped).

The Bottom Line

This game combines the best aspects of Asteroids and space shooters such as Tyrian and manages to take it one step further by including a storyline, some real goals to your mission and the management/collection of resources to move the game away from just mindless shooting. You do after all have to pause on the firing button if one is trying to collect minerals to bring back to base, otherwise they'll be destroyed as well.

Starscape also makes itself appealing by providing some explosions and energy weapons that are easy on the eyes (just look at the screenshots). I can't help but look forward to new games that Moonpod might develop.