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First Thoughts - Gratuitous Space Battles


Real-time Strategy has always been a guilty pleasure of mine. Ever since I got my first taste of Warcraft 2, I've been hooked and haven't looked back. Cut to the summer of this year as Positech Games releases Gratuitous Space Battles. Taking the role of both Fleet Admiral and Starship Designer, you are tasked with kicking intergalactic ass and taking names.

From the standpoint of design, you are able to fill various starship hulls until they're virtually armed and armored to the teeth. Divided into three classes - fighters, frigates and cruisers - each class has it's decided strength and weakness. By further allowing ships to be filled with components relative to their class, it expounds on the diversity of each ship. Essentially, should the designer choose, no two ships in their fleets ever have to be alike. Additionally, by defeating enemies and winning battles, you receive honor points, which can then be utilized to unlock new hulls, ship components or even entirely new races to play.

In order to win those battles though, you'll have to be a capable strategist in addition to being a clever designer. From the deployment screen, you're able to place your fleet into formation along with assigning orders. Setting target priorities allows you to dictate what your ships will hunt first as well as what range they'll begin to open fire. Another cool feature is issuing orders such as escort, formation, vulture (which orders the ship to target enemy vessels on their last legs) as well as co-op (ordering starships to concentrate fire on targets). The orders become vastly important as you have no direct control over your ships while they're engaged, which I found a bit off-putting at first. However, the more comfortable I became with building out my ships, I subsequently found myself increasingly confident in sitting back and enjoying the battle.

The demo is currently available via Steam and from Positech, which you would be doing yourself quite the disservice if you didn't at least check this title out before 2009 was over.
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About AndrewG009one of us since 1:33 PM on 07.28.2009

"I kind of miss the days when games were judged on their game-playing merit alone. I'm a little concerned about how far we (the game industry) are into the licensed four-page-ad marketing blitz era these days, which may be a natural evolution of the industry. But I'm always worried when we put more emphasis on glitz and production values than on the game. That's a trend that looks good for a while until you realize there's no game industry any more. If we don't have gameplay, we can't really compete with other forms of entertainment because we can't do graphics as good as the movie industry and we can't make sounds as well as the recording industry. All we can do that's special to us is be interactive. So we have to hang on to that and make sure we do a good job." - Sid Meier

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