Starpoint Gemini Warlords joins Steam’s already burgeoning catalogue of space sims. Set in the Gemini system, players are tasked with building fleets, attacking enemies and taking territories. Billed as not just your a-typical space sim, but also a 4X strategy game with RPG elements, does Starpoint bring enough unique elements to the table, or will it simply disappear into the abyss of space?
The story is a standard sci-fi affair. You’re the captain of a starship, enemy starships attack, you have to find them, destroy them and gain territory for the good guys. Very simple, but Starpoint is more about giving you an open world to explore and adventure into. And here is where Starpoint really shines. The ship designs are awesome and space is pretty wondrous. But there are a few areas where Starpoint is a complete letdown.
The controls in Starpoint are standard. You control the camera with the mouse, move your ship with WSDA while using the scroll wheel to change the throttle. What lets the combat down, however, is the camera. Constantly fixed on your own ship, it’s very difficult to know where the enemies are and to get a proper lock on them. Meaning if you want to look around, you have to also move your ship, giving the game a sort of tunnel vision effect. Not only does this lead to frustrating battles, but personally also gives me major motion sickness. Despite trying to toggle all the settings I could not reduce this, I could only play Starpoint for about half hour at a time before the need to puke was too much and I had to stop.
Looking around at other reviews and user comments I haven't seen this being mentioned, so it might just be me, but still, I would be remiss if I didn’t mention it and caution those of you out there who are prone to motion sickness.
There is another way to wage combat. Kind of. What I’m assuming to be the “4X strategy” part. Changing to this mode gives you a bird's-eye view of the battlefield, allowing you to see everything that is happening, more like a turn-based strategy game. Here though the graphics aren’t as impressive, using little icons, and allowing you to lock onto targets, however, you’ll still need to go back to the normal view to actually implement combat.
Thankfully there is more to do than combat. Unfortunately, they're pretty much there to just facilitate more combat. Mining, fleet building and levelling your character are all for the purposes of getting bigger ships, gaining more territory and having a more impressive fleet. So you can take them into space. To shoot more stuff. In combat. If only they made the combat more dynamic, flow better and not make me feel like barfing, this could have been a really fun game to play.
If you like open world space sims there’s a lot worse out there to pick than Starpoint Gemini. The only problem is there’s a lot better as well. It tries to set itself apart with the whole 4X strategy and RPG elements, and while each element is pretty fun, there’s just a lack of polish to it all. Most evident in the combat, the levelling system seems a bit tacked on and needless, they could have easily ditched this part and just had you levelling ships and upgrading gear. But in the game's defence: it’s better to shoot for the moon and miss because at least you’ll be amongst the stars!
Starpoint Gemini Warlords (Reviewed on Windows)
Game is enjoyable, outweighing the issues there may be.
Ambitious, but unfortunately falls under the weight of those ambitions. Trying to juggle too many things, there’s a decent game here, it’s just hidden under awkward controls, a restrictive camera and the need to vomit. Also the names kind of dumb.