Rebel Galaxy Review

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When I first happened upon this game, a quick glance at some videos and game imagery, I let my imagination lead me into believing this was some sort of space sim, maybe even an Elite clone. It seems to be a mistake that a lot of people are making.

It really is not an Elite clone, despite the looks.

Sid Meier’s Pirates would actually be the closest game in terms of mechanics, or for anyone that hasn’t played that game – the closest you will find is probably Assassins Creed: Black Flag. Not played either? Let me tell you all about this game then: I may reference the above games, but only in to tell you that Rebel Galaxy pulls off what both the said games failed to do – great combat and varied challenging ways in which to kick the bad guys in their ‘proverbials’.

Let’s get on with it then and let me keep it simple. A three-word review perhaps? If so, that would be ‘Pirates in Space’. Sadly, I can’t get away with that and as previously mentioned I enjoyed this game and it more than deserves me spending some time in telling you why. This is not Elite….. I repeat, this is NOT Elite

You begin the game with a small animated intro – flying to your first space station your character is looking for their aunt. You meet some shifty looking space-spivs and soon enough you can explore the station. Go the bar, bribe the barman for information on local bounties. Go to the commodities market and become a space-trader – buying and selling between the multitude of different space stations. Go the shipyard, there’s a great selection of varied ships to be had, with different numbers of turrets and placements for the likes of mining lasers.

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The story begins and this is my only real gripe with the game, it’s under-boiled and not that interesting. It matters not in the slightest. Why tell this shit then Lee? Well, most of the non-playable characters are given decent animations and the voice acting isn’t bad either! Just a shame they never gave them something interesting to say. I have to admit, my brain switched off during most of the dialogue.

The game is played out in a horizontal 2-dimensional plane. This really works well for combat and space travel and this was another positive surprise for me. Freedom is also at the heart of this game, play as a good guys, a bad guy, a miner, a trader.

Let’s talk about sex.

Or let’s not, but let’s talk about fighting instead. You will spend a lot of your game-time fighting in Rebel Galaxy. Thankfully the combat is this game is absolutely top notch. Referring back to my earlier comparison to both Pirates and Black Flag, combat in Rebel Galaxy is very similar, but those games failed to deliver anything meatier in terms of combat that a limp Quorn Lasagne.

In this game you can choose to fire your broadside weapons. This is where it mirrors the aforementioned games combat. Luckily, it’s leaps and bounds ahead in quality. You can affix different turrets to your ships and take control of then at ease. The broadside combat can be quite slow and clumsy (as it really should be), so firing homing missiles, or scatter guns is a lot more engaging and fun.

The game world is huge. I’m pretty sure there’s about 10+ galaxies, all connected by Mass Effect type relay wormholes and enough diversity between each (very large areas in their own right) galaxy. I’ve yet to mention these are procedurally generated as well. Travelling around in each galaxy can take a bit of time, but just like driving in GTA, there’s always something make you stop; distress beacons, pirates wanting to steal your goods etc.

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I have some strange ‘twitchy’ internal barometers to measure if I feel a game is balanced. One of those being the purse string test. If a game finds you having far too much money too soon and nothing to spend it on, that’s a fail. With the decent roster ships and upgrades and weapon to buy, there’s always good reasons to get out there and earn that dosh.

There are factions, but given the seeming lack of attention in the writing department (but, hey – this is a budget game) they actually lack any reason or heart to sway you from one to the other.

Bored of fighting? Go mining?

Bored by mining? Go Trade?

Seek out bounties, explore.

But all roads in Rebel galaxy lead to combat and everything else is just a distraction. As I’ve said before, it’s very satisfying combat.

I’ve actually spent about 20+ hours in Rebel galaxy so far. I was toying with a score. “A solid 8” were my thoughts. Now the game has dropped, it’s on sale for £13.49. There’s a lot of game here for that price.

It’s shallow, it’s dumb… but like all dumb shallow dates, it’s cheap and fun.

Pros

Lots to do

Combat is great fun

Great value

Cons

Bland writing and personality

Score: 9/10

Frugal Gaming Review – Ancient Space

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Ancient Space is real time strategy game based in; you’ve guessed it, Space! It’s been a good while since we’ve had chance to experience this genre in this setting and as a card holding, badge wearing Sci-Fi nerd I was rather looking forward to getting my hands on this game and seeing how it stood up to the much cherished 15 year old classic.

The first thing that stuck me is that despite the games wallet friendly £14.99 price, the developers certainly haven’t skimped when it comes to the presentation.  Both the graphics and sound design are brilliant.  Ships themselves are nicely detailed and the vast depths of space you will fight over are simply gorgeous to look at.  Add to that a strong cast of voice actors, with some well know names for Sci-Fi fans, some rather decent music and it’s a very well presented package, that at first glance belies its price.

Kicking off the campaign with a basic tutorial is a good start. A few missions in and it soon became apparent why the tutorial was so basic, there is a distinct lack of depth to the strategy elements. Ship A kicks ass against Ship B, but is vulnerable to Ship C. Ship B knocks the stuffing out of Ship C but can’t stand up to Ship A. Ship C batters the crap out of Ship A, but is outmatched against Ship B. That is as deep as it gets.  It’s a real shame that at its core it’s so simplistic. Get your head around which ship to use in which situation and you’re a grand master, all you then need to worry about is the constant herding of your forces. And boy can that be a bit of a pain.

2014-08-20_00092Your forces seem to lack any form of intelligence or initiative.  They will happily blast away at ships their weapons have no effect whatsoever on, often ignoring targets that they could actually damage.  Even in the first few missions is becomes a real chore to constantly monitor what all of your forces are doing or not doing, as is often the case.  I guess some people might like this whole level of micromanagement that’s needed to get anywhere but it was really just a complete turn off for me.

The story did manage to catch my attention to start off with but it soon ends up going hand in hand with the tedium of combat. Despite the great cast doing their utmost to make you interested in the story, the lack of stand-out narrative moments in missions leaves the story with the one task of linking mission to mission.  A real shame considering the talent brought into voice some of the characters.

Whilst I’ve not been blown away by Ancient Space and I’ve yet to find the need to complete the campaign, I do think I’ll be going back to it at some point.  There are no specific bad elements in this game, but there are a few things that just leave me completely indifferent.  As nice as it looks and sounds, it was never going to be enough to carry the game alone.  The lack of any multiplayer is also a big disappointment, as an armchair army General, there is nothing better than being able to get one over on your friends, and the more simple nature of combat that’s offered in Ancient Space would have been rather more suited to multiplayer that it is for a single player campaign.

2014-08-20_00228The developers and publishers have pulled off a master-stroke by releasing Ancient Space before the much anticipated Homeworld Remastered even has a release date.  For people like me who can’t wait for that, this game has provided a pleasant distraction, even if in all honestly it highlights more what a 15 year old game did right than Ancient Space itself accomplishes. Not bad by any means but one for fans of the genre or other Homeworld junkies needing a quick fix.

Reviewing a game can be a tricky thing.  Whilst a game should be judged on its own merits, our opinions are formed by what we have already experienced.  Case in point with Ancient Space, and a somewhat popular classic called Homeworld.  Reviewing the new game without some comparisons to the old is an all but impossible task, and I can’t help but think I’d have enjoyed Ancient Space rather a bit more if I hadn’t loved Homeworld quite so much.

Score: 7/10

Developed by Creative Forge Games

Published by Paradox Interactive

Ancient Space is currently available on Steam and can be found HERE