“Without a doubt, this is a sci-fi strategist’s wet dream.”
Imagine epic space battles involving fleets of battle cruisers and star ships that you have fully customized. You have manually outfitted them with weapons, engines, crew members, and more. You’ve even named your wonderful creations. Sounds pretty awesome, doesn’t it? Despite the fact that the game controls these ships that you make, it’s still fairly awesome!
In Gratuitous Space Battles, players take on the role of a commander in charge of a military star ship fleet. As the head honcho, you get to decide what ships make up the fleet, as well as what the ships are outfitted with. Ignoring the gameplay and the missions for a bit, I will talk about this interesting customization aspect.
From the main menu, players can enter a ship builder menu that allows you to load up a design schematic for a ship and outfit it with weapons, engines, shields, armors, and more. There are so many possible combinations that I cannot even venture a guess at the approximate number of ships you can design, but it’s surely in the thousands at the very least.
As you toss various parts onto your custom ships, you will notice that each new part will increase the required crew capacity and power output needed for the ship to function. Adding crew quarters and power generators solves these issues, unless you are throwing the best parts onto your ship. If you toss many of the best ship parts in the game, you may not be able to staff enough crew or generate enough power for the ship to function. It’s important that you balance your ship properly, making sure it stands a chance against the opponents while keeping the required crew and power at reasonable levels.
After making several ships, you get to tackle the game’s fairly straight forward missions. Despite the fact that the game controls your ships once the missions begin, the outcome of the battles still depends entirely on you. How, you ask? Prior to the start of each mission, you are treated with a deployment screen. On this screen you can deploy and arrange your ships in any formation you choose. Since the enemy’s ships are visible on this screen, you must plan your fleet’s formation and place each ship in the most strategically fit location that you can find. After placing your ships, you can individually select each to determine their attack ranges, what their primary weapons will be, when the will start firing, and toggle the kill order priority, meaning you can decide which ship classes (cruiser, frigate, etc.) your ships are most likely to attack first.
After you are satisfied with your deployment, you start the mission. This is where you get to sit back and relax, watching your fleet go to work. Will they annihilate the enemy forces, or will your proud fleet be humiliated miserably? It all depends on how you have outfitted your ships and what their tactics are set to. A few wrong decisions and you’ll be forced to watch your fleet be destroyed. However, a few clever moves can result in your fleet absolutely dominating the battle. As I said, it all depends upon how you set your fleet up. It’s a very strategic kind of gameplay.
The ingame graphics are pretty cool. In motion, the game looks like a battlefield from a space RTS. The ships are all wonderfully designed, and as the action picks up, everything becomes hectic and things become difficult to follow with so many projectiles being fired everywhere. It’s quite cool looking, and it really does simulate space battles pretty well.
The music and sound effects are all pretty epic, and kind of remind me of the music from the Star Trek Armada games. The amount of sounds that will be coming out of your speakers during each battle is pretty astonishing, and it sounds really awesome.
Completing missions will award you with points that you can use to unlock new ship upgrades and more, and it’s also possible to duel online opponents. I haven’t tried that feature of the game yet, but the idea of two fully customized fleets duking it out sounds pretty great. Overall, the game is a lot of fun to pick up and check out, and there are many features that definitely prolong the gameplay of Gratuitous Space Battles. If you’re looking for a very strategic war simulation in space, this may be your new best friend. As a fairly cheap game on Steam that sells for only a few dollars, can you really go wrong with this? No way. The game is pretty cool, so give it a try if this is the sort of game you’re looking to play.