Heroes & Generals Info Round-Up

Heroes & Generals is inevitably getting closer and closer to completion, so it only seems fair to spread word of the game a little more!

It is nothing that Heroes & Generals is being made by Reto-Moto, a team that used to be a part of Eidos and was an essential factor in the development of the Hitman series. Reto-Moto is no longer a part of Eidos anymore and are trying to establish a new identity for themselves. Heroes & Generals, a massively ambitious free to play strategy/shooter, looks to be how they intend on establishing that identity. According to Reto-Moto, Heroes & Generals is as follows.

Heroes & Generals is a Free2Play Massive Online FPS with a Strategic Multiplayer Campaign that takes place in the European theater of war during World War II where Axis and Allies fight for control. Players can choose to play as ‘Heroes’ fighting in the trenches or take a step back and manage battlefield assets, amy units and reinforcements as ‘Generals’. The war is fought out continuously across Windows, iOS and Android devices, and the result of every clash and battle alters the scope of the ongoing war campaign and might affect the final outcome. Every conflict takes place across diverse battlegrounds including contested cities, factories and airfields, each one represented on the strategic map.

The core of the game is a team-based first-person shooter. The player can engage in combat using a variety of customizable weapons and vehicles such as tanks and fighter planes. The game is classless and instead the characters’ equipment determine what type of soldier they will play as. For example putting on a pilot suit will make the character a pilot, but at the same time limit their weapon selection to smaller firearms that can fit in a cockpit.

Each battle in the Action Game is played in a single instance where players fight each other in one of a variety of maps ranging from huge open battlefields covered in trenches to small contested cities with intense close quarters combat. Each map features multiple game modes.

The Action Game can be played alone or in groups called Assault Teams. Assault Teams can be customized and upgraded with special equipment that benefits the entire group and gives the leading ‘General’ a greater chance of success on The Strategic Layer.

The action-game extends into a strategic top layer that binds the individual FPS sessions into a larger war. On the strategic level players are able to command other players or entire groups in Assault Teams into combat. On top of that the strategic players have to manage resources and reinforcements in order to secure key locations on the battle map.

Each part of the game can be played separately and are designed to be enjoyable for everyone no matter how deeply they wish to be involved in the war. Heroes & Generals unique combination of FPS and Strategy gameplay allows players to participate in the grand online war at hugely different levels. Once-a-week FPS gamers can play alongside hardcore 10-hours-aday master strategists, and all players play their role in the grand war.

Heroes & Generals is a Free2Play game and offers a rich experience for everyone who plays the game. Players can choose to spend in-game credits on special upgrades for the players personal characters (Personal F2P) or their Assault Teams giving benefits to other players as well (Social F2P). In-game credits can be earned by being active in the game, completing FPS missions and controlling Assault Teams, or they can be purchased with real world money.

Reto-Moto strives to make a balanced design in all the game-influencing items. One example is the Weapon Modification system: All weapon modifiers will be balanced, so that you may choose to increase, for instance, precision for a weapon, but at the cost of decreasing, for instance, range. This means that you’ll not be able to get one golden super-weapon which is just better than all other weapons, but instead you’ll have an extremely specialized weapon, which is really good at certain things.

There will also be an perk-system where you, based on your actions, can earn Ribbons, which can be combined into Badges. Badges will give you certain perks, but you can only wear a few Badges at the time. Ribbons and Badges cannot be bought for any currency though.

Reto-Moto also offer a Premium Subscription to accommodate wishes of having an all-inclusive package, where you earn in-game credits at an increased rate, all your characters can wear two combat badges instead of one, you earn combat ribbons and badges faster, and more.

Heroes & Generals is build for multiple platforms all connected to the same massive universe. The action part of the game is playable on PC, and the strategy part of the game is accessible on PC and iOS/Android through the free app Heroes & Generals: Mobile Command. In the first version of the app, players will be able to get a live overview of the Campaign showing enemy and friendly Assault Teams movements, and the build-in chat client they allows them to stay in touch with their brothers in arms 24/7 from virtually anywhere. In the next version of Heroes & Generals: Mobile Command players will be able to move and manage Assault Teams in the app as well.

The Action part of Heroes & Generals is powered by the custom build Retox engine. The graphics engine is designed specifically towards online gameplay minimizing downloads and supporting frequent updates. Retox offers full blown AAA graphics and is capable of running in a web browser (IE, Chrome and Firefox supported) using DX11 for high end PC’s and DX9 for lower spec PC’s.

I was invited to try out an alpha version of Heroes & Generals. I’d like to say that I played the heck out of this game and have a lot of info for my readers, but unfortunately my schedule has been incredibly hectic this week. To top it off, Heroes & Generals is predominantly a first person shooter which isn’t my preferred genre of choice. Let’s just say that the whole “couldn’t hit the blind side of a barn” analogy very much applies to me in shooters. I’m just plain bad at them when it comes to facing off against other humans, which is precisely what this ambitious game is all about.

Heroes & Generals, a 3D shooter with strategy elements is, surprisingly, played in your browser. The developers advised me that the alpha version that I was going to try would likely be unstable and that errors were to be expected, but fortunately I didn’t encounter a single problem of any kind while playing which reflects quite positively on Reto-Moto. Despite the early stage of development that this game is in, it’s still quite playable. The full game, which will be free to play, will probably be quite robust.

Unfortunately I didn’t spend a great deal of time with the strategy side of Heroes & Generals, which involves moving units across a map of Western Europe to dictate advances as you fight for power. When opposing sides (Allied Forces and Axis Forces) meet on the map, a first person shooter conflict ensues. I opted to mostly immerse myself in the first person shooter aspect of the game. The first location I selected to spawn in was originally deserted, so I had a few moments to configure my controls and video settings. It is worth noting that Heroes & Generals is surprisingly customizable for a browser game. While it obviously does not have graphics that rival current generation shooters, it looks very nice for something that is free to play. I was very surprised by the draw distance in this game, as I was able to spot other players from quite a distance.

Once several players on both teams spawn in a game, things can get quite interesting. There are many areas to hide in and get the jump on opponents, and I found the maps in Heroes & Generals to have far more strategic locations to use to your advantage than many retail shooters such as those found in the Call of Duty or Battlefield games. I’m usually pretty stealthy and like to lurk around maps as a way to compensate for my relatively poor aiming skills, and I was very impressed to find that Heroes & Generals was very accommodating to me. I still didn’t pull off any nice kills on other players, but the whole idea of ducking and hiding among various buildings and objects littering the game world and using them to work my way into a nice and sneaky position for an ambush was still lots of fun. I expect this to be a very enjoyable game when large scale battles occur.

Reto-Moto held a gaming session with those who they designated as media/press. Unfortunately I had to tend to personal matters and couldn’t make it, so I wasn’t able to get their insight on the game. Regardless, it’s clear that they are putting a lot of love into this game and it certainly shows. Provided word of this game gets around, I expect Heroes & Generals to have a pretty devout and faithful following when it is ready for public release.

Watch for Heroes & Generals to be released and free to play later this year.

Minimum System Requirements:
● 2GHz CPU w. SSE3 instruction set- dual-core recommended
● 1.5 GB RAM – 2 or more recommended
● ATI HD 2600 or above (with >256mb RAM)
● Nvidia 8600GT or above (with >256mb RAM)
● Windows XP, Vista or 7

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Heroes & Generals Preview

I was recently invited to try out an alpha version of Heroes & Generals because, surprisingly, I somehow count as press now. I’d like to say that I played the heck out of this game and have a lot of info for my readers, but unfortunately my schedule has been incredibly hectic this week. To top it off, Heroes & Generals is predominantly a first person shooter which isn’t my preferred genre of choice. Let’s just say that the whole “couldn’t hit the blind side of a barn” analogy very much applies to me in shooters. I’m just plain bad at them when it comes to facing off against other humans, which is precisely what this ambitious game is all about.

Heroes & Generals, a 3D shooter with strategy elements is, surprisingly, played in your browser. The developers advised me that the alpha version that I was going to try would likely be unstable and that errors were to be expected, but fortunately I didn’t encounter a single problem of any kind while playing which reflects quite positively on Reto-Moto. Despite the early stage of development that this game is in, it’s still quite playable. The full game, which will be free to play, will probably be quite robust.

Unfortunately I didn’t spend a great deal of time with the strategy side of Heroes & Generals, which involves moving units across a map of Western Europe to dictate advances as you fight for power. When opposing sides (Allied Forces and Axis Forces) meet on the map, a first person shooter conflict ensues. I opted to mostly immerse myself in the first person shooter aspect of the game. The first location I selected to spawn in was originally deserted, so I had a few moments to configure my controls and video settings. It is worth noting that Heroes & Generals is surprisingly customizable for a browser game. While it obviously does not have graphics that rival current generation shooters, it looks very nice for something that is free to play. I was very surprised by the draw distance in this game, as I was able to spot other players from quite a distance.

Once several players on both teams spawn in a game, things can get quite interesting. There are many areas to hide in and get the jump on opponents, and I found the maps in Heroes & Generals to have far more strategic locations to use to your advantage than many retail shooters such as those found in the Call of Duty or Battlefield games. I’m usually pretty stealthy and like to lurk around maps as a way to compensate for my relatively poor aiming skills, and I was very impressed to find that Heroes & Generals was very accommodating to me. I still didn’t pull off any nice kills on other players, but the whole idea of ducking and hiding among various buildings and objects littering the game world and using them to work my way into a nice and sneaky position for an ambush was still lots of fun. I expect this to be a very enjoyable game when large scale battles occur.

Reto-Moto held a gaming session with those who they designated as media/press. Unfortunately I had to tend to personal matters and couldn’t make it, so I wasn’t able to get their insight on the game. Regardless, it’s clear that they are putting a lot of love into this game and it certainly shows. Provided word of this game gets around, I expect Heroes & Generals to have a pretty devout and faithful following when it is ready for public release.

Cities XL 2011 (Review)

“The new SimCity is everything you’d expect it to be and mo… Hey, wait a second!”

A few years ago, SimCity Societies was released to end the drought of city building games. Fans of the SimCity franchise rejoiced as the game was released, but once it was in the hands of the public, everyone came to a horrible realization. This wasn’t SimCity anymore. Just as The Sims had been dumbed down and Spore failed to impress anyone beyond casual gamers, SimCity had now become a watered down version of it’s former self that lacked depth and soul. Gone were the days of epic city building experiences, replaced by a basic and shallow gameplay experience that literally let players make whatever kind of city they wished without any consequences.

As a SimCity fanatic, I was pretty let down when Societies was released. I still play it sometimes even to this day, but the thrill isn’t there and I never look forward to making vast cities in it. I figured that Societies probably drove a stake in the city building simulation genre, and it seemed like it did just that for a while. Things were eerily quiet for fans of city building sims for a while until a low profile developer known as Monte Cristo decided to take on the genre with Cities Unlimited, which later became Cities XL and, finally, Cities XL 2011. The version I am about to review is Cities XL 2011, which will be the final version of the product considering Monte Cristo is now bankrupt and defunct.

Click to enlarge.

First off, Cities XL 2011 is good. Really good. The game takes the city building formula popularized by SimCity and creates an experience that would be far more deserving of the SimCity title than Societies ever was. The core gameplay is nothing new at all. Build a powerplant to power the city, construct industries so that your people can work, make sure the roads are sufficient for increasing volumes of traffic, and so forth. As I said, it’s what we have all seen before and have done over and over in SimCity titles. Cities XL does give the player more freedom and control when placing things, however. For starters, players have complete control over roads. You can lay them in any direction or shape that you desire. The result is fantastic, allowing cities in the game to look far more natural and less grid-like than what we’re used to in the SimCity series. Building placement is pixel perfect, replacing the grid-style placement system from SimCity. You can be so precise with where you want to set your buildings in Cities XL that it really is fantastic. Having so much control over building and road placement really helps give the city an organic feel, which is just the thing that city building sims needed.

The core “RCI” gameplay is of course present and plays center stage. For those who do not know what RCI is, it stands for residential, commercial, and industrial. Residential is housing for your populace, commercial serves as retail outlets and lesiure locations, and industrial is obviously where your citizens go to work. Balancing the three is as pivotal as it was in SimCity, but Cities XL makes things a little more complicated by throwing several different social classes at players. Your population is divided into four parts: unskilled labourers, skilled labourers, executives, and elites. Each class requires different employment and housing needs, so you really have to keep your eye on all of them at once. Your executives may require more jobs, so you’ll want to set down some office buildings… But then the executives might be stealing jobs from the lesser educated skilled labourers, thus creating the need for more jobs. It’s not too difficult once you realize that each group of working class people require different industries to work in. While executives will typically fill management and office jobs, your unskilled labourer population will mostly have to find work in stingy factories and warehouses. It’s pretty easy to get the hang of once the ball gets rolling.

Click to enlarge.

The only thing that really lets me down about the gameplay is that the game feels too easy. Perhaps it is because I’ve just played too many city building games, but I just don’t find Cities XL to be challenging once you realize what each class of people needs from you. You just have to balance industrial and residential so that all of your workplaces are full and that there is no unemployment while, at the same time, making sure that there are schools, police stations, and other vital buildings present where there is demand for them.

Still, the gameplay is very addicting and deeply satisfying. Watching your city grow is a very enjoyable experience and is sure to be one that lasts quite a while since the maps are extremely large in Cities XL 2011. Your population will be hitting six digits long before you have come close to even filling a tenth of the map. They are really large and vast, which is fantastic.

The graphics are pretty adequate overall. They are certainly not breathtaking or revolutionary, but they are a step up from the graphics in competitor games such as SimCity Societies. Buildings are all fully 3D and look like what they are labelled as, and your city really looks alive as pedestrians and traffic zip around your city sidewalks and streets in a believable fashion. Though the graphics aren’t going to wow you, they certainly are detailed and are pleasant to look at. The people in the game look a little weird when you zoom in on them, but it’s not too much of a bother if cartoony models don’t upset you.

Click to enlarge.

Cities XL 2011 has quite a nice, relaxing soundtrack to enjoy while you build your cities. Thankfully it never gets over the top or silly, as is the case with SimCity titles. Sound effects are also pretty decent. You won’t hear too much when you are zoomed out from your city and are building, but when you zoom right in to the street level, you’ll hear every vehicle driving by along with any sound effects created by buildings in your city. The game sounds pretty immersive at the maximum zoom level, but I’ve noticed that there is a strange glitch that occurs sometimes when you zoom back out. At times, even at distant zoom levels, you will still hear everything at street level for several seconds. Sometimes it can even go on for about a minute which is odd, but it doesn’t really hamper the overall experience much.

Overall, Cities XL 2011 feels more like a SimCity game than SimCity Societies does and, in many ways, is the true successor to Sim City 4. If you enjoy city building sims and want to play one that is truly worth your time, then Cities XL 2011 is the way to go.

Final Score

8.9/10

Destrega (Retro Review)


“A lost gem from the original Playstation’s era that more fighting game fans should be aware of.”

Back in 1998, I remember buying an official of the Official Playstation Magazine, the PS1 magazine that came with free demo discs. I remember skimming through the games on the demo disc, not finding a whole lot which I was interested in, but then I stumbled across a game on the rotating wheel of demos that had a peculiar name that stuck out like a sore thumb. Destrega. What an unusual name I thought at the time, but what’s truly unusual is how little known this gem is today.

Destrega is a fighting game by KOEI, a company that has never done anything truly remarkable for video games outside of Japan. I’ve always believed that KOEI usually had no idea what they’re usually doing, and Destrega is proof of that. The game is, as a whole, fairly competent and moderately enjoyable to play. However, the game received barely any marketing at all and, as a result, Destrega was released with pretty much nobody knowing it even existed and that’s a shame.

By 1998 standards, Destrega was a bit behind the competition in terms of roster size and rewards/unlockables. The game has a mere twelve characters and the only unlockables in the entire game are a few unlockable outfits. The available game modes are typical fare, such as arcade, versus, story, and practice. There is little to do in the game besides just fight or play the painful story mode. Still, I love this game an awful lot. How can a game that is apparently lacking in so many areas be loved by me? Well, it’s time for me to explain that now that I’ve mentioned what this game lacks.

Destrega has perhaps only one feature that is well above average, and that is the fighting system itself. The presentation is awful, the music is laughable at best, and the graphics are mostly just decent, but the core fighting system is enough to look past all of this game’s shortcomings. So how could a game with so many faults still be considered awesome solely for it’s fighting system? The answer is simple. Destrega’s fights are not just innovative, but they are also incredibly strategic. While a lot of fighting vets and tournament junkies will be obsessing over Street Fighter’s frame data and such, they are overlooking a game in which conventional fighting game logic and strategies are thrown out the window. This fighting game is, honestly, the video game version of chess.

Destrega is played on a 3D field that players can freely roam. This is usually hell in fighting games, but because of the strategy involved in Destrega, it works out well. You see, this game isn’t your typical hand-to-hand fighter and most of the actual “fighting” between characters will take place dozens of feet from one another. Destrega abandons movesets and special attacks and instead adopts a creative magic projectile attack system that operates using three buttons. To throw a quick projectile, the player simply presses square, while triangle is used for power attacks and circle executes ranged attacks. The X button? Why, that’s used for jumping! The shoulder buttons are also used. You’ve got a button for dashing and a button that functions as both a block for both physical attacks and magic projectiles. By pressing X to jump and then pressing the block button, a magic shield is erected around the player that repels any and all incoming projectiles.

The object of Destrega is to utilize the speed, power, and range projectile attacks, as well as the magic shield, in a way that will enable you to outsmart your opponent. Deciding what attack to perform is always the most important decision. Speed attacks will zip across the screen and hit the opponent almost instantly, power attacks travel relatively slowly but pack quite a bunch, and range attacks are a bit of a balance between power and speed but, as the name implies, only have a limited range. Below the player’s health bar is a stamina bar which ulimately decides what the player can do and when. You see, performing any attack will take a chunk of your stamina bar off. It regenerates automatically and rather quickly, but performing too many attacks and draining it completely will leave the player fairly helpless for a few seconds.

Adding even more strategy to the combat is a type of attack I haven’t mentioned yet, and that is the combo attack. Players can chain attacks together before they are thrown at the enemy, resulting in completely new attacks. Pressing the speed and then the power button will result in an attack that covers ground quickly and also hurts quite a bit, which automatically makes it more effective than the default range attack even though it is more costly to use. Players can also “power up” the default attacks by pressing the attack buttons three times in a row. Pressing square (speed attack) three times results in several fast moving projectiles while pressing triangle (power attack) three times will more often than not launch a huge wave of devastating projectiles at the opponent.

Each character also has what I like to call an “ultimate attack.” To perform one of these attacks, the player must simply wait until their stamina bar is full and then press square, triangle, and circle in any order. This will completely deplete the stamina bar, but it unleashes an attack that literally maximizes power, range, and speed. These devastating attacks will tear through any defense, forcing opposing players to run for cover.

There is so much potential and so many different attack combinations with each character that checking out each character becomes a lot of fun. Each character has their own element or attack type, which guarantees that no two characters feel the same. For example, the character named Gradd, who looks like Jin Kazama with a haircut, attacks with fireballs. Another character named Tieme, who appears to be a knight, shoots laser-like air attacks with his swords. Other characters attack with ice, rock, and shadows. A few others even use more obscure and unusual attacks. There is a ninja character who attacks exclusively with shurikens and large pinwheel-like “things” while a little girl character quite literally attacks with colourful neon shapes such as an X, a triangle, a circle, and a square. Hey, wait second… Those shapes seem awfully familiar!

Overall, the gameplay is incredibly solid and is very strategic. Out of all the fighting games I have ever played, reading your opponent was most important in Destrega. In fact, if you don’t read their movements and predict their attacks, you will most certainly lose.

So, while the presentation of the game isn’t the best and there are extremely few unlockables in the game, Destrega can still hold it’s own due to it’s fantastic fighting system that I fear was ahead of it’s time and went to waste. Had Capcom or Namco adopted a fighting system such as the one seen in Destrega, we would’ve seen the birth of a new famous franchise. I bet on it.

Destrega is available online from various retailers such as eBay, though I can’t always guarantee that you will find a copy. I was quite lucky to end up with a copy of this ultra rare game myself! So if you’re curious and want to check out this lost gem from the Playstation era, then I wish you happy hunting!

Final Score

8.5/10

Worms: Reloaded (Review)

“Worms return to the PC with perhaps their best games in years.”

I’ve been a Worms fan for several years now. While I have not played every game in the series, I have played several and know Worms enough to judge whether or not a new game in the series is worth the attention of long time fans. So is Worms: Reloaded the long awaited successor to Worms Armageddon? Yes and no.

If you’re familiar with any of the Worms games, then I shouldn’t have to explain the gameplay. In fact, if you are reading this review, then you probably at least already know how Worms plays. Worms has always been about strategic turn-based wars starring cute and/or funny worms who are all loaded to the teeth with destructive weapons. Reloaded does not change this formula much, aside from adding a few new weapons and tweaking the physics slightly.

In Reloaded, I found the physics to be much more “realistic” than what I’ve found in previous Worms titles. Grenades and other thrown weapons do not bounce as well as they used to, usually grounding themselves as soon as they hit their mark. This makes some weapons, such as the cluster grenade, not as useful as before. Fortunately, the banana bomb is still as destructive as ever!

Reloaded introduces a few new weapons. Players will find ferrets, termites, worship totem, steal, invisibility, and mark of death. Ferrets are a bit like the sheep, only I find that it’s easier to direct them. Ferrets track across the terrain, climbing up and over places that the Worms cannot traverse and violently exploding once come into contact with a worm. Termites are a little interesting, as they seem to dig random tunnels wherever the player drops them. The worship item drops a totem that periodically heals the player while hurting the opposing team. Steal enables the player to simply steal a weapon from the enemy, which could be fairly useful in some situations. Invisibility makes your warms invisible to the opponents, which is a pretty clever technique. Finally, mark of death can be placed on any worm to increase the damage they take by leaps and bounds.

Controls are very responsive and easy to use. My only complaint is that the game does not seem to accept button mapping, for some odd reason. I tried to reassign my controls on my gamepad and keyboard, but they would not seem to stay. They could be reconfigured in the controls menu, but unless I am missing something, they reset to their defaults as soon as you exit the controls menu. There is no accept or confirm button on the controls menu, only a back button. As soon as you click on the button, the controls are reset. If I’m wrong about this, I would actually really like to be corrected. Leave a comment if I got this wrong.

In terms of game content, everything you’d expect to see in the game is present, along with some nice extras. The single player experience has a few campaigns which present you with puzzle levels and other such things. I didn’t particularly enjoy the campaign mode much, feeling that the gameplay was too bland and restricted. The custom and quick game options return of course, as well as online play.

There is also a shop, where you can purchase new items and customization options using a currency that you receive by completing single player campaign missions. On top of this, there is also a level editor. It’s fairly primitive and doesn’t allow you to do a great deal, but it’s always fun to play on your own self-made landscape.

Reloaded features some nice customization options. As usual, you are allowed to make a team of worms, name them, and assign voices to them. There is a bit more customization this time around however with the ability to set skin colour as well as choose a head piece for your words to wear. Predator helmets, caps, amusing hairstyles and foods are just some of the things that you can stick on the heads of your worms, and allowing you to customize your worms that little bit more adds a good dosage of fun and immersion to the game.

The visuals are cute and simple, which is typical of Worms games. The graphics will not win any awards or turn any heads due to their simplicity, but the overall graphical style is fairly pleasant and it is hard not to enjoy watching the worms squirm and wiggle around the levels. It is difficult for me to say the same about the game’s music, however. While ingame music that plays on the maps isn’t too bad, I was just turned off by the main menu music. Previous Worms games had happy theme songs and such, but Reloaded takes a different approach by having a fairly brooding theme play on the main menu which sounds quite out of place.

Overall, Worms: Reloaded is a pretty enjoyable game. It is your typical Worms experience, so if you’re a fan of Worms then you should probably like Reloaded. This is probably one of the better Worms games that I have played. It’s certainly better than the recent console adaptations, and is perhaps even better than Armageddon. There are a few things I don’t like however, such as the “sticky” physics and inability to change my controls. Aside from those two minor complaints, Reloaded is quite fun and I encourage all Worms fans to give it a try. It can be downloaded off of Steam for about $20.

Final Score

8.6/10

Gratuitous Space Battles (Review)

“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.

Final Score

8.2/10