It’s here: the long-awaited « sequel » to Starpoint Gemini 2, Warlords, came out recently, and although the game still is a little bit rough on the edges, Little Green Men Games potentially has a great game in its hands.
The Starpoint Gemini franchise has always been stuck between a rock and a hard place. Having only picked up the game in its second installment, this journalist was confronted by dilemma: play Starpoint Gemini 2 by following the campaign, or simply do its own thing and rampage the galaxy by destroying everything – and everyone – standing it its way.
However, even in the case of trying to follow the story – something about a murdered father, a quest for revenge and other mysteries -, the player will soon find out that in order to proceed to the next step of the scenario, he needs a better ship, tougher shields, weapons packing more punch… Basically, he needs to gain experience and collect money. And in order to achieve such goals, it is necessary to accomplish diverse freelance missions offered by the authorities based on different space stations and planets.
Gradually, the game devolved in a « grind-fest », where delivering goods, mining asteroids, capturing ships and destroying ennemies give the necessary resources to… deliver pricier goods, mine more asteroids, etc. And herein lies the love-hate reliationship: is it tedious to repeat the same steps over and over again, only to buy bigger and stronger ships? Yes. But it is also strangely satisfactory.
While developping Warlords, Little Green Men Games and editor Iceberg Interactive decided to listen to the players’ feedback. If there’s still the possibility to grind, all this grinding now goes beyond the objective of a bigger, stronger ship. The player is now in charge of his own land, with space stations, planets, maning facilities and science outposts, and he’ll need to expand his dominion by building combat fleets, researching technological advancements and conquering enemy territories.
On paper, that idea is perfect: after all, Starpoint Gemini 2 players wanted to gain a foothold in that game’s universe and make a name for themselves. And with the inclusion of these quasi-realtime strategy mechanics, Warlords will please the gamers who want to control some military forces, but also get some action by participating in the attacks, skirmishes and other assaults. If the game Mount and Blade: Warband come to mind, with its vibrant modding scene, Warlords isn’t up to the task… yet.
The game indeed lack in finesse; while it’s possible to give basic commands to a fleet, for example, such as go there, attack this, follow the player’s ship, etc., it seems impossible, for the moment, to give ships more specialized orders, including military stance, setting a defensive perimeter, or even a patrol order other than manually clicking on the map to create a path. This leads to your ships blindly flying into combat instead of fleeing, for example, when the odds a overwhelmingly unfavorable.
Better graphics, good music, good ideas… even mod support via Steam; Warlords is coming pretty close to being a really great game. This journalist will gladly spend dozens of hours in the Gemini sector, hunting enemy fleets and building his empire. However, our code for the game has been given by the publisher. For the ordinary player who whould need to pay nearly 40 dollars to play Warlords, the title feels like it could have spent a little more time in early access. Let’s hope that Little Green Men Games will continue to update their product to offer a better experience.