Build an empire! Conquer planets! Control an entire solar system! The premise of Starpoint Gemini Warlords is undeniably enthralling. Unfortunately, with the release of the « 2.0 » version, with various modifications and tweaks, the game still lacks behind what it could really be.
After a year of space combat, various missions, resource management and other empire-building related tasks, one could think that its work is done. The Gemini star system, where the entire series takes place, is only so big, so filled with missions and other campaign plots, that one can think that after dozens of hours, it would be time to switch to another game.
In order to keep players interested, the developpers from Little Green Men Games put out a few DLC, including Deadly Dozen, with hardened criminals to hunt and destroy, and Titans Return, with the aforementioned Titans warships making a comeback from the previous game, Starpoint Gemini 2. And with the anniversary update, roughly one year after launch, the team promised a plethora of changes, including new diplomatic options.
It was indeed on the diplomatic front that the game was lacking; after all, it’s hardly realistic to be able to build a space empire with blazing guns and other missile tubes, and not run in opposition in the form of other empires and factions that will not accept surrender so easily.
Included in the 2.0 version are some welcome changes that were long overdue: the ships in your fleets will now attack enemy space defenses during a siege, instead of just waiting for you to slowly make your way through the defenses field, blasting away shield platforms and space weapons.
There is also the possibility, when you start a « sandbox » game instead of playing the campaign first, to opt for a « quickstart » mode, where you begin the game with a specific level instead of starting at the bottom of the leader. Said level will be accompanied by a ship, territory, etc. All that’s necessary to quicken the player’s pace towards the empire-building part of the game.
Unfortunately, some problems of the first version are still there: the freelance missions you can accept in order to gain money and experience points are always the same, beside an gradual increase in difficulty over time. Even if you decide to steamroll your way through the game with a sizeable fleet following your ship on missions, the pattern will still be the same: go to a station, select a mission, go to the location of said mission, repair/defend/attack/destroy the objective, and repeat.
No, the main point of Warlords‘ Conquest mode is, well, the conquest. But with dialogue options ranging from « Can we make a deal » to « I hate you », there’s not much to say about it. Sure, one of the go-to games of this specific genre is the medieval-themed Mount and Blade: Warband, where you can indeed administer your own kingdom while also go into combat with an army, isn’t really developped on the politics and diplomacy side, unless you install some mods.
This is indeed what Warlords need: a real political and diplomatic core. We need news about wars raging elsewhere in the system, we need factions vying for influence and power, we need treachery and alliances and system-wide confrontations. It’s not normal to be able to just conquer half a solar system while the other factions go on their lives.
Warlords is a good game. But it feels empty. Not to say that it need to be like Stellaris or other 4X games centered around menus, boxes to check and other lore items delivered on screen via written text. But it needs a jolt, something sturdy to launch itself from. Otherwise, chances are it’ll never be a great game.
Starpoint Gemini Warlords 2.0
Developper: Little Green Men Games
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive