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StarDrive 2

By Bis18marck7008-04-2015
StarDrive 2

The Defence

Zero Sum Games
Iceberg Interactive
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core i5 3.5 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce GTX 660
AMD Radeon HD 7850
8 GB
3 GB

It all depends on my mood. It truly does. The fate of any civilization depends upon it. Better keep me happy, I dare say; why otherwise viral bombs will hail down upon you like it’s the fourth of July. Contaminated atmosphere? Spoiled harvests and burned down forests? Do I look like I care? I’ve got a galaxy to conquer and it houses many planets, and rocks, and stars that I can add to my Empire. Your backwater, derelict piece of junk you called home matters not. Never has, never will.

It’s been years since I played Galactic Civilizations 2 and although that game will forever have a place in my heart – what’s left of it anyway – I had all but forgotten it. I moved on, to bigger and better things. So I thought. But then StarDrive 2 came along and, truth be told, I was a bit reluctant. Gone are the times when these games moved me. In the distant past they lay and should rest there or so I thought. But StarDrive 2. It rekindled a fire in me that was presumed extinguished long time ago. Once again, the galaxy burns as I rage through it.  

No, they were blinded by my own benevolence.

No, they were blinded by my own benevolence.

So what makes it so special anyway? What makes a game so enticing that I put aside my joystick, my TrackIr, my pedals and look at my cherished flight sims with a sorry but resolute look: Not today, my babies. Not today. Today I shall finally crush the alliance of xenos and alien filth. Perhaps it’s because such a drastic change of direction paired with a solid galaxy game can only produce one outcome with me. That of immense satisfaction.

Overall, if you have played Galactic Civilizations 2 you’ll master this game in a nutshell. You might even call it a simple remake, shiny yet an obvious clone. I admit, it’s very close to that. But a few changes do shuffle things up a bit and create some interesting dynamics. Take research for example. Divided into a few distinct sections, you will be able to advance along those just like in any other tech tree you’ve known so far. Yet, choose wisely for each tier of research gives you multiple options and only one can be research. The others? Well, to acquire and benefit from those, you’ve got to trade them with your neighbours. No longer do I perceive those people as irrelevant to my cause but as a necessary evil to which good relations must be maintained in order to allow me to get all the good killing stuff.

A neat feature too is the space combat. Now building your vessels is not necessarily as aesthetically complex as in similar, yet older games but it has its own charm. You’re still able to create diverse ships in terms of functionality and military punch. Sadly, the game only gives you set templates on which to build on so piecing together a ship from scratch won’t be an option here. That being said, you can customize the weapons and systems you place on your ships a good deal so the game definitely gets a few points there. Ultimately, what StarDrive 2 lacks in its building part is makes up with its combat. Granted, it is not - how shall I say - in depth. Rather simple to be honest. And it has that Star Wars: Empire at War problem where the space combat is simply better than the ground skirmishes. That said, my major gripe with Galactic Civilizations 2 always was that I could not command the battles and that my ships won’t behave as I had wanted them to. In this game? No problem, Admiral Bismarck got that part covered.

Big Pew Pew Is Best Pew Pew.

Big Pew Pew Is Best Pew Pew.

Overall, StarDrive 2 is looking good. Damn good so far. I could get lost in the game but I do hope that the release title will see a crank up in difficulty. A lengthening of the gameplay would also be appreciated.  A few early ‘make or break’ situations are in place but weather those and it is smooth sailing as you conquer the galaxy. Likewise, whereas a game in Galactic Civ would reach it’s ‘mid-point’ after sometimes 6-8 hours, you’d be hard pressed to have StarDrive 2 last that long. Most likely you’ll already be slaughtering millions of aliens in your second game by that time mark.

However, those points can be put down to gameplay design. What is somewhat disappointing though is that the game lacks diverse species. Yes, you have distinct races (Pandas, Wolves, Mechanicals and what not) all with a certain personality but since they follow the same technological paths they end up with much of the same tech.  In games such as StarDrive 2, it’s always my hope that civilizations go separate ways, sharing technology here and there but also staying unique in the way they handle things. Even if not “fixed” it won’t stop me from playing but it just wouldn’t reach full potential that it has.

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You scare me Bis...