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StarDrive 2

By Bis18marck7005-05-2015
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

The Case

PC gaming has been devoid of some good sci-fi games for far too long. Often considered to be of a dying and slowly phased out genre, they are back in business rocking the gaming community with one title after the other. What started as part of the crowdfunding 'revolution' quickly transformed into a sci-fi revival across the board. Now StarDrive 2 emerged from the depths of space. Question is, is this a keeper or shall we cast it out the airlock?

The Trial

I have no regrets. Nor do I make excuses. Neither do I want a lecture in morals or ethics. I burned that world for the good of my empire and had I not done it, more than one would have suffered for my lack of resolve. I had to make an example of what happens to those that oppose my divine right to rule the galaxy. If that example comes at the tips of nuclear warheads, then so be it. One quick decisive action secured peace for years to come and saved many, many lives, especially but not exclusively of my own subjects.

My empire is built, completed and the galaxy once again in balance. It's hard to argue in a unipolar universe and even harder to argue with five battleships and seven cruisers coming out of hyperspace. That rebel scum will soon realise the errors of their ways. Before that however, let's be clear on one thing. I exact vengeance with extreme prejudice.

The map that’s going to be history when I’m done here.

The map that’s going to be history when I’m done here.

StarDrive 2 surely has the makings of a game I would spend hours on. In fact I have and for good reasons. It's more than solid galactic civilization builder and it makes for a good evening with a tea, some biscuits and Prussian marching music. At the same time, it is hard to explain what exactly is so appealing. The game for one, visually, is not fantastic but that is not required in such a game. If it looked reasonably presentable than the graphic department has done its job. With SD2, it has. Acoustically it also doesn't score high but neither does it fail in that regard. The sound effects are generic and it becomes obvious that they did not receive special attention. A shame in its own right, but not a broken bone.

The appeal comes from that old Galactic Civilization feeling. A vast universe, ripe for the taking build upon an easy to understand system. With plenty of ways to build up your planets and research new technologies, the game certainly rewards the player’s efforts for efficiency. That being said, the appeal itself is what carries the gaming experience. StarDrive 2 neither innovates enough, nor does it have as much detail and complexity as Galactic Civilization. It feels somewhat washed out, or streamlined, as if the developers feared that a complex games with many decisions and fail stages would not do well in today's gaming world. Maybe they are right and I am a relic from another time but, I will be honest, while I enjoyed StarDrive 2, I am conscious of the fact that my enjoyment came out of the fact that I longed for a modern GC rather than StarDrive 2 being a fleshed out game.

As mentioned in my preview, the game is simple. A few measures are thrown in here and there to hamper the player’s progress but overall, the game is hardly a challenge. The fact that you can only own a certain amount of vessels depending on the amount of command points your empire possesses is probably the only reason why my fleets could not simply fan out in all directions and destroy multiple empires at the same time. Speaking of ships, you can design your own. Not in appearance mind you (unlike, you know, older games that allowed you to do so) but in equipment. It's fun, really. Sad only that with a bit of thought player designed ships completely wreck any A.I. ships. Well, that wouldn't be a problem if we had multiplayer and one would face off against purpose build vessels rather than generic run of the mill spaceships. Yet, we don't. StarDrive 2 is single player only.

Two down and measly three to go.

Two down and measly three to go.

It doesn't help either that the game fails to make you feel as being part of a distinct race. Sure, their looks and ships are distinct, but apart from that? Every nations ultimately plays in very much the same way and with hardly any difference between the tech trees, there is little diversification while the game progresses. While choosing what research you conduct is probably one of the most innovative part of the game, the innovation is thrown out of the window because it becomes incredibly easy to acquire technology via trade and/or espionage. It would have been great to see empires being able to prioritize the safeguarding of certain technology, thus making it incredibly hard to leak to another galactic race. Alas, we don't have that either.

The Verdict

StarDrive 2 is an underachiever. That doesn’t make it bad. Overall it’s an engaging game and definitely worth picking up if you crave for the good old days of galactic empire building. When you do so however, keep in mind that you’ll get a game that shows that it could very well have been so much more but ended up slightly washed out. It is easy, carried by its genre and physical appeal rather than by any in-depth gameplay.

Case Review

  • Genre: Carries the day.
  • Empire: Building a galactic empire has its own unique appeal.
  • Innovation: Some good ideas that don’t fulfil their true potential.
  • Gameplay: A well established platform to build your empire.
  • Longevity: Lack of story driven campaign/multiplayer hurts the titles longevity.
  • Difficulty: There is none.
  • Mulitplayer: Would have done away with the difficulty problem. Alas.


Score: 3/5
Starved for a galactic empire builder? Buy it. If not, think hard and wait for a sale.
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