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Starpoint Gemini 2

By Bis18marck7031-10-2014
StuntmanLT (editor)
MrJenssen (editor)
Starpoint Gemini 2

The Defence

Little Green Men Games
Iceberg Interactive
Role Playing, Simulator
Release Date:

The Prosecution

Intel Core 2 Duo 3.0 GHz
AMD equivalent
Nvidia GeForce 460
AMD equivalent
4 GB
8 GB
10, 11

The Case

Starpoint Gemini 2 is one of those games with a formula that either works brilliantly or fails catastrophically. In our preview, I talked about the games potential and when it launched, I was all over it. A mixture between Freelancer, the X Universe and Homeworld, the title held promise and also added some distinctiveness by its own design choices. The question is now whether the smoothie has the taste we crave.

The Trial

In some ways, it certainly pulled it off. The Universe is wide and expansive, there are a sizable number of diverse ships and weapon systems and the RPG elements are purposely kept light enough to not cause frustration over the fact that they could indeed have been more substantive. The distinctive ‘global’ feel of the universe also speaks in its favour, with plenty of culturally diverse factions and ethnicities to portray a human civilization that has taken to the stars. Seeing the game in developments, it was also great to see the interactivity of the devs with their community.

In space no one can hear them scream.

In space no one can hear them scream.

But that’s where the good stuff stops and problems set in. You see, as much as the foundation is there, Starpoint Gemini 2 feels empty. The faction and reputation system fails to add depth as the player is hardly ever drawn into it via game design but only engages with it platonically by having a few random ships to shoot at. The sandbox elements have, sadly, not changed much since its pre-release version. Back then, exploring the universe was something I’d gladly do as I prepared myself for the eventual release. Yet, with a few changes left aside, the sandbox elements remain the same as before. While back then it was interesting to see how the developers had created the universe, now it had little to show for itself. Now, that in itself is excusable if the story arc and campaign was any good – problem is that it isn’t.

Here it becomes complicated though. The story itself is not the issue. Cringe worthy dialogues and buggy audio sequences aside, the overall story isn’t too bad. Sure, one doesn’t feel any direct connection with the protagonist nor other NPCs, but the story can be followed without flipping once. The problem is the game design and how the story is interwoven with the sandbox elements. Basically every story mission has a recommended level which, as you progress, often outclasses your own by a few notches. This is where the sandbox comes in. So as you go through side quest, destroy ships and sell goods, you prepare yourself for the next mission. Yet, with little to show for it in the sandbox, these numerous intervals, unnecessarily break up the flow of the game. There could have been a few ways these sequences would have benefited the game, from wide-ranging side quests, to faction related missions to using the time available to bond the player to the protagonist by giving our hero a little bit screen time. Alas, it’s like the bugger doesn’t exist.

So empty, but at least looks pretty.

So empty, but at least looks pretty.

Now take a game like Freelancer and you’ll see the same. In that tile however, the sequences in which the player was supposed to earn money, fend for himself and upgrade the armoury were timed in such a manner as to not interfere with the main enjoyment of the storyline, but rather compliment it by allowing the player to explore new sectors and experiment with weaponry and ships. Starpoint Gemini 2 doesn’t do the same. Nearly every new story mission you have is set at a level or two above you and while this certainly doesn’t mean you can’t succeed, it does beg the question what you are supposed to do in the meantime. Sure, action is easily found but running one side quest after the other, without much variation between them does bring about a boredom rivalled only just by the size of the games universe. Ultimately, the game boils down to lengthy, joyless rides of doing the same over and over again until you finally are at the recommended level for the story missions. Destroying ships, repairing stations and escorting VIPs only stays interesting for so long. After that, it becomes a true drag.

The price the game pays for these intervals is massive. The story feels disconnected, not by content but by game design. To compensate, the player searches in vain for something to keep his interest going. I’ll be honest. Had I not been given this job, I wouldn’t have bothered to play this game longer than a few hours. And that comes from someone with countless hours in the X-Universe, an avid flight simer and simulation game fan – which is a genre that doesn’t particularly stand out as using action to keep a players interest. Starpoint Gemini 2 is simply empty. It has the base and foundation to allow for interesting and time-consuming gameplay but outside the storyline the sandbox element is devoid of any meaningful content that keeps the player engaged. Looking at a lack of content in the Steam Workshop for an arguably extensively moddable game, I wonder how many would-be modders simply never got to make content as the game didn’t keep them engaged.

Those VIP’s and their escort missions...

Those VIP’s and their escort missions...

While fights seem to last a bit longer now than in the initial versions, once you are really used to the mechanics it’s a simple sit back and relax job. While visually and acoustically appealing and thus allowing for some bombastic fights, the game fails to deliver truly spectacular engagements. Sure, fly something fast and agile and you’ll have to maneuver yourself into a good firing solution, but the overall difficulty comes more from being reckless than from any direct in-game threat or a smart AI. Truly, you can disengage from most battles with a mere click of the button. Granted, it doesn’t always work but it damn well nearly always does. It’s a shame because it takes away a lot of the risk management I would have liked to have seen.

The Verdict

When it comes down to it, Starpoint Gemini 2 isn’t bad as a program. It has a solid foundation, a stable build and the assets to make a great universe. But that’s where it stops. Mods could definitely work in the games favour but as a players interest in the game falters fast, I doubt we will see substantive alterations. Shame.

Case Review

  • Universe: Large, seamless and plenty to explore.
  • Mod Potential: Provides a great basis for modding.
  • Story Time: It’s there, does its job and adds a bit of life.
  • The Void: Outside of the story, content is as sparse as our universe is empty.
  • Game Design: Keeping yourself immersed is an incredible personal achievement.
  • Wasted Potential: Nothing worse than that.
Score: 2.5/5
Solid foundation with nothing on top.


If I had one complaint with the burgeoning space-game genre, it’s that no game has yet to deliver on the ‘Battlestar Galactica’ feel of captaining a massive spaceship. We’ve never had a game that truly captures the ponderous feel of captaining a massive spaceship, injected with the atmosphere of it being an entire city crammed into one spacefaring transport. With a gunship as the starting class, a single step down from an actual frigate, and a promise of massive carriers carrying dozens of their own fighters, Starpoint Gemini 2 fosters that little hope. But does it deliver?

Carrying with it all the classic features of Freelancer, Starpoint Gemini 2 is no slouch in the space-game department, showcasing a beautifully crafted universe through a bevy of well-designed ships. Trading is comprehensive but not too complicated, smuggling exists and carries with it steep penalties but also great reward. Bounty-hunting and errand-running are excellent ways of making money, but what really rakes in the cash is capturing another ship and towing it back to port. Every ship has a contingent of troopers, ranging from a measly 20 in the starting ship, to hundreds in massive carriers. These troopers are then dispatched on boarding missions midway through the combat, invading the enemy ship and subsequently capturing it for you to scavenge or sell as you see fit. Just don’t blow up the foe while your own men are crawling all over it. As a mechanic, this works amazingly – as a part of the whole though, it shows how the game has fallen just short of the finish line.

As much as Starpoint Gemini 2 delivers on that feeling of captaining a massive spaceship, it takes it away with the same dogfighting one would expect in any other spacegame featuring single-seat fighters. While it is still immense fun to rocket past an enemy, before flipping end on end to unleash your weapons at its rear, it is also absolutely incongruous to pull off such stunts knowing full well how large your ship is. The weapons give off the same vibe, having the flash and sounds of fighter weapons, rather than the massive 16th century cannon-fires one would expect from a massive spaceship. Starpoint Gemini 2 then suffers from attempting to compete with games such as Star Citizen or Elite: Dangerous, jostling with them in a developed dogfighting scene. In doing so, it has lost some of its own unique appeal – ironic considering that one day Star Citizen or Elite may be the games to actually deliver on the promise of large spaceships. In the meantime though, Starpoint Gemini 2 is still a fun romp that brings you the closest you can get of being Admiral Adama aboard the Galactica, shouting orders and having that little shiver of delight when you hear a returning ‘Yes, Captain. Setting course now.’

Score: 3.5/5


Sweet, I've finished the first set of tutorial missions. Hmmm, the game tells me I can either continue with the story missions or go into sandbox mode. Think I'll go into sandbox mode for a bit before jumping into the...wait a damn minute. If I choose sandbox mode I won't be allowed to return to the story missions? Ummm, OK, so much for a choice here. I'll go for the story missions instead. Great! I have my first story mission after the tutorials! Recommended level, level 2. My current level - level 1?!

And there lies the problem...and it's a big problem. For as much as Starpoint Gemini 2 does right it does some things wrong that it really shouldn't. The game looks great. The game has a lot of systems in it that all intermesh well. However... Why is sandbox play exclusive from the story mode? Why is the story/experience curve so out of sink that the very first mission the player is given is a level above them? (This problem repeats itself several more times). Why is the player forced to do side missions to keep up level wise with the story as opposed to the story and the experience/currency/equipment it hand out being properly paced?

All in all, this game is an excellent framework with some serious issues regarding pacing and necessary repetition of side content. If you aren't a diehard fan of the spacesim genre it won't do anything to pull you in. If you are then this is an OK game. It's nothing groundbreaking but on the flipside there's nothing gamebreakingly bad here either. Basically, this is one of those games that's really only as good as what you're willing to put into it which is the mark of a good sandbox...but don't try that mode if you want to do the story. Wait...what?

Score: 3.5/5
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