Brace yourselves, because I feel this one will piss off two of the most fanatical groups in the history of PC gaming.
When I first saw the trailers for this game I immediately knew this is something I might like. But I was cautious, it's COD after all. The backlash from fanboys was brutal against it, they were raging against the machine, and shrieking: "This is not what we wanted! How dare they, make the game they wanted and not the one we demanded?" The like / dislike ratio on the trailer was abysmal.
And I felt the odd one out because I really liked it. But due to the backlash and shit thrown around. I held off on purchasing the game. I all but forgot about it completely (and what a mistake that would've been). When a few weeks ago, well actually only just two weeks ago, I noticed a game listed for 7.50. And I wasn't sure if that was the game I liked the trailer of a year ago or not. I had to double check. And when I realized it was in fact that COD game I didn't think twice about pulling the trigger. Even if the fanboys are right and this game was crap, 7.50? I was more than willing to make that bet.
So after that little prelude let's see what the game actually is? Well it's the space / scifi enthusiasts wet dream, that's what it is. It borrows ideas from many places, but implement them so well, that I was almost instantly hooked on it. As I got to know the game better and better, I started to feel smaller and smaller in comparison thinking to myself, "man, this game is amazing" . The last time I felt anything like that was with Mass Effect, when I first got out into the cosmos and was free to choose which planet to visit.
OK hold your horses I know this is not mass effect, but it sure as hell does a great impression of it in some places. You don't get the freedom, or the level of character interaction of mass effect, but it's still a story driven game, and a damn good one. Very strong emotionally, very engaging, brilliantly executed.
But it doesn't just stop there. I think this is the best impression of what we'll get for a very long time on what Squadron 42 was promised to be. (Told ya I'm going to piss off two groups) While Chris Roberts was just talking about making a story driven space sim with ground combat elements. Infinity ward went ahead and made it. Sure they didn't promise everything and then some. But they made a very solid little game. The space flight parts are much simplified it's not a space sim for sure, but I'm willing to bet my entire SC pledge that the ground combat part is infinitely better in this than the one SQ42 will ever have. (see what I did there?) But despite not being a space sim, the manoeuvring of your ship in space feels closer to reality than any of the so called space sims I played (Meaning X-wing &Co and the Wing Commander series)
At least you don't have to learn a bunch of keyboard shortcuts to fly. You use WSAD as directional trusters (eg move forward back, and sideways) space and ctrl to move up and down. And the mouse to change the direction you're facing. Which would make the dogfights a pain if not for the lock on aid, which is basically an auto follow feature, meaning when you lock on to an enemy your ship will try to roughly follow it's flight path, you only have to worry about hitting it with your gun. And speaking of guns, your ship has two weapons, onre rapid fire and one heavy but slow firing, that can be upgraded later, they have no ammo, they use an overheating mechanic. You don't have shields or any such damage management either. Apart from the flight and basic weapon controls you only have to use two buttons, one to release countermeasures, and one to fire missiles. As I said not a spacesim and I'll be the first to admit it. But still it's very enjoyable. At first I thought the space flight parts will be nothing but an afterthought. Instead they're very well designed and enjoyable on their own merit, not just as distraction. It lacks the complexity of a true sim, but there are none of those on the horizion, so thanks I'll gladly take this in the meantime.
As for the ground fighting, it's as much mass effect as cod. Meaning there are a lot of orchestrated grand battle sequences, that only cod does, but when it comes down to being in the trenches and fighting your way trough the battlefield and scifi corridors, then it feels very much like mass effect. You get a bunch of weapons to choose from, they're wildly different, and a lot of support equipment. Drones, hacking, grenades, anti gravity bombs, portable shield, you name it. Everything just feels right, nothing is out of place. If I have any complaint about the ground fighting it's the fact is the game tries to drive you forward as fast as possible almost all the time. There is no penalty for moving slowly usually, but immersion wise I always tried to keep up with my squad. Yes you fight with a squad here, sometimes with one partner sometimes an entire battalion fights at your side.
But I'm still not finished. The grand fighting sequences between capital ships even though they're only cutscenes (except the last mission, but that's very minimal control as well, and ultimately meaningless) had the vibe of Battlestar Galactica. When a game has the best parts of BSG, Mass Effect, and does what SQ42 only promised, it can't be a bad game can it? No, it can't. At least not to me.
As for the story it's pretty solid, it reminded me of the basic premise of the Expanse series, to mention another show I really like, which this game has something in common with also. The cast is full of A-listers, not AAA listers but many of the characters will be familiar up and coming or already established stars. And they do a good job, except for the cameo guy.
The story is not as typical as you might think, the ending is especially unexpected, they string you on multiple times, and it still doesn't go the way you expect it. But I can't elaborate on it without spoiling too much. Oh and the idea behind the "Peace to the fallen" achievement is award worthy in and of itself. Almost made me shed a tear.
- Walks the walk, not just talks the talk (yes I'm referring to CR)
- A-List cast
- Brilliantly executed story
- It's a culmination of many things that's good in BSG, Mass Effect, Wing Commander
- Unexpectedly good space fight sequences
- And even better gunplay groundside (and in zero gravity)
- Lots of useful goodies. I felt that everything has a purpose and an use, not just useless junk made to extend the list of weapon attachments and equipment.
- Unexpected and well played ending.
- Very nice graphics, the characters look almost lifelike.
- DRM interfering with AV (at least I assume it's the DRM, they'll never wash off that bad reputation) I not just had to disable but completely uninstall the AV software for it to play normally.
- Not quite a spacesim
- I wished for more ways to interact with the crew.
- A few choices wouldn't have hurt, the whole game is completely linear with no divergence (except for the optional raids that only give equipment upgrades)
- A few weird animation issues, like characters looking and talking at you while madly typing away at their keyboards without interruption.
- Checkpoint based saving only, you can't even save on your ship manually. So when I quit the game after each session it was always anyone's guess where I'll continue from.
- You're the doorman! I mean literally you're the only person who can open doors in the game, NPC's always just stand there and wait for you. Except for the very last mission once someone else does it, I bet they made that only to troll you, so you cannot say you had to open all the doors. Well I can still say I had to open all the doors except for one.
- You as the captain of the vessel not just take part in every ground assault you also pilot a fighter ship. Since you have no control over the story anyway, why did your character had to be the captain? It would've been more believable that way. The captain's responsibility is the ship, you can't just run off on missions except in star trek!
As you can see my gripes with the game are quite petty, so don't let the length of that list fool you, this is a very very good game.
graphics : 9/10
concept : 8/10
overall impression: 9/10
All in all I don't care that COD fans didn't want this game, we would be that much poorer for it if it hadn't been made. Now that I played it I can recommend it without hesitation to any sci-fi / space fans.