Review by Auto2112
"Star-Trekking, across the Universe..."
That was a rubbish song wasn't it... ah the good ol' days. Anyway, Startopia, the latest offering from the publishing genius that is Eidos and the, what sounds a pretty new company, developing virginity of Mucky Foot. It's a game which isn't too dis-similar to the likes of Red Alert, Starcraft, and Homeworld. In fact, throw them all together and you've pretty much got it. But to make this game successful, ya gotta make it original haven't you? And at a time where RTS are found on every street corner, that takes some doing. And what does this game do? Follow the review...
Splendid. Do the job brilliantly, and never ever look ugly. Maybe there's a bit too much grey involved in the buildings and the space station but if you expect me to mark the graphics down one or two points for that then you're getting pretty petty.
Anyway, everything's 3D. The whole station is a wonder to watch develop and when you get to one end of your segments, turn around and see the other end curving off upwards, with all the little people underneath you, it's a sight to behold.
The best part's gotta be when you're on the bio-deck, and you scroll backwards toward the wall... to find yourself then floating in space, looking at your very own space station haging infront of you. There are planets rotating, spinning around, far away distant galaxies, and you forget that you're playing Startopia the first time this happens. It's a real moment in gaming, especially when you realise that that huge thing in front of you will seem like one rooms worth of space when you zoom back into it.
This is the worst aspect of the game but it's by no means a shambles. The game involves you building the facilities to transform an empty spacestation into a fully functionable trading, leisurely, even a prison based super space port. And although the tutorials are incredibly helpful, there's still big problems.
For instance, whenever you build something, that's about it. You don't have any further info about what that building's doing, what it contains, who you need to employ to work that building, and that makes for confusing yourself a lot. It's a pain when you're told that such a building isn't working because it doesn't have the workers, only for you to then realise that you haven't got a clue who those workers actually are.
It's the same with food and medical supplies. You can buy them, but you don't get told how to use them. So you just end buying them anyway just in case. I honestly couldn't tell you what you use those black market goods or the industrial supplies for. All I do with them is just trade them all the time. It doesn't tell you anywhere in the game about it, nor about trading, or the biodeck and how to use it. It's incredibly vague, the manual that is.
Which is a shame because once you get your head around those niggles there is a good cracking game to play. It's just all that built up frustration will hinder your view of the game. It did with me anyway.
Enjoyable. The music's catchy, if a little annoying at times but you can handle it. The speech for the different alien races is amusing even after the 500th time of hearing it. And the sfx of the ships, and the transition from music to blankness when you exit the biodeck to space is sheer joy.
For once, i'm pleased with the sound. A real success.
I have only had the game for about a week and so far it's looking to be an increasingly difficult yet fun to play strategy game. With the online capabilities as well as the option to create your own skirmishes it's a hell of a long time before you get bored of this. And i'm not bored yet.
A great game. if the niggles with figuring out what certain things do was fixed, this would be a classic. However those niggles are too noticeable to forget about them. For some people it could really be the difference between them liking it and hating it. Fortunately for me I love this game, but only cos I took them time to figure things out for myself. Believe me it's a serious prob, but with perseverance you'll figure it all out.
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 07/16/01, Updated 07/16/01
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