Review by Remora

"A well-designed, maddeningly addictive sim game"

I found Startopia at Sam's club for $8.99 and purchased it along with Rainbow Six: Covert Ops Essentials, and was rewarded by yet another spur-of the moment purchase, like how I lucked out on with Shogo.

CAMERA CONTROLS (7.5): Good and easy to use once you've practiced. (Hint: Hit CTRL first, then move the mouse.)

BUILDING SYSTEM (9): I like the things you can add to a room, like the chronometer and the plant. The click-and-drag system for some of the rooms is a bit irritating, but make a few and it's better. The Scuzzers and the advanced models are interesting.

RESEARCH (5.5): VERY irritating. Even with the tech-tree (right click on floor in the lab) you have to guess which building you want is where and what you need to get to it. Research also takes awhile and has no apparent progress meter.

COMBAT (9.5): While it's not RPG-level, it serves its purpose in the game magnificently, and is by far one of the most rewarding parts of the game (Hint: Drop the spy body in a recycler and reclaim some energy from him)

STORY (6.5): Nothing special. Just enough to keep the missions together.

CAMPAIGN (7.5): Decent difficulty. It's got a multitude of tasks in it as well, a definite plus.

MISC. FEATURES (8): I like the transporter, even though they stole the term ''pattern buffer'' and the sounds from Star Trek. The ability to manually remove litter is a good idea too. But my favorite feature is VAL. The English accent, the wit, it's all pretty appealing.

OVERALL GAMEPLAY/GRAPHICS (8.5): A good, solid engine with nice streamlining. I wouldn't know how well it runs on low grade systems (I have a vpr Matrix system with a bunch of added memory), but the graphics are good.

RACES/EMPLOYEE SYSTEM (8): ''Sweet'' is good enough to describe it, but I digress. The nine races all balance with each other, and that fact that more than one is combat-fit is relieving.

REPLAYABILITY (9): Good sandbox mode, something a lot of games lack. The campaign is also good to replay, just to be amazed at how easily you conquer it.

TRADING (6): Seems a little clunky to me. The fact that you can't 'minimize' the trade window to take care of, say, a bomb, is a bit irritating.

BUY-METER (9.5): Grab it if you find it. This thing will probably be the best game that nobody plays. Pray that it never hits the media at large, or you'll never find a copy, save for those on Ebay for untold dollars.


Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 07/11/02, Updated 07/11/02


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