Review by spiceworm
"Starpoint Gemini - WHY SO MANY BUGS!!!"
I picked this game out of a random offer bin in my local gaming shop back in 2013. After staring at the back of the box for a good while and thinking over whether or not I should buy it, I went with my gut and purchased Starpoint Gemini. Mostly my reasons for the purchase were more to do with an older game that is no longer supported on windows, Star Trek: Starfleet Command 3. I thought that the gameplay on the box looked similar and that it might be a good substitute, so began my play through.
Coming from LGM (Little Green Men) a small company based in Croatia, this was their first independent game and boy does it show. While in a very similar vein to most open' space sim games, the idea with Starpoint was to give the player a new and innovative experience. I'm saddened to say that as you read this review I cannot help but be brutal about this title. So with the setup established, let the massacre begin!
The Gameplay Of Infinite Bugs!
Well, depending upon the choice of the game mode that the player chooses depends on what gaming value you get back. For the main mode with the plot, bells and whistles the gameplay isn't that great at all. In fact it is something of a multi-car pile up on the busiest route through the centre of a heavy metropolis. From the outset, yes outset, the player is hammered with more bugs than the biggest fly swatter could ever handle. The player control commands, while simple are blunted by an input recognition system that leaves much to be desired and made my poor finger hurt from all the key jabbing. The plot is pretty simple and nothing too taxing for the player happens with the old gamer intuition mostly being on point. Take a small and battered ship and crew and evolve fight infinite stereotypes and try your damnedest not to give yourself or your PC a black eye from the frustration and face palming. Then there is the free play mode also which is pretty much like a stripper that walks in wearing an overcoat, waves and then leaves. There are no missions, no goals and most of the minor missions bug or can't be completed for what ever random reason the game engine decides. The trading gets dull and repetitive with very little really going on in a frankly massive (for the time) universe. I did like the number of ships that the player had access to and the number of ship upgrades was pretty good too. I did think that the main 'story' mode was irritating as several times you got a ship just so, only to have it destroyed during a mission and being left to start over again. For me there was also the fact that during a mission the player could not save and then there was the bug that you could end up with a ship that was missing a vital part but somehow bugged into existence. That left the player in the middle of a mission with one of the crew on an enemy infested star base. Only to realise that you have no transporter system and an agent surrounded by really angry soldiers. The audio was also shocking. Sometimes the player would go from quiet space faring to having their eardrums torn apart by a mass of distortions that no matter the volumes or patches' would always come back like a smelly fart you thought was long gone. Lastly for my picks although I have many, many more. Was the grinding travel from system to objective, I know that if it wasn't for the T-Drive' I would have ended up asleep several times while playing into the early hours.
Physics That Would Make Einstein Blush!
The physics for Starpoint are just plain Wha!?' at times. I know enough basic physics to know that space is an environment that allows for flight' in any direction. However, Starpoint tells me that ships can only go from left to right and forwards and backwards if you go in a really big circle. This makes combat between ships horribly dull, as it reduced most tactics to flying in large oblongs and shooting occasionally. Some of the astral bodies such as asteroids and debris would go off in a random direction too often. Or worse not move in any way shape or form not even if collided with and believe me I tried hard on that front! The player ship movements were at times far jerky and due to random frame drops. The ship detection when trying to dock was an issue for me several times, as I nearly rammed the side of stations or shipyards while on autopilot! Loot crates and collectable debris was also an issue, as the poor camera bugged or plain freaked out if the item that you had locked onto was above or below your ship. I could go on and on that is the really sad thing but I shall stop on this point and move on.
It's So Pretty But Repetitive?
The graphics are one of the more redeeming things about this game. I could in some sectors simple cruse around looking at all of the pretty while in other sectors I just wanted to hop out as soon as my ship could. It was also damned annoying that as you progressed through the game some sectors and regions looked awfully familiar like I'd walked into the middle of a suspicious war with loads of clones wandering around. Still on the parts that weren't samey the way that things looked was really good and not too taxing to the average PC. The ship models looked great with some really well rendered panels and detailing and some pretty good motions drawn in too. I liked the engine exhaust streams from the ships that grew or shrank with speed this little feature worked well for the details side of the game. The weapons animations could have been a little more prolonged and could have had more work placed into them but they got the job done. Random objects looked awesome with the planets, shipyards, space stations and other NPC vessels being crisp and clear even at distance.
Hey, A.I I'm Over Here!
The A.I with this one was very hit and miss and that was meant with no pun intended. The A.I was too loose and never really gave me that much of a challenge in all honesty and that's not me blowing my own trumpet. At times the player could just straight up pilot up to point blank on an enemy ship and light it up with nothing coming from the CPU. Then with ships that look as easy as anything the player gets their face rearranged free of charge. Presenting a hard and fraught battle that the player could only just about survive, if they are lucky. I found also that the A.I would forget what was being done and/ or returning to the standard CPU activities. Enemy ships would literally pilot away from the conflict and then x amount of minutes or even hours later would randomly attack you when your ships shield and defences were down causing some incidents with brown lumps in your undies. Then there are the ever present bugs that make some mission trigger ships vanish and others get swapped for something completely wrong. Like a station getting swapped for a small cruiser class ship with all the same defences for a star base and not being able to complete a mission due to this. Far too many bugs in ever possible way.
My Final Thoughts?
At times I wish that I could go back to that game shop and return this title and demand that it got sent back to the developers and finished. This game always felt unfinished and missing of content and features almost like it was released at the halfway point. This I found lazy and dull and by the end of this title I felt very disappointed as I know what this could have been and it would have been a lot better than it is now. A real shame for me and the main reason that I would not want to play it again.
Leonardo A.K.A Spiceworm
Reviewer's Rating: 1.5 - Bad
Originally Posted: 01/06/17
Game Release: Starpoint Gemini (EU, 03/25/11)
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