A new juicy looking 4X title which hopes to satiate your lusting galactic appetite.
Posted | 0 comments | By Simon Priest
A new juicy looking 4X title which hopes to satiate your lusting galactic appetite. Now for the benefit of those who have no clue what a 4 and a X has to do with anything, here’s the answer: eXplore, eXpand, eXpoit and eXterminate.
Choose research projects thoughtfully
An unexplored planet
Players will find themselves lacking in the empire department in the beginning, so exploring your surroundings is the first step. Once you’ve scouted the neighbouring planets you can then start to expand your civilization. As your reach increases you exploit more and more varied resources like money, production and research capabilities. Finally and arguably the best bit for some, comes the time to exterminate foreign empires.
Of course this makes the game sound so much easier and quicker than what it is. For those who adore this genre you know full well that games can run and run for a long time. It depends on the individuals speed or tactic they want to employ. Using pure brute force will mean you’ll probably have a quicker game while the art of diplomacy will drag it out.
Sword of the Stars looks the part of a very promising game. Upon firing it up the immediate thing to hit me was how clean and sleek the UI is. I don’t think I’ve seen many other games with such a fantastic and clean environment. The colour schemes and injection of cartoon-like art all compliment this amazingly outstanding feature. So after calming myself down from this perfectly sculpted menu system, I was actually able to start the game.
I plunged into the tutorial which is a great help in explaining the mechanics of the game. You start with one planet and you immediately see all the surrounding worlds. As you haven’t visited them yet though they appear as spinning balls of light, once an expedition shows up they are replaced with what the planet looks like. The games engine does a wonderful job in the galactic view. You can zoom in and out easily and rotate the galaxy however you wish. This is also a great help as larger galaxies can become quite overwhelming so a quick rotate can help keep things manageable.
Sword of the Stars is a blend of turn-based empire and fleet management with real-time space battles. Research therefore is completed once a certain number of turns have passed which is controlled by the player. Tell a few fleets where to go, perhaps also queuing up some ships to be built and then hit the end turn button. Watch as things bob about and maybe finish production and then it’s time to start plotting before you end another turn.
The Empires homeworld
Define your civilization
Battles in space require a more immediate tactical mind, everything keeps on rolling along which makes for better entertainment all round. Of course tactics can only take you so far before technology is the big obstacle. Developing new advancements is critical as so you can easily find yourself exploring the research projects available. When they begin to stack up the research screen can almost feel like the galaxy, where you can zoom in and out on specific areas to find out about them and rotate the view around you.
Designing new fleets is modular, meaning you can have many different kinds of combinations. If you select the ship to carry a tanker for its middle module for instance then it carries fuel for other ships but doesn’t have much in the way of armaments. To counter that you could attach a front module with heavier armour and a few more weapons. Designing a mega ship isn’t always the best route as they cost a lot, so perhaps fitting a deadly weapons module but going cheap on the front and engine could let you build a lot more and deliver victory.
Other planets can of course be colonized but some can’t if their hazard level is too high to be terraformed. Which is great as it makes the galaxy more realistic, and over time planets that can be populated have their environments manipulated slowly to better suit your race and increase industrial output.
The races themselves comprise of Humans, Tarkas, Hiver and the Liir. Each has their own unique qualities, the Hiver especially as they are an insect like race which reflects in their ship designs. So each offers a unique style of play and with the addition of a dynamic research tree (or web in this case) there must be days if not week’s worth of experimenting to be done. For those who think they have mastery over what things to develop and deliver the ultimate fleet/empire then having a tech tree that shifts each game will make you think again.
Tweak your galaxy
Design and build fleets your way
I’m usually not drawn to the 4X genre as I prefer a more constant flow to management than being afforded the luxury of turns. Sword of the Stars however may very well convince me to change …or grow, whatever the case maybe. I hope things keep going in the direction they are for this great looking game. Some day it may even be cool enough on the street to shriek out “you’ve been 4X’d fool” after you’ve successfully dissed some punk tryin' to play you. What? Stranger things have happened, right?
Top Game Moment:The UI, all bow before the mighty clean and fantastic-ness of the UI!