Starpoint Gemini 2, developed by Little Green Men Games and published by Iceberg Interactive, is an open-world, sci-fi RPG space sim. Starpoint Gemini 2 is game that has sprung up during the revival of the space simulation genre that was originally prominent during the 80’s and 90’s.
Starpoint Gemini 2 offers players the ability to command a ship and then fly off in to the depths of space to do whatever they want. You can privateer and take down the galaxy’s many undesirables. Or, if trading is more your thing, you can go from various planets and space stations, trading goods by buying low and selling high. Asteroid mining is also an option, as you can spend your time blowing up asteroids and harvesting their minerals to sell. The game gives you the freedom to amass fame and fortune in whatever way you see fit.
The game’s absolute freedom is its biggest and best feature. The explorable space in which you are given is vast and you may spend a good few hours of your time playing in only a portion of space. The freedom naturally adds longevity to the playtime, and it’s rare for you to ever run out of things to do. This becomes addictive, and you will struggle to save and quit once you find yourself immersed in being a spacefaring ship captain. You will constantly be telling yourself “just one more freelance job”, “just one more trade”, “just one more ship to pillage”, as the hours begin to fly by.
You are given the option of either playing the story, or ‘freemode’, which is essentially a sandbox mode with no overarching story or objective. The story itself is weak, with sub-par voice acting and simple objectives. In my opinion, the story is redundant when stood next to the sandbox mode, as an open world sandbox game like Starpoint Gemini 2 is tailored more towards a ‘freemode’ style of play. It feels as if the story is simply there for the sake of it, and to some extent, the developers seem to know it. Once you complete the prologue, you are given the option to either continue with the story, or ditch it and jump straight in to freemode. Despite the criticism to the story, this was a surprising and nice feature to implement.
Visually, the game is beautiful, with space feeling vast yet populated with objects. The various celestial bodies that litter space are detailed and always exciting to approach when you’re at a distance. The few close stars colorfully light up the galaxy, and space stations come in numerous shapes and sizes. The game’s performance is sometimes an issue, with severe drops in frame rate for no apparent reason, but maxed out the game is breathtaking.
The soundtrack is also on par with the game’s astounding visuals, and will definitely be something you notice while playing. From the relaxing tracks that play as you’re travelling from place to place, to the worrying battle music that plays when a hostile ship intercepts, the music fits perfectly and adds to the immersion and atmosphere of the game.
The developers really have achieved their goal of creating an atmospheric space setting, as the player can easily get lost in this immersive and detailed galaxy. The drawback is that space often feels lifeless, with the only human voice you hear being one of your ship’s crewmembers acknowledging your orders. Other ships buzz around space like lifeless drones, with no fleshed out interactions available. Planets and space stations are masses that you park your ship near and act as vendors, as there’s no docking animations or NPC’s to directly converse with.
Space combat will be an inevitable part of your experience playing Starpoint Gemini 2. Even if you choose to spend most of your time trading, mining, or exploring, you will still find yourself in combat situations where your skills as a commander will be put to the test. You have the option to outfit your ship – or ships – with a handful of different, yet standard sci-fi weapon types. From beams to railguns, you will have to equp your ship with weapons, abilities and enhancements if you want to defend yourself in the dark corners of space.
There are a number of stylish features that entail Starpoint Gemini 2‘s combat mechanics, such as the ability to send men to board enemy ships in order to try and overpower the crew and claim the ship for yourself. You can then tow the incapacitated ship back to a planet or space station to either sell or claim as your own, amassing huge amounts of credits to spend on new ships, upgrades, or crew members.
Privateering is also another option, either freelancing or aiding a particular faction. You can track down enemy ships or bounty hunt notorious pirates, each resulting in rewards and looting of precious cargo. The faction system is very rudimentary and there’s no real depth in diplomatic relations, and freelance privateering can become understandably repetitive as missions often consist of “go here; kill this”.
The controls in Starpoint Gemini 2 are going to be confusing to anyone starting, as is the case with almost any space sim game. You have the option to play with a combination of keyboard, mouse, controller and joystick. A joystick and keyboard setup is ideal and fairly standard for games like this, with the mouse being a substitute and the controller being almost useless as it requires two hands, and you’re going to need a hand free for the keyboard as there just aren’t enough buttons on a controller to accommodate all of the useful key bindings.
You’re going to want to memorize a lot of the keys, such as target lock, the nifty tactical overview that shows how your shields are coping, the throttle, the adjust to plane key. and many others. Pressing one of these keys is essentially you as captain giving an order to your crewmembers, and a bit of imagination is required if you fancy yourself as a Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Setting destinations on the star-map and letting your crew take over at the press of a button is fun, as you can sit back and enjoy the beauty of space. Or, take manual control of the ships controls and weapon systems and become a one man army.
Starpoint Gemini 2 is an addictive game that will have you playing in various ways for hours upon hours. If you enjoy the occasional space sim, or love the genre immensely, then Starpoint Gemini 2 is definitely one to consider playing. There is an active modding community, which sweetens the deal even more. The controls can be daunting, but it is part of the package, and tutorials aren’t particularly helpful either. You may have to discover a lot of features through experimentation. However, in an open-world sandbox game, this is barely even a problem, and you’ll soon find yourself a competent space captain.
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