A few months ago I was pretty worried that one of my favourite genres, Space Games, were gone for good. In the time since then however, the gaming world has been treated to a glut of new material set in the Final Frontier and I, for one, couldn’t be happier about that.
Now the good folks over at Special Circumstances are hoping folks like you will help crowdfund them into the field with their latest effort, Shallow Space: Insurgency.
As part of their push on the Indiegogo platform they’ve released an Alpha Demo you can try out here and I’ve spent the last few days getting to grips with what promises to be one of the most in depth Sci-Fi RTSs we’ve seen since Homeworld was first released.
So what’s the game like?
On the surface there’s alot to like here, it’s undeniably a graphically good looking game with some solid ship design and good animations. There’s also a frankly silly amount of vessels able to be on screen at the same time and this is the first RTS game I’ve seen where, even in the demo, zooming out from the battle treats you to scenes reminiscent of one of EVE Online’s epic inter-clan showdowns. Explosions are viscerally bright and the engine holds up well even when swarms of missiles join the fray amongst the weaving ships.
Insurgency is very much focused around this macro viewpoint, with a control system geared towards the command of multiple large fleets (or ‘Flotillas’) at the expense of responsive controls at the smaller, micro level.
Unfortunately this means that alot of the impetus is lost in the somewhat clunky control scheme. Movement controls are a particular bug bear as the traditional click unit, right click to move, control scheme of normal RTS games is replaced by a much more fiddly scheme that on a single move may involve both mouse buttons and your scroll wheel. When you pause the game (a welcome feature) and look at the grand scheme the controls become more manageable but doing that really took me out of the game’s world. The problems extend to the camera controls to which stick more rigidly to fixed axes (up + down, left and right) then the more free flowing viewpoints offered in games like Homeworld.
It may sound a little harsh but when you are focussed on this absolute upper level of fleets and worlds like this then you’ve essentially taken the player, who’s used to being Han Solo or Luke Skywalker in the mix of battle, and turned him into one of those guys in old WW2 movies pushing coloured blocks across a map.
Now in fairness the game is still in an Alpha build, so everything in the demo is subject to change. So while I didn’t get alot of enjoyment from it, that doesn’t mean that Shallow Space: Insurgency isn’t more then worth keeping an eye on.
Of course, maybe you like your RTS at the Admiral Akbar level in which case I recomend you check out their IndieGoGo page and then tell me how wrong I am in the comments below!
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