There is a certain charm to a game that lets you swagger around the galaxy, moving freely between planets and space stations while a massive space war rages on around you. Starpoint Gemini 2 makes you feel like a much wealthier Han Solo, and with a much larger ship and a much larger crew (if you so choose).
Starpoint Gemini 2 is still in early beta. There are a lot of features the developers will be adding, which aren’t there quite yet—the most prominent being the single-player story modes (yes, they’re talking about several including one where you play as a space pirate) and the ability to hire entire fleets of mercenary captains. They’ll also be adding voice acting.
Even in its current release, however, Starpoint Gemini 2 has plenty to offer. Since there’s no campaign mode yet, it plays more like Skyrim in space. You can take up quests, smuggle goods, or get into fights with other ships. Maybe you’d like to get involved in the wars glittering around the stars, or maybe you just want to be a space jerk who ambushes ships and takes their stuff.
Wandering around the galaxy is pretty fun in Starpoint Gemini 2. It gives players plenty of incentive to explore, and battles with other ships aren’t just hollow encounters.
In terms of the game’s galaxy, first of all it’s huge, and second of all it isn’t just a collection of isolated areas you need to warp between. You can fly from one edge to the other if you wanted without needing to warp, and everything you see from asteroid mining platforms to starbases.
Those aren’t just planets painted in the backdrop, either. You can visit them. In fact you may try to visit, find you’re not allowed to visit, and then smuggle yourself onto the planet instead, because right now you’re basically a space mercenary and by George that’s just what space mercenaries do.
Enter an asteroid field and you’ll need to navigate through it. If you want some cash, you can even blow up some of those asteroids then travel to the nearest planet to sell your new space rocks.
Of course, there are also wormholes and riftways that let you fast-travel around if you’d rather speed things up.
In terms of encounters, all the ships you run into are part of a faction. There are states, space corporations, and outlaws—all of whom seem to be fighting someone in one way or another.
There are friendly factions, there are hostile factions, and there are neutral factions. In fact there are 50 factions, and you’ll be traveling between their territories and getting on the good sides and bad sides of all of them.
Now, on the note of encounters, some of these are not specifically targeted at you. You will often come across other ships doing battle and you can choose whether to intervene, or just sit back and watch.
You also get to choose your own impact on the galaxy. You can remain a stealthy figure pulling jobs in the background, or you can mount your own forces and start making some changes.
Your actions also make a difference, and the random missions will generate depending on your actions and who you choose to align yourself with.
There are also plenty of options to customize your ships. Aside from there being more than 50 ships to buy and sell, you can also customize this ships according to your play style, and the parts you add will visibly appear on the ship.
You can also hire officers to man different parts of your ship—whether it be someone to sit on a gun turret, or someone to work in navigation.
In terms of graphics, Starpoint Gemini 2 is a beautiful game. It’s also processor heavy in its current state. Many of the options to adjust the graphics appear in the options but are not yet available. Users with older rigs may want to wait a bit until these options become available.
The interface looks great, and the game is pretty easy to pick up and get into without having to trudge through a manual or a long tutorial. It includes icons for some of your different weapons, and some basic info on your ship’s shields, armor, and speed. But it doesn’t overdo it by over-complicating things.
As for sound, there are nice booms and blasts that make the weapons feel powerful. The sounds seem like they fit, but we still haven’t heard the voice acting (since it’s coming in a later release) so stay tuned.
And in terms of control, this really varies according to your ship. The starting ship is a bit slow, and doesn’t have the best maneuverability. This changes, however, as you upgrade to better ships, so don’t lose your patience too early.
We also don’t know how the fleet commander system works yet, since you can’t hire other ships to join your fleet just yet.
All in all, Starpoint Gemini 2 is a great game that will hopefully only get better. We’ll still need to see how the voice acting and fleet management features are, but given that the first Starpoint Gemini was closer to an RTS, and had fairly good voice acting, I don’t think we have anything to worry about.
Starpoint Gemini 2 is available on Steam Early Access for $24.99.