Gemini Wars Preview (PC)

After the disappointment that was last year’s Sword of the Stars II, the space-strategy niche is in dire need of some quality new blood. At the moment, the only real offering is Kalypso’s Legends of Pegasus, but Indie up-and-comer Camel101 may just provide some stiff competition in Gemini Wars. Set in a simple and self-explanatory sci-fi world, this interesting little title draws on inspiration from Sins of a Solar Empire, Homeworld, and even Red Alert. Regardless of its DNA and its ambition, considering we’re essentially talking about a three-man studio, what we’ve seen so far is extremely impressive.

Using a modified version of the Unity 3D engine (with help from Crytek themselves, doncha know), Camel have really managed to bring their universe to life, better than a lot of other people, actually. The game has 16 single-player missions in the campaign, and sees you take control of a single prominent figure in one side of a war between two human factions in the Gemini sector. Ripe for colonisation, this sector is highly sort after, so it’s not surprising these two powers are bumping heads to try and settle the area… but all is not as it seems. Cue ominous music, moving on.

Colonies take different forms depending on where you build them, like this Gas Giant...

In terms of scale, Gemini Wars is actually quite small – the majority of the action takes place in single star systems, with a sun in the distance and the map filled with static objects such as asteroid fields, natural barriers like plasma fields etc… and the actual planets where the colonies are built. We say ‘small’, it’s all a matter of perspective – the systems themselves are actually pretty big, as within a system travel is performed by ‘micro’ jumping from one key spot to another. We mean though compared to other offerings in the genre, it’s pretty focused. In the later missions with more systems, you need to construct stargates to move between them. Think of the tactical mode in Sword of the Stars II, just that it looks a lot better, although aesthetically it’s actually a lot like Sins of a Solar Empire in looks. But that fact that you can draw so many comparisons is not a detriment to the game at all – in fact it’s a great thing.

You can tell a lot of passion and enthusiasm has gone into making Gemini Wars though – the ships, whilst nothing special in terms of design (standard blocky modular design that sci-fi tells us humans are going to be famous for in the future), they’re modelled quite well, and the large ships even have hit points a la Empire at War. There doesn’t appear to be that much ‘strategy’ in this space-strategy game, but the natural layout of systems to provide opportunities for flanking, ambushes etc…, and we’re told simply building up a large fleet and going a-compstomping isn’t’ recommended as the AI will just sneak in behind you and attack your bases – resources are key in this game (as that’s kind of why you’re fighting in the first place), so taking rich mineral fields and holding them to fuel your war effort will probably take up a lot of your focus.

See what I mean? Very SINS-esque, although I’m not sure who has the better ship design right now

The most interesting thing about this game is not necessarily the game itself, but the various facets of its genesis – for starters, Camel have been really open with the community about letting them influence the game and its features, and if you go on the forums even now you can see how much influence fans have had over the game. In addition to that, Camel actually come from a background in helping make social games for Facebook, with Gemini Wars being their first ‘hardcore’ game and a game that’s been in the works for two years now – their experience on the casual game circuit taught them the benefits of actually listening to the players, good QA practices, as well as business and communications. Guess social gaming isn’t so useless after all.

At the time of writing, Camel101’s plan is just to release the single-player campaign. Multiplayer and an offline skirmish mode are going to be provided as free DLC post launch. When I spoke to them, the guy’s were talking about how multiplayer especially wasn’t quite working out how they would like it, so they’d rather get the single-player out to introduce people to the game and the universe whilst they spend some dedicated time working on these other features. The group has big ideas for this universe, but big ideas start out small, so we’ll need to wait and see how this one turns out. Gemini Wars is due out on May 25th 2012 for PC.

Most Anticipated Feature: Since this wasn’t a hands-on session, we’re looking forward to simply testing out the game.

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By Kres (SI Elite) on Apr 12, 2012
Anything that is in space and has Strategy word next to it, has my fullest attention! Going to note this one for future reference. Q4, okay.
By nocutius (SI Elite) on Apr 12, 2012
Same here, when it comes to space strategy I start paying attention.
By V4ndall (SI Veteran Member) on Apr 12, 2012
Same. Will see it when it gets there.
By Gyorn (SI Core) on Apr 12, 2012
Nice...first time ive heard of it but i will give it a try for sure. There indeed is dire need of fresh blood for the genre :/

Btw...whats up with the release? Short info on the left says Q4, second to last last sentence of the text says May 25th.
By JustCommunication (SI Core) on May 27, 2012
The release date is in June now, actually :S guess the database hasn't been updated.