Space Force - Rogue Universe Review (PC)

Space, it’s big and mostly black – Provox Games delivers a very attractive version of our final frontier in Spaceforce: Rogue Universe, with an abundance of shiny things we can collect or make go ‘boom’.

Given as the nature of space is, well, lots and lots of space – the visuals for many systems are incredible, especially if you’ve got the hardware to back it up. The full variety of planets, nebulae, wrecks and other phenomenon are wonderful to experience and remind us trekking through the endless star can be a great scenic journey too.

I can see my house from here!
Even the system jump map is beautiful

The game is effectively split in two, with the single player campaign guiding the player through a set story to avenge the wrongs thrust upon you – here don’t expect to see much in the way of that same creativity behind the plot as behind the art. I couldn’t fine myself motivated to care much for the character at all, but that’s why it’s a saving grace that you can just make up your own adventure in a free-form sandbox-like mode. You can then select what race you want to be apart of, what class you’d like and just go live it up in one of the largest space games out there.

The one problem with all this space and “freedom” is the quests, as generally speaking it would take a huge team to generate enough unique missions to fill a whole galaxy. So while you can expect repeating quests, just disguised slightly differently each time, they do offer a variety with the expected kill this guy, blow that up etc. Spaceforce boasts over hundreds and hundreds of side quests so if you’re a ‘completionist’ gamer you can expect to be busy for quite some time.

Before I go into the ships you can get, and believe me there are a few, there’s a strange thing to Spaceforce – saving. It’s unfortunately not strange in the good way, instead of selecting to save in a slot and then load from said slots, you simply ‘store’ to your profile. A dangerous prospect if you think to go fiddling about with settings that relate as you could lose everything which I myself have been the victim of …three times.

Also in a game with staggering amounts to explore and to blow up or interact with there is an understandable amount of key mappings. While not being anywhere near the staggering maze of say an X universe game, Spaceforce makes things much harder for itself by NOT including a tutorial. Yes that’s right, NO tutorial – to say I was stunned when I realised I’ve just been chucked into space would be an understatement, especially when you need to take on two pirate craft straight off. Hopping from the game to the control menu in the options is a real pain too as the game fades to the menu and slows down the rate you can reference to vital keys, some miss-judged design concepts here.

The crafty AI will use the light to block your vision
Travel 2km, or just jump …hmm?

The ships themselves come in all shapes and sizes depending on the civilization it calls home, you go from very Earth-like ships to down right alien. You can also upgrade them to your style at a space station but only to a point so be careful what you decide to improve. Another little upgrade quirk to Spaceforce is the ability to craft upgrade slots, by collecting raw materials you can whip up some nice little mini-upgrades affecting all manner of ship systems. These range from +1 to +10 and can be simply plopped onto the ship with ease and removed when ever you like.

Weapons and other gizmos will be useable according to the ships tech levels, so some death beam cannon maybe a weapon class of 80 but your ship can only handle 70. You’ll need to earn some hard cash for all these luxuries though and to pay for ship maintenance which does seem rather steep at 2000 a time. Luckily the ton of missions and mining you can do in systems can help keep you in the clear, if only barely.

Combat itself is very challenging on medium and still razor sharp on easy so Spaceforce has little room for greenhorns. The lack of tutorial doesn’t help and the lack of a joystick to take advantage of space makes things less fluid and enjoyable, get a joystick! Any fan of space games like these know the general dog fight that will ensue, and they can be real long slugfests in this Rogue Universe. When you’ve spent your last missile you can expect the thrill of combat to wear pretty soon as you have to whittle down their shields, and then finally their hull. It can get tiresome.

Sound is a mixed bag but generally a disappointment when compared with the majesty of the visuals. Plus it’s difficult to tell who is addressing your ship and that’s even if they’re addressing you. Radio chatter gets barked out but doesn’t tend to stay consistent or logical, some variety of music though perks thing up a little but in no way is audio a strong point to Spaceforce – voiceovers and dialogue are no exception.

There’s a near bottomless-bucket load to choose from when it comes to trading in the game, bounties and all manner of goods be they legal or otherwise. You can tap into news ‘broadcasts’ every once in a while to find out when things will sell better too if you’re into the economy that way. Plus to help you get from system to system you can use a nice jump ability for your craft which will let you warp to either the current system gate or main station depending on your choice. It does take time to recharge but at least you can opt to ‘skip’ parts of space.

Who could forget the silly so-and-so’s who let bits of a cloak and time device around the galaxy? Yes as that extra little incentive to “boldly go where no other” …well you know the rest, anyway hidden through out the galaxy are pieces to these two separate devices. The time device will slow down the galaxy which I’m sure you could agree is rather impressive but don’t get dreams of lording it through time (see what I did there?) The cloak device will obviously allow you to cloak your ship, helpful for those less liberal of star systems, you know the ones - yeah them.

I dread to think what the Galactic stock-market looks like
Choose upgrades wisely, or face buying a whole new ship

Spaceforce: Rogue Universe offers immense depth to star systems and with plenty of hidden recesses to explore and probe, yes I said probe. The nice and large array of civilizations helps really bring the galaxy more life and help keep things fresh. While it’s no saint and often harsh and unforgiving through combat, a daunting learning curve for ‘n00bs’ to the genre, it’s a deep and rich galaxy that needs just a little patch polish for that extra sheen.

Top Game Moment:
Finding my first uncharted system was pretty weird, eerily quiet and spooky – plenty of mining prospects though, always look for the silvering lining.