Space Rangers 2: Dominators Review (PC)

The title may not be the most gripping out there but the gameplay is like a virus you wouldnít mind forgetting to let the doctor take a look at, let alone cure.† Beneath the cheesy, almost tongue-in-cheek appearance is a major contender ready to wrestle away your free time on this pitiful planet of ours.

Tool up your ship

Regard your fellows with envy or pity

After youíve watched the intro video I began to get a lurking feeling inside that perhaps this game isnít what Iíd thought it would be.† It seemed too clichť and that rang alarms bells but thankfully it may as well of been a fire drill because Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators is great!† Best of all it doesnít need a nuclear reactor fuelled PC to give a truly unique gaming experience.

Without going into too much detail, you are a fresh faced, green horned rookie.† An immediate beauty to this game is the freedom available to you, so the universe is in a bit of a pickle right now, well so what!† I want my cut of the intergalactic swag and no silly camel faced alien or deadly kill-bots are going to mess with my profits.† Yes you can follow the storyline is you wish, or just break away from all the politics and plights of the commoner and go into business trading or offering protection to the local systems trade routes.

There is a big emphasis on this freedom and whatís great isnít that it doesnít feel in anyway 'wrong' to just go about your own business and ignoring the plot.† Okay so how is such a game structured?† Well what a silly question because itís the old turn-based real-time strategy RPG trick!† In space your ship and all those around you only move when you move, you dictate the games progression through the turn-based mechanic which suits perfectly.† You can select a destination and a path is laid, depending on the length you are given a number indicating how many turns this will be.

There is no real-time battles in space, instead you can select specific weapons or all of them to target and fire at a ship, providing theyíre within range.† But this isnít just a land here and blast there affair, oh no, you can chat and trade with fellow star pilots.† Should you deem it fit you could even request payment for yourself for taking the time to talk to this person, if you catch my pirate extorting drift there.† But besides from flying about, talking, trading and extorting the occasional mark itís also about exploration.† Discovering a rich veined asteroid to blast and pillage has its juicy rewards, which in turn let you inflame that ego of yours and pump up your ships arsenal or technological gizmos.

A few monies to smooth relations over

Your characters destiny awaits

The real-time fun comes in for ground combat, which is done very well.† Each skirmish fought is with robots which the player builds, deciding on their weaponry etc.† You slap together your mechanical death squads from a base, where by you can commission defences and secure additional resources to be piped in your war chest.† Playing these ground assaults I couldnít help but think of an old game Future Cop L.A.P.D.† Enemy bases can either be destroyed or captured, so itís wise to size up the situation.† Capturing the base can give you more structures but will the enemy easily overrun you, and if so would it be better to just leave the area as scorched earth?

Okay so we have a turn-based space environment and a real-time robot smash-a-thon on the planets.† Now for the RPG gem atop this games crown.† When you first start naturally your nothing but a space whelp and the ranger leader board will clearly show you this.† After questing, trading and blasting away you soon rack up experience points.† You character has various skill pools which can greatly aid in your endeavours such as Accuracy, Trading, Charisma etc.† Having top notch skill in Accuracy for instance will guarantee by default youíll inflict the maximum damage a weapon can deal barring any other factors.† Even the playersí choice of employment can have an impact on your relations with the other races out there.† Obviously the career of a pirate can leave a bitter taste in the mouth for some worlds and your money maybe not good to them.

Graphically the space portion isnít bad and in truth itís not great either but it does sit well, with the animations around more than making up for it.† Each planet has its rotations and even with their satellites (moons) whizzing around.† Space isnít just empty space here, it teems with sparkly zoomie things.† Ground combat offers a great break up with great visuals for explosions and just general unit movements.† Plus with the added ability to jump into a custom built robot FPS Ė itís just dreamy.† The navigations, menus and character models are all first rate showing the commitment poured in.† The sounds were just a slight drop with some effects and noises feeling thrown, not weaved in.

As if Space Ranger 2 wasnít diverse enough, mini-games are even plaster all over the place.† These can help you to feel more connected with events and your character offering quirky side attractions but integrate into the core game.† Unfortunately the downfall is that they arenít exactly squeaky clean, but that aside you wouldnít want them taken out of this odd mixture of success.† I felt the AI here deserved high marks for its diversity in calculations and behaviour, traders, pirates, rangers, mercenaries etc.† Each has their characteristics and the computer can prove itself a cold hearted fiend once in a while, with pirates exploiting your bad luck often.† RTS moments can be quite predictable though.† This is no strategists dream but it pulls itself along with focus more on fast paced action than lengthy tactical plans.

Our favourite blue planet

Many a frontier left to explore

In truth I didnít exactly know what to expect from this in the beginning as trying to picture both a turn-based and real-time strategic role-playing game isnít something on my mind often Ė though it will be from now on for all the right reasons.† So stop snickering at the title, get out your wad of cash and invest it wisely in this bundle of galactic affairs.† Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators is a fantastic odd blend of gaming goodness!

Top Game Moment:
Refusing to pay pirate scum their blood money and going out in a blaze of glory.

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