Star Wolves 3: Ashes of Victory Preview (PC)

From 1C, the Russian publisher of the King’s Bounty and Il-2 series comes Star Wolves 3: Ashes of Victory. The standalone sequel to Star Wolves 3: Civil War released this past March, Ashes of Victory looks to continue the franchise’s strategy RPG tradition.

Think of it as an single-player EVE Online - open world space strategy heavy on the combat and trading
As fans have come to expect from the series, players take control of a mothership and its fleet once again crewed by a group of galactic mercenaries attempting to make a living for themselves. Inevitably your rag tag group of Han Solo stand-ins will be swept up in a wider interstellar conflict, possibly relating to the fallout of the civil war of the previous game.

Though some may describe the Star Wolves as a real-time strategy series it doesn’t fit the image most would associate with the genre. For one thing there isn’t any base building, resource management or unit creation. You control only your mothership and fleet, assigning orders though never directly controlling their every move. Actions are issued from a command menu with subsequent clicks of the mouse often required to assign destinations or targets. The result is a slower paced, highly automated experience with a strong emphasis on the micromanaging your ships’ actions and load-outs.

A welcome feature is the ability to manipulate the speed of the game. The pause function allows you to stop the action during more hectic encounters to issue your commands, whilst the ability to fast forward by two, four or eight times the normal speed is a godsend when you find yourself traversing huge areas of empty space.

One the highlights of the preview build we played were the visuals. It’s no secret that 1C and developer Elite Games are relatively small outfits but they continue to rise above this and provide some gorgeous backdrops to each sector of space. Combined with some solid ship and space station designs and models, Ashes of Victory is certainly looking the part.
The game's pleasing starscapes and solid ship design are a highlight -esecially on higher settings
Star Wolves’ universe continues to be a vast, fully three dimensional one populated with NPC traffic, space stations and planets. Though quests relating to the main story will take players down a linear path of missions in said universe, in between you’re free to do as you please. By heading off the beaten path you can find extra quests and partake in trading allowing you to earn additional experience and funds as well as explore more of the galaxy than you otherwise would.

While you primarily control your mothership you do need to create your main fighter pilot when starting a new campaign. Here, there are four classes to choose from. Pilot turns your focus to speed and agility, Gunner emphasises a variety of short-ranged weapons, Missiles specialises in long-range combat and finally Systems focuses on support and provide buffs for your fleet. Each has their own unique tech trees that can be levelled up the more experience your fighter gains.

Supporting this RPG style system is the ability to customise and improve your fleet. New weapons, equipment and ships can be purchased while docked at stations throughout the galaxy or acquired from quests. Though your starting fleet has just three pilots and fighters it looks like you’ll be able to have up to six of each as the game progresses. Judging from the calibre of the enemy encounters we initially experienced on the normal difficulty, you’re going to need to utilise these features to the fullest to become a long-lived mercenary.

One element the developers need to fix by the final build is the English script. While the text-heavy tutorial mode is suitably coherent to be able to teach players the basics, the rest of the translation is in such a state you’d swear it’d been hastily put through Babel Fish. Currently it’s a serious challenge to understand what the characters are talking about due to clumsy phrasing, grammatical oddities and out of place words marring almost every sentence. In many games this would sound like a minor gripe but since currently all of the Ashes of Victory’s exposition looks to be told entirely through character conversations it’s crucial that this translation is polished up by its release in English speaking territories.
Combat is a very automated affair - you don't have direct control over your fleet

From what we’ve played so far Ashes of Victory is notably similar to its predecessor Civil War. Game play, graphics and the majority of station and ship designs will be immediately familiar to players of the previous game. However, the sizeable voice cast listed in the credits of the voice-less build we played suggests that other elements are still to be implemented so there’s still a good chance the game will mix things up in the final version. Star Wolves 3: Ashes of Victory is set to launch on PC in the first quarter of 2011.

Most anticipated feature: The open galaxy inspired by the likes of Elite and Privateer is a big draw for space sim fans.

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By RaviL (SI Core Member) on Dec 24, 2010
Remind me of Freelancer.
By fltatk (SI Veteran Member) on Dec 24, 2010
Its not like Freelancer, though both of them are really good.
Star Wolves was really good game, but there was no exploring actually. Star Wolves 2 was to buggie to be played. And i still haven't been able to try out the Star Wolves 3. And now theres a sequel, nice. That means i have to give it a try :D
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Dec 25, 2010
If I recall correctly, the last one was.....unimmpressive wasn't it?
By Kres (SI Elite) on Dec 25, 2010
I like the sound of the first screenshot caption: "Think of it as an single-player EVE Online - open world space strategy heavy on the combat and trading". Sounds like something I'd love to play. Though no control over ships in the fleet? Doesn't matters actually.
By fltatk (SI Veteran Member) on Dec 25, 2010
Dont know, first and second game allowed control over own fleet...
By djole381 (SI Elite) on Dec 26, 2010
This game sucks, period.
By lichlord (SI Core) on Dec 28, 2010
the games are nice but a lot of bugs i hope they unlearned that problem

but interesting a "fleet"? as i recall you only had your main mothership with its fighters
By fltatk (SI Veteran Member) on Dec 28, 2010
This is fleet. One ship and fighters are as fleet as 2 motherships and fighters :)
By K3Spice (SI Core) on Dec 29, 2010
Sounds interesting I think I will try these games out. I think it the caption on the first screen shot that really got me interest lol.
By lichlord (SI Core) on Jan 02, 2011
By K3Spice (SI Core) on Jan 04, 2011
Just tried to last star wolves game out. Its OK. I don't like how you have to read A LOT though. It would be better if they hired some voice actors for it IMO.
By lichlord (SI Core) on Jan 05, 2011
@k3spice lol indeed but somethimes you gotta run on low budget and you can't get voice actors around ain't so bad they got more voices on star wolves 2 but thats all i don't mind reading i read already a lot not to mention playing morrowind time to time too
By SirRoderick (SI Elite) on Jan 05, 2011
I'd rather have no voice actors than have BAD voice actors. Fex things can ruin a game as quickly and thoroughly as bad voice acting!