Strategy games, be it RTS or Turn Based have had a weak few years, with even less of them being based in space. In fact the last game that I whittled away a weekend with was Sins of a Solar Empire, and of course some developer comes along and wants to waste more of my time by adding more depth, this past weekend I haven’t seen much of anything. I was ill, and had StarDrive, let’s just say that I didn’t realise where my weekend went.
To start your game you need to pick your empire, you can choose from a set of pre-sets, and by that I mean choose space bears, then you can pick there traits, both negative and positive ones, negative traits add points to be spent on positive traits, and then you’re ready to embark to conquer the galaxy as space bears.
The basics of StarDrive is a simple, you have a home planet, take over other planets in your solar system and then take over other solar systems. It’s a simple premise that works for many other games, and at first I expected a copy of Sins, but a small difference was how you deal with your planets. Your planets are laid out as a 7×7 grid, showing you building spaces and where you can place your buildings. Changing how your planet grows is an important decisions, of course when you get a handful of planets, it starts getting more and more difficult to look after each but thankfully you can choose for the planet to look after itself and you can choose how you want it to grow, be it a core planet or more general planet, or focused on military, research and agricultural. These will play a big part on how you build your empire of course, without a balance of each you will lose out in areas, be it not being able to progress up the tech tree fast enough, or not having enough to feed your populous, but the computer does a good job of looking after them for you. All your resources will take 1 turn to be used or gathered and 1 turn is 5 in game seconds, which makes this game some sort of RTS/Turn based hybrid but plays out like an RTS. You can also build more colonising ships to get more planets, or freighters to deliver food or move population to each of your planets to help underdeveloped planets along.
Once you get into building a military you have even more choices to make, the first is a very extensive ship builder. Don’t like the current ships? Well build it just how you like. Want a fleet of nuke launchers? Well go ahead, you can pretty much build them to your personal liking and play style, it adds a great deal of depth, as if you have some ships running away, and you put some rear firing cannons you will be in a slight advantage if you can keep ahead. This is helped by each weapon having a firing cone displayed to let you customise how they will be firing. Want a battleship style with cannons firing broadside? Well go ahead, and run it though the middle firing at everything,. Thankfully the customisation is quite simple, but I think some work could be done on it to make it a bit easier, personally I would go for enlarging the ships a little more so each of the little symbols dictating what can be placed where are easily seen. To unlock new ships or technologies to place on your ships you need to venture into the quite large research trees to unlock new ships, land units and everything in between, research should be where most players aim for from the get go to get better units or technologies to place onto the ships to gain the upper hand for more aggressive players, or even to armour up the ships to create flying tanks for more defensive players.
Once you have all this sorted then you can start to defend and attack other players and slowly start to take over the galaxy. The game does have many tutorials found in-game to go over each of the different aspects, as it is quite in depth and for some players this can be off putting as it is a daunting task, but StarDrive does a good job of being intuitive enough to watch a couple of the tutorial videos for older players of the genre and then jump into the action, and for brand new players, the videos allow anyone to pick up the game quite easily. However, it is a little disappointing to see a lack of tool tips in game, or some more hints as sometimes I found myself a little lost, but it isn’t a necessity as the game plays well without it. This is a great little RTS that with a few friends can easily end up with a play through going into the AM without realising it, and let’s be honest, this game has Space bears, if you need more than that, then you really need to re-evaluate what you really want from a game.
You can pre-order Stardrive Here
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.