Starpoint Gemini 2 is the space simulator with an endless universe of possibilities.
Starpoint Gemini 2 is your chance to command a space craft in Gemini, a region of a huge and open universe. It is developed by the Croatia-based Little Green Men Games developer’s studio, and published by Iceberg Interactive. It is a sequel to Starpoint Gemini, in which you’re a freelancer, taking on jobs to get by. These jobs ask you to ally with and rally against the many factions that struggle for power in Gemini. Despite the game still being in its beta phase, I feel like the entire universe is at my fingertips, waiting to be explored.
The freelance missions that are already available are wonderfully varied – from battle to gathering. And just travelling between each location is a thing to behold. The space world may be large, but it is far from empty. Asteroids, ships and space stations are littered amongst the stars, and there is almost always something which may peak your interest and be worth taking a look at. At the time I am writing this preview, I’m only able to play in freelance mode which means that there is no story, but exploring this universe could occupy hours of my time already. The lack of direction or tuition is slightly off-putting, although it is obviously still in beta and is clearly incomplete. At its current stage, the game is not very beginner-friendly and requires some intuition and fiddling with until you understand the logistics of what to do, but once this is achieved, you’re flying. Literally.
You begin in a premade ship, which you can later sell and acquire a bigger, better ship. You don’t even have to get rid of your old ships – just park them up at the garage, where you can keep all of the ships you own! This is a singularly unique aspect of the game which really stands out.
The RPG element adds a lot to Starpoint Gemini 2, with an ecosystem of tradable goods and things to buy and sell on space stations, as well as a reputation system with the factions. Searching for the best price for goods can take an age in itself, as different stations will offer you a different price. The development team intend to improve on this further by including random events which can alter the prices of certain goods at any given time, either globally, regionally or on a faction basis. Your own actions can have an effect on prices – for example, knocking out a number of gas collectors in a region impacts the price of gas in that area. It will add a fantastic and deep element to the game, knowing that your actions will have consequences. I’m very excited for this update.
Leisurely exploration is punctured with tactical battles and the fact that you are a commander responsible for this ship and its crew. You can earn money by mining ore from the asteroids drifting in belts across the starry landscape, or engage in combat and piracy to earn your pay, capturing enemy ships for your own. You can transport passengers for rewards, or embark on patrol and rescue missions. Missions such as these are being improved as I type, and as exciting and engaging as they are now, they will be even better in final development. However your playstyle, there’s room for you in the Gemini space system.
You can also tailor your Captain (that is, you) to your individual playstyle, whether you’re a Commander, featuring combat buffs for your fleets and defensive systems, or a Gunner who can specialise in the offensive. Otherwise, there’s the Engineer, who has several skills such as the ability to slow nimble enemies. The game is already very replayable due to the highly varied playstyles of each style of Captain.
Your ship is also highly customisable. Every 5 levels, you are awarded perk points which can be spent on upgrades for your space craft. Whether you want a speedy gunboat, a lumbering freight-liner laden with goods to sell or a destroyer to send into battle, the choice is very much up to you. Whilst docked at a space station, you can reset and change the perk-points you have spent, altering your ship for whatever suits you. The developers have promised that very soon you’ll be able to customise the actual appearance of your ships, including colours and banners. I see a new TV Show on the horizon – Pimp my Space-ride!
The user interface is something of a hit-and-miss amongst Starpoint Gemini 2’s fans. Whereas I enjoy the bold, brash UI and find it much more accessible than some more complicated space-sim interfaces, it has been accused of appearing arcade-like. As a newbie to the world of the space game, I find this UI much more user-friendly, although it may be frustrating for any space veterans out there.
In fact, the development team are excellent at keeping in touch with their community base and updating their game accordingly. Some of their own internal deadlines regarding the game have been delayed because they’ve been catering to the suggestions of the games steadily growing fanbase. This really shows as the game updates and improves, and I believe that it will benefit strongly from this relationship.
Visually, Starpoint Gemini 2 is stunning. The graphics are beautiful, and I found myself stopping to admire the busy stretches of stars, space craft and stellar phenomena all around myself and my ship. The graphics also run well on most lightweight systems, so no PC should have any issues loading them to their full capacity.
As for sounds, you really get the feeling that you are traversing through open space. The voices of the crew and the voice-overs are well played, and are still very much in development, so will only get better.
SPG2 is a fantastic space sim/RPG, especially considering that it’s still in beta. There’s enough to it to already get your teeth into and make for a thoroughly enjoyable game, whether you’re new to the genre, or a hard-core space gamer. I can’t wait to see what the developers do with it!