by Sergio Brinkhuis
previewed on PC
We're not alone
Anyone who has got half a brain, realises that the chances of Earth being the only inhabited planet in the galaxy are slim to non-existent. For DarkStar One, Ascaron created six unique races. These races do not only have different looks and skills, they also have different views and ideas. This brings great variety to the game as behaviour, ship concepts and weapon types are completely different for each of the races.
This also means differences in how they fight. While humans go for the more basic laser and missile type weapons and ships that can serve multiple purposes, some of the other races prefer more specialised equipment. The insect-like Arrack for instance, fold space which enables them to 'jump' around in space. They can't do this over long distances but in battle, it makes them a pretty difficult to target and hit. Only the Thul may be more difficult to hit than the Arrack. The Thul have a cloaking ability and they will naturally use this technique whenever it is to their advantage. Their combat strategy is a hit and run type of affair where they will give you all they have got and then simply cloak and disappear. Frustrating, but challenging as well.
On the plus side, the Darkstar One can handle its own, or at least it should be able to after you outfit it with gear that suits your own strategy. When you inherit your ship it will be pretty basic but it is the first of its kind and highly advanced. What makes it special is that it is completely modular in design and can be upgraded to suit a number of needs. With no less than 200 modules consisting of weapons, armour and specialized equipment, you have a lot of control over what you would like your ship to become.
While the weapon upgrades are kind of obvious, some of the other available modules are much more interesting. Mines and fighting drones are designed to give you an edge in battle but you can also upgrade your computers to help with docking and targeting, add freight modules to increase the cargo capacity. You can also speed up your ship by installing the latest in propulsion technology. Of course, everything comes at a price. For instance, if you install freighter modules and heavy armor, the Darkstar One will respond more sluggishly. Not very good for a fighter role, so pick your upgrades carefully. The physics within the game will feel somewhat realistic, but not up to the point where the game becomes a flight sim.
It's been ages...
If you're not convinced yet by reading the above, I'll throw some other features into the mix for you. For one thing, you're not adventuring alone. You'll take on a crew and they become an integral part of the storyline. Some of the missions will not just have you fly from planet to planet but will also take you to the planets themselves, and even underground. Lastly, the Darkstar One can be equipped with alien technology that no one else has access to. This technology gives your ship special abilities that become stronger in time.
It has been ages since we've seen any new space action/shooters that actually have some substance. It looks like DarkStar One will take us back to the days of games like Privateer and the more recent Freelancer but with a much deeper storyline. If you are like me and felt that Freelancer was a great game but was lacking in the 'getting the player immersed in the game' department, chances are that DarkStar One will fulfill your every wish.