by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Patience required (a lot of)
Mining resources takes time, building new ships takes time and moving them around the map takes more time than many players are likely to be willing to invest. I often found myself fiddling with my phone waiting for sufficient resources to become available to build a new station or large ship, losing any feeling of immersion. A similar ‘disconnect’ with the game happened every time I moved over the icon to open the ship building menu: it resembles nothing so much as wiggling dick.
While hyper-jumps are fairly painless, maneuvering your fleet in battle is slow as *beep*. Smaller ships will arrive first to the fray which makes attacking a heavily fortified location a real chore. Timing a simultaneous arrival of your ships is almost impossible as the game is lacking an option to match speed among your entire fleet. So chances are that your smaller ships are shot to hell at the front line while your larger ships are still lounging in the back.
And while I can forgive a wiggling dick (I double checked with less dirty minded people to confirm that that was what it looked like), I simply cannot do the same for the interface’s frustrating behavior. The game insists on closing the building menu every time you have given an order. This is further acerbated by the fact that finding and clicking on a space station is a real chore and, even worse, that the self-destruct button for the space station that you are building from is right above the build menu and has – no – ‘are you sure’ warning. I can’t even begin to count the number of times I blew up my space station. The list of frustrations goes on with the research station trying to hide additional options, confusing feedback when selecting individual units (a circle hovering well above the ship in question), having to use the keyboard to move around the map when zoomed in and more.
The game also does a poor job explaining some of its basic features. For instance, large ships usually don’t blow up when you batter them with beams and missiles. Instead, they become ‘disabled’ and float around in space indefinitely, showing up on your map as unmoving enemy vessels. Later in the game you find out that a bit of research allows you to board those ships, which is fun, but I would rather not have spent so much time trying to figure out what to do with them.
No Gem In This War
My frustration with the game reached new heights when I installed the patch and consequentially lost the save game of a mission that I had been playing for almost an hour. It stung greatly having struggled not only with the interface but also with numerous failed assaults on an enemy position and – finally having conquered it – seeing my investment go to waste as the newly patched game did not allow me to continue.
Developed by just three guys, Gemini Wars could be called a technical marvel. It has a very capable graphics engine, features many a line of in-game narrative and introduces fresh concepts to a genre that has seen very little innovation over the last decade or so. Yet the sum of its parts do not add up to a great game, for that, the interface just gets in the way too much.
Choke points in space may not be realistic but they lead to fun and challenging situations.
Please, don’t make me interact with this game again.