by Ingvi Snædal
previewed on PC
Have it your way
It’s not every day that a small, cartoony game catches the attention of veteran gamers such as myself. We tend to favour the more complex games, the aesthetic styles of which reflect their focus on realism and their down-to-earth approach to their subject matters. Space Rangers HD: A War Apart, on the other hand, caught my eye, not for its revamped HD graphics or its appealing colourful style, but for the sheer amount of options presented to the player. It truly is aiming to be a game you can play any way you wish.
I must admit that I had never heard of the Space Rangers series until this year’s Gamescom. What caught my attention was the fact that the game contains almost every genre of gameplay. You’ll have to utilise your Real-Time Strategy skills in order to take over planets, your sense of business to make it big as an intergalactic trader, and those fast reactions you’ve developed through all those years of hanging out in arcades in the hyperspace battles. The developers have stated, however, that no specific genre will be dominant or forced upon the player. If you don’t like the RTS bit, you can just skip it. The same applies to every other aspect of the game. You choose how you play. It even has text adventures for those longing for a return of the days of Zork.
The game is a remake and an expansion of Space Rangers 2, a game that gained some popularity in Russia and Finland, but never really made it on to the western world’s radar. The game world will be dynamic and persistent so that the player’s actions, as well as the actions of other AI characters, affect the world. The player’s inaction will be blissfully ignored by the AI, who will go about their business and gain galactic domination in the player’s absence. What this means is that the game allows for virtually endless possibilities and no play-through will ever be the same. Replay value doesn’t get much higher than this.
Rage against the machines
Not only will you be able to completely control how you play the game in terms of your gameplay preferences, but you will also be able to choose sides. Humanity is locked in battle with a race of sentient robots dubbed Dominators. In addition to that, the once scattered clans of pirates have united under the leadership of an unknown force. The player can choose to infiltrate the pirate army, fight for the good side, or ignore the war completely. The economy of the planets is based on a complicated system of supply and demand, but what is more impressive is that the gigantic solar system is randomly generated each time a new game is started. This means that each play-through is truly unique.
The player begins the game as a low ranking pirate and after a few initial story-driven missions the player can choose his own path. The aforementioned AI NPC’s, however, start at the same level and with the same objectives. They can, theoretically, complete the game before you do and their actions have consequences in the game world, and to you. Everything is interconnected and every action sends a ripple effect throughout the galaxy.
The previous games gathered a cult following and were critically acclaimed by the few who reviewed them. A HD remake should certainly be a welcome addition to the collection of players who regularly play the original games, but will it be enough to draw in new players? I, for one, am very intrigued by this game and from what I’ve discovered through my research, a lot of people are in eager anticipation of its arrival. With a tried and true mix of popular genres, HD graphics and a massive randomly generated galaxy to explore and conquer, there’s simply too much value to ignore.