In Space, No One Can Hear You Swear
You really have to be a fan of turn-based strategies to put up with Spaceforce Captains. It’s a low budget game, and it displays that distinction like a badge of honor in every aspect, from the gameplay to the graphics and all points in between. It’s a buggy game filled with glitches. To get it up and running smoothly will require more patches than you could count at a pirate’s convention. To play this game to the bitter end requires patience, perseverance, and some form of optimism, or as I like to call it, denial.
If I had to choose only one simple phrase to describe the problems with Spaceforce Captains, it would likely be, “experiencing technical difficulties beyond anyone’s control.” It’s as though the game was attacked by some kind of virus before it was released, causing all kinds of disruptions and distortions. The problems go beyond the merely technical. It’s bad enough to have to purposely shut down the game because you get locked into combat mode without an opponent, but there are problems with continuity, graphics, gaps in logic, and the translation. It all adds up to a title that is really no fun at all to play. Not to say that it can’t be fixed in the future, but I can hardly wait for the weekend to roll around, never mind waiting for “the future.”
Compared to action-oriented video games, turn-based games are much cheaper to produce. Their appeal is more cerebral. You are conducting war on what is basically a stylized chessboard. Players move their weapons and/or characters on a grid in an effort to gain the best position from which to launch or fend off an attack. There isn’t a lot of call for animation, graphic detail, voiceovers, and cutscenes. So there’s really no excuse for turning out such a glitchy turn-based game. And speaking of comparisons, Spaceforce Captains is directly based on Heroes of Might and Magic, with the exception that it takes place in space and incorporates the use of technologies instead of spells. Not to mention that aliens also replace the non-human characters such as wizards and fairies. Spaceforce Captains only compares to Heroes in the fact that it “tries” to emulate it. It just doesn’t try hard enough.
You will start off with six races (classes) and five upgradeable units. Moving through space, you will have the opportunity to raid other parties for their loot, capture strongholds and other territories, and defend yourself against attack from other unscrupulous rapscallions. Whichever way you slice it, you’re going to have to enter into some form of combat to get the desired results. One thing I should mention is that the option for seeing your spaceship’s position on the grid is defaulted to the off position. You’ll want to turn that on immediately if you want to see where you are and where you are going. Once that is set, you set about to make your mark on the universe. The basic gameplay elements will have you exploring space with your captain his fleet, exploiting resources, acquiring more units, upgrading technologies, and conquering more territory. Aside from being a turn-based game, there are elements of role-playing, empire building, and to a lesser extent, real-time strategy.
In battle, the most effective weapon is the laser. It’s the same weapon for each ship. It not only imparts the same destructive capabilities, but it also triggers the same energy blast animation for each hit, along with the same sound effect. Technologies come in a variety of flavors. They are the Heroes equivalent of spells and include teleporting, cloaking, shield disrupting, morale boosters, and more esoteric elements such as duality and anti-quantum defense. Some of the these technologies can give you the upper hand in battle, such as the particle cannon which can dish out 20- damage to your opponent, and others such as the disruptors can block the use of enemy technologies.
There are certainly a lot of captains in this game. There are more than 100 of them, with various attributes that slightly affect the upgrading of technologies. These captains include humans and aliens which belong to a variety of classes including scientists, soldiers, doctors, pirates, spy, explorer, and headhunter. The captain commands a fleet of spaceships, deploying them in strategic positions for attack or defense. A huge problem arises when you attempt to check the stats on the opponent’s ships. In just about every instance, the stats showing the relative strength and number of units was wrong. I just blamed it on the captain.
Exploiting resources for the manufacturing of more ships is as simple as finding an asteroid and mining it for materials. But there’s an even easier way to raise capital for such expenses. Just sell your minerals for gold. Type in 0 for the amount that you want to sell, and you’ll get 19 gold for your efforts. Cheating? This is Cheat Code Central last time I looked. It’s up to the developers to fix that now.
Graphically, Spaceforce Captains is dated. Sure, it’s a budget title, but the continued re-use of explosions animation and the space-as-a-backdrop painting do little freshen things up. The spaceships display some imaginative designs, but they look better as icons on the interface than in action. Space stations and other buildings look bland. Maps are not user-friendly and can be a task to figure out. The cutscenes are awful, with poor animation and passable voiceacting. It seems only the soundtrack possesses enough quality not to annoying me. So maybe that means that Spaceforce Captains should be heard and not seen. I should have just bought the CD instead.
RATING OUT OF 5 RATING DESCRIPTION 2.4 Graphics
Awful cutscenes. Re-used explosions animation. Drab buildings and environments. 2.2 Control
Interface is not user-friends. Maps hard to discern. 4.0 Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Music is thematic, well recorded and poignant to the scene. Voiceacting is passable. 2.3 Play Value
Buggy game filled with technical flaws. Expect crashes. 2.4 Overall Rating – Poor
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.