|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Clear Crown Studios||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Clear Crown Studios||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Aug. 19, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Shattered Suns seems to have begun life as an overly-ambitious project, only to have the developers run out of steam (or money) somewhere along the way. It's a shell of a game. It fails at almost everything it attempts. There are those that will argue it's playable; a unicycle is ride-able, but wouldn't you rather ride a Harley?
Shattered Suns is functional at best, but it's by no means fun. It's old-fashioned, not old-school. It's filled with flaws, mostly found in the camera angles and the annoyingly rendered 3D spatial environment where everything moves. The story is far too detailed and consequently convoluted. Not to mention that it's presented all in text with no cutscenes. My confidence in this game has been shattered.
Primarily a real-time strategy game, Shattered Suns contains economic sim and combat elements. The economic sim components involve resource gathering, base and fleet building, and establishing trade with other planets. For a game that is so text heavy, the missions are vaguely explained. They are so unclear that you have to float around waiting to bump into something that will kick things in gear. To make matters worse, if you can believe it, some missions are entirely text-based. I'm not talking about the old-school strategy games that required little more than pen and paper; that I could live with. Instead, it's just a matter of answering some questions. There's a huge lack of depth, and that's not because the game is easy. It doesn't have to be complex to have depth, it just doesn't provide much in the way of strategy and originality. It's just plain boring.
The storyline is little more than a mature version of Mario exploring a strange new world, battling enemies while searching for his lost princess. In this case, you play as a cliché space commander, Captain Max. He's brought back into service after an invasion of the galaxy by evil, alien forces. The story deals with Max's feelings for his missing girlfriend and his duty to his fellow humans. The poor guy is torn, and you will feel his pain. God will you feel the torment. The storyline really rams the pathos down your throat in excruciating detail. Fortunately, there are some humorous exchanges with his computer aide, Citron.
Missions, when you finally realize what you're supposed to be doing, include escorts, setting up trade routes, building bases, acquiring a fleet, killing aliens in space combat, mining for resources, and general maintenance of resources. There is a basic cohesion to these missions but they do feel more like an obligation to the genre than anything truly inspired. They are merely a means to an end. There's nothing original or fresh in the gameplay. The cumbersome menu system is more of a chore in itself with what seemingly looks like a lot of options but are just extra windows to access what few options there are. Choices are limited, and in some cases such as the text-based missions, there are no choices at all. The answers have already been selected for you, all you have to do is respond. And when I tell you there's a lot of text in this game, it's like a damn novel. With important information disseminated in the conversations it's not advisable to skip reading most of these section, but the text is so slow in coming up, not to mention so small, that's it's almost unreadable if you have the resolution lowered. With the vague mission mandates, you're going to need all the help that you can get just to understand exactly what you're supposed to be doing. So, happy reading.
Space stations and spaceships can be customized in various ways. First, you will have to secure some resources and currency. Mining is the primary method used to finance the construction of your empire. Clicking on the option box, you send an exploration team to extract minerals from various sources such as a moon or other planets.