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Game Info:

Spaceforce: Rogue Universe HD
Developed by: Dreamatrix
Published by: Dreamatrix
Release Date: June 5, 2007  (Released in HD May 2015)
Genre: RPG, Space simulation
Number of Players: Single Player
ESRB Rating: Teen
Price: $12.99 on Steam

Thank you Dreamatrix for giving us a copy of this game to review!

Spaceforce: Rogue Universe was first released in 2007 to a mixed reception. A few critics praised its unique blending of space simulation gameplay with RPG elements. However, most reviewers pointed out its laundry list of flaws. Now, eight years later, Dreamatrix has re-released this title in HD, and the results are disappointing. 

Our story begins when Jim Anderson's father is killed in battle against Union Forces, a coalition of humans opposed to the Earth Defense Force. Flash forward, Jim is all grown up and estranged from his sister, Jax Anderson, whom he swore to protect. In wanting to protect her, he has joined the EDF and is ready to take his final exam to be a pilot. Oh and by the way, at some point, Jax was kidnapped. Confused? Good. Because the story never gets any clearer or more meaningful. 

The game has two modes: story and freeplay. In story mode, players will assume the role of Jim Anderson, intrepid pilot, as he searches the galaxy to rescue his sister through a loosely connected narrative driven along by vacuous characters and anemic dialogue. Making matters worse, while there are a massive number of quests, they are so shallow and generic that they quickly become repetitive - 'hey buddy, go here and kill x-number of pirates,' or 'hey guy, go there and activate this satellite,' or 'hey friend, go and destroy these bad guys' space station.' On and on it goes until you groan when yet another cutscene starts, wherein the camera will rotate around some poorly rendered ships while you listen to phoned-in dialogue by voice actors who sound bored.

Highlights:

Strong Points: An interesting premise of blending space simulation with RPG mechanics
Weak Points: Deficient tutorial; subpar graphics; shallow gameplay; vapid story and characters
Moral Warnings: Drug/alcohol references; fantasy violence; PG language

 

Far less painful is free play mode. In fact I would daresay that it can be fun at times. Here, players will create a character and select their ship, portrait, and profession. The various choices offer differing starting stats such as tougher shields or larger cargo capacity. Players will also select a faction to initially align themselves with, which will affect their starting point and enemies. This is where Rogue Universe is almost decent, allowing a player to painstakingly blaze his own trail across the galaxy.

Despite free play mode being far more enjoyable than the story, both modes are plagued by a number of core issues. These are so numerous that to list them all, let alone describe them, would more than double the length of this review. Therefore, I will briefly focus upon what I see as the game's biggest problems.

First of all are the graphics. The game looks no better than it did eight years ago, regardless of being in 'HD.' Next is sound. While not terrible, the sound effects are quite generic, and the techno/electronica soundtrack is uninspiring. Third is the game's lack of tutorials. Aside from an inadequate series of vague messages (along the lines of: 'use boost to go faster'), there is no actual in-game instruction, tutorial missions, nor even a digital manual. For any simulation game, it is simply unacceptable for a player to be forced to comb the internet looking for basic instructions because the game does not provide them. Compounding this near criminal oversight: in order to adjust or even reference the controls a player must exit to the main menu.    

Score Breakdown:
Higher is better
(10/10 is perfect)

Game Score - 54%
Gameplay - 10/20
Graphics - 5/10
Sound - 4/10
Stability - 5/5
Controls - 3/5

Morality Score - 86%
Violence - 5.5/10
Language - 7.5/10
Sexual Content - 10/10
Occult/Supernatural - 10/10
Cultural/Moral/Ethical - 10/10

The final problem I'll mention lay in the over-hyped RPG elements. They are so shallow that it would be better if they were simply not present, since they add nothing but disappointment. To illustrate this point, the game is advertised as including deep, complex diplomacy. While the story includes a few diplomatic decisions, the reality is that diplomacy is little more than your standing with the different factions populating the galaxy. Its effects boil down to who is more willing to attack you without provocation, or let you trade in their regions. In fact, the most effectual way to increase your standing is to simply buy a faction's friendship by paying them tribute. Such superficiality is rampant in almost every aspect of this game. None of these much-lauded elements are ever fleshed out enough to make them more than 'just sorta there.' This is a tragedy given the potential impact things like diplomacy or crafting could have had. Even more tragic is the fact that these problems were more than sufficiently pointed-out in 2007, as most reviews from that time bear witness. This means that in eight years the developers have done nothing to improve a game that was only mediocre when it was first released.

On the morality front, there is 'mild' cursing used throughout with words like h**l. There are also references to various narcotics, most frequently seen as trade items. Overall, the violence is minimal with space ships being blown to smithereens. However, when your own ship is destroyed, you very briefly see your pilot's upper and lower halves amongst the wreckage but without any blood or gore present. 

Long story short, Spaceforce: Rogue Universe is a game that wasn't very good in 2007 and is downright bad in 2015. From a lackluster story to underwhelming gameplay, a poor interface to subpar graphics, this game manages to be a disappointment in almost every category. I truly wish I could end this on a good note, to say that despite its issues this game possessed some kind of redeeming feature - a 'diamond in the rough' as it were. However, regardless of the fact that this game can deliver moments of enjoyment, these instances are too few and far-between to ignore its mountain of glaring problems.

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Christ Centered Gamer looks at video games from two view points. We analyze games on a secular level which will break down a game based on its graphics, sound, stability and overall gaming experience. If you’re concerned about the family friendliness of a game, we have a separate moral score which looks at violence, language, sexual content, occult references and other ethical issues.

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