Gratuitous Space Battles 2 Review | MOUSE n JOYPAD

Gratuitous Space Battles 2 Review



Do you plan much while playing video games? I’m not talking about marking enemies before rushing head-first towards them while riding an elephant with a mounted machine-gun, no. I’m talking about building your equipment in excruciating detail, taking your sweet time to visually design it, then preparing for combat and only later letting the action sequence begin. This is what Gratuitous Space Battles 2 is all about, just like its predecessor, and I hope you got your big-boy pants on, because if there’s one thing this game does nicely, then it’s the intensity of combat.


As you can see, discerning things is usually a gargantuan task.

But there are other things to deal with before letting your custom fleet duke it out with the unwashed peasantry that is fighting on the wrong side of the conflict. First of all, you’re definitely going to want to carefully read everything the tutorial messages say. Despite how it might seem at first, GSB 2 is a very complicated and nuanced game, where tiny changes may very well affect the final outcome of the upcoming clash. Take, for instance, the weaponry: it’s a classical mish-mash of missile, plasma, laser and sonic armaments you can freely pick and choose from at your behest. Comparing them, however, is not a simple task because some of them have fifteen stats to take note of. It’s not just the weapons though, as nearly every important object has a fair number of statistical values to get a grip of. While I greatly appreciate the depth on offer here, I can’t help but ask myself if I really need to know about all of these things. And while such a large number of variables might be important in a system where large oscillations occur often, Gratuitous Space Battles 2’s weapons don’t differ much one from another, visual effects aside.

Unnecessary complexity aside, the successor to the 2009’s GSB nurtures the same mechanics that made the original unique. When you manage to figure out how each underlying system works, you’ll be ready to tackle the more difficult challenges set before you in the game’s single player campaign. It’s a mode consisting of eleven missions that you’re probably going to breeze through in a couple of hours, but I feel that it does a pretty good job at forcing you to learn how to play. Brute force will only carry you so far. Mind you, the single player mode won’t teach you much per se, but will make you try things out on your own or ask for advice from the more advanced players.

This mode of play also has another function, as by completing missions you get to earn Honour. Honour is the main currency of the game and is used to unlock new visual add ons, new weapon and utility modules, new races et cetera. The problem lies in the fact that Honour is very easily hoarded and it really won’t take you long to buy all the stuff you need (or think you need) to complete your dream space fleet. Hell, if you’re so inclined you can spend it all right away to unlock all of the hull parts so that you can have every single visible part at your disposal from the get go. While I didn’t go on one such rampage just yet, I did buy a lot of stuff that’s virtually unusable for me. Why? Because I play as a Terran, and each race has a selection of their specific items that no one else has access to. This is shown by a small indicator you barely see when buying stuff. It’s frustrating, really, because you’re supposed to scan the UI for every single detail whenever the game throws a new screen at you.



And boy is Gratuitous Space Battles 2a graphically busy game. There’s no discussion around the fact that it looks pretty, no. The developer seemingly went to great lengths to ensure everything looks crisp and shiny at any given point and the results are immediately visible. From the highly polished main menu to the wonderfully flashy combat sequences that are a marvel to look at, you’ll never rest your eyes here. But that’s a problem just as much as it is a good thing. Once your ships start blowing the enemy to smithereens, you’ll have a hard time discerning what’s what because meteors fly about, space debris floats in close vicinity, lens flare punches you in the eye and several other niceties come in the way. But this is not that much of a problem once you memorize what your ships are and how they look like.

As for that, I’ve already mentioned that you’ve basically got free reign as far as ship design goes, but those of us who truly appreciate unit editors will have lots to enjoy in Gratuitous Space Battles 2. The ship designer module is large, robust and easy to use. You’ll have it all under your belt after some half an hour fiddling with it, and then it’s all up to you and your imagination. Sadly, there are issues here too, as the game seemingly decided some of my designs were too disturbing for it to render and simple did away with them. Other people have been having the same issue too so I’m sure it’ll get fixed pretty fast.

It does tell you much about the game’s current state though. It’s almost as if the dev was forced to release now, as you’ll probably be contending with crashes and data deletion on a sessional basis. Have in mind that this is a good game, a truly good and interesting one, but it lacks content. I doubt it’ll take you more than four to five hours to clear the single player campaign on most difficulties – once you get your fleet properly built, barging with the enemy will rarely make you worried about the outcome. And since you’ll finish it all up, you’ll also unlock everything worth unlocking very fast. Too fast, if you ask me. A skirmish mode where you’d face randomly generated (or your own, for that matter) fleets would go a long way towards enhancing the game’s replayability, but there’s none to be found. Once you’ve had your fun in the single player campaign, you can thankfully turn to the game’s interesting multiplayer mode which works kind of like the skirmish mode I so eagerly would await. Other players upload their prized fleets for you to test your mettle against, and these are usually much more dynamic and intense battles than what you’ll find in the single player portion. So ‘multiplayer’ is what you’ll generally want to focus on here, in the long run.

In conclusion, I can safely say that Gratuitous Space Battles 2 indeed is a good game and a fun experience, with lots of eye-candy and customizability. Sadly, bugs and the general lack of content drive it down and make it seem as if it’s an Early Access game in some regards. Can I justify buying it at full price? No, not really. At $15 it would be an easy pick, especially once the bugs get ironed out, but not like this. In the end, it’s up to you whether you wait or get it right away. Those who enjoyed the original will likely find much to love here, so I suggest you take a gander at the game at the very least.