Starpoint Gemini: Warlords Preview | MOUSE n JOYPAD


I love exploratory gameplay. Games like the Wind Waker and Sid Meier’s Pirates always get me excited to play them, with little to no buildup necessary, and I’ll spend hours of game time just aimlessly sailing around the world maps with no real goal or objective in mind. Maybe it’s because that’s the closest I’ll ever get to being an old world explorer, or maybe it’s just something deep in my psyche that approves, but it’s very hard for me to dislike similar games….Unless they’re set in space.

Maybe it’s because a lot of similar titles just have space as this, big blank expanse where nothing happens until you reach your destination (Like Starfleet Academy), or all the interesting bits are off limits because you need to stay inside the ship at all times (Like Mass Effect 2). Thankfully, despite sharing some of these elements, I can safely say that I thoroughly enjoyed my time with Starpoint Gemini Warlords.


Be prepared to see a ton of empty space in… space.

Developed by Little Green Men Games and published by Iceberg Interactive, Warlords is the latest in recent space trading and combat simulator series Starpoint Gemini. Placing players into the role of space station Concordia’s commander, what the game becomes is entirely up to the player. Want to just take bounties and blow stuff up? You can do that. Want to shuttle goods from port to port like an interstellar member of the Eastern India Trading Company? You can do that. Want to collect and modify a number of ships for your private collection? You can do that. Want to get caught up in interstellar politics and imperialism? That’s the main storyline.

To be more specific, the main story has you playing as the commander of the Concordia after the mission in the prologue goes absolutely tits up due to some rebel fighters blow up your previous ship, the Icarus. Barely making it out alive due to your escape pod and the commander of the Serene’s valiant efforts, players are given a few starter objectives and a basic starter ship to cruise the galaxy in.

This means, of course, it’s up to you to discover the who, what, when, where, and why of the attack; but after the prologue/tutorial introducing players to moving the ship around in a 3D environment using a combination of mouse and keyboard controls, it really leaves players to their own devices. Taking an Elder Scrolls approach, the most you really get afterwards are a few brief mission prompts and a new entry in your journal prompting you to go to the next mission objective, but nothing to force you to a specific trail. As stated earlier, what players want to do after this point is really up to them within reason. I, for one, took inspiration from the greatest spaceman (Philip J Fry) and became an intergalactic delivery boy. Taking delivery missions whenever they appeared because they were fast, easy, and profitable. Just turn on your sublight drive and set the “go-to” marker to your objective, and use the three to four minutes to reach your destination to do whatever.

Enemies threatening to harm you if a toll isn’t paid? Just blast them back to the stone age with the variety of weapons available to players. Everything from Beam Cannons to Rail Guns allows ship-to-ship combat to be fun and entertaining each time a skirmish pops up on the horizon, and visual indicators guiding your shot with the right mouse button means you’ll have an easier time than in most games finding the mark on your targets. Or, for those of us who don’t get their thrills on danger and explosions, you almost always have the ever reliable “tactical retreat” option to prevent becoming another martyr for the empire.


Bigger ships mean you can have more and bigger guns. Moar Dakka or Bust.

Of course, don’t go expecting “Skyrim but with Space!” just yet, for all the options it allows players there are also plenty of restrictions to player freedoms put in place either through the genre of game, or the fact that it’s still only in Early Access at the moment. The least of these would be the fact that currently, you can’t select your own last name in the character creation profiles, but other missing features currently make the game world feel empty. Which, while suitable for the endless void of space, makes for a rather off putting game environment.

When bandits or other small ships hail your frequency, all you get is a generic symbol representing a placeholder, there’s tons of negative space in the world map between objectives, and while there’s currently a ton of choices and options for players to tweak the ships they play around with within a set amount of slot limits and such, the game’s still only about half full and it shows.

Not helping is the rather generic and lackluster score accompanying the game. Soaring through the void is tedious in its own right, but the soundtrack will definitely put you to sleep if you don’t put on your own music in place of it. At least the sound effects are pretty good, helping to deliver impact with each shot and beam that connects with the enemy ships, and making the whole sci-fi scene come together whenever you activate things like Cloaking or your sublight drive.

Overall, this is a promising title that’ll appeal to fans of series like Wing Commander or Starfleet Bridge Simulator, or really anyone who suffers from that unquenchable wanderlust and can’t stand waiting an eternity for Star Citizen to come out. Twenty five bucks might seem steep to some, especially if you’re on a shoestring college student budget like myself, but it’s definitely cheaper than most modern releases with just as much to them.