This is the first of future articles about first impressions when playing a space strategy game. Of course that this kind of analysis is not so deep as a thorough review so it may be subject to more criticism, but that is a risk I´m willing to take.
Astro Empires is already a well established free space strategy (the free mode has some limitations, but is fully playable) web-based game known by many players. The idea of this article is to give the reader a global overview of this game to make it easier for newcomers.
For a review I did on another Web-Based MMOG – Ogame, please refer to my other article: Ogame Review, Tips and Strategy Guide.
When reaching Astro Empires homepage, I have to confess that I liked it. Few and synthetic information including a small text describing the game and information regarding how easy it is to install and the fact that it is free to play. It also displayed information about the advantage of not having to download anything, which captures the player’s attention for a smooth first impact. The homepage also gives a general overview of the game dimension and global information about the number of players, planets and bases in the server.
First Login, First Impressions
To be honest, when I made the first login I was not very pleased, I got a bit lost. I didn’t get immediately what I needed to do, it felt a bit unnatural and non-intuitive. The account overview is a little bit too texty, no graphic overview of your bases, your planets, I mean your location in the map. After 10 seconds, I found the Bases and Map icons…
When you choose one of your bases the following information is presented to you: an overview, the structures on it, the defenses, production, research and trade options. It presents all the standard issues of a common space strategy game, but the problem is with the details. When describing, for instance, the structures, there is no detailed information about them and it’s classification is done by means of numbers from one to a maximum level. I consider this a very simplistic approach that does not transmit a sense of realism to the player (but this is not strictly an Astro Empires thing, many games, like ogame for instance, also present this kind of simpler classification). I would prefer something more meaningful like “Advanced <structure>”, “Hyper”, “Automated” kind of upgrades but maybe that’s just a thing of mine.
Another down aspect in AE is when you click on a structure it shows the same text as it did on the list of structures (I thought the second was more like a small description in a first place) with no images and with a list of the levels that each structure can achieve… too simple. Lots of work to be done here. But there is lots of space to be filled. I guess that the developers are probably still working on this matter for sure.
The map is ok, a grid over the galaxy is displayed with all the planets in each grid square. It gives you a nice perspective of your location in the game. There are tow kinds of links in the map. When you click on the planet, you go directly to the colony information, when you click in the name of the player you see information which can be important to test your diplomatic skills…
For me, the timescale is the best feature of the game. I´m not a fan of rush kind web browser games where everything happens too fast. I like to take my time when placing a strategy. In this game, just because I was away for two days this didn’t ruined the game for me … my planet was not burning and my credits were not at zero!… against what is usual in some other web browser games like … travian, or ogame. I think this game has done a serious effort regarding this issue, but anyway I’m only playing it for a month, so I could be mistaken about this.
Gaming experience so far
I needed to do something relevant with the game to have enough juice for a first impression… so, after lots of research levels, I ordered the construction of two Outpost ships (odd name for a regular colony ship), it took me around 6 hours to complete them… After a 3 minutes travel (maybe a bit too fast for my taste), the colony ship reached a metallic planet in the same solar system… I clicked the button “Build Base”… and that’s all. I wanted to see more juice in the process. Building a base is not like building a small fighter, but in Astro Empires, in practical terms, is the same. At least a few extra options could be presented when starting a colony, maybe a small report, or some colonization options presented (native population present in the planet, artifacts/technologies found, decisions to be made that affect the planet quality, etc).
The future of this game is promising. I felt that the game is a like a raw diamond with many aspects still to be polished. The game is quick to load and to interact with and it seems that the engine beneath is also powerful. Now, the next step is to take more advantage of this engine and allow the player to extract the maximum potential of the concept but introducing more content.
I will continue to play the game and, in the future, I hope to write a deep review. In the meantime, I’ll explore the battles concept, colony management of several colonies, diplomacy aspects and the trading mechanism. I don´t know if I got lucky not having a dangerous alliance nearby (you can also join an alliance later) which allowed me to take me time to do things. IF this is confirmed than if you want to start a game in a “non-rush” mode, Astro Empires is a valuable option for you.Subscribe RSS
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