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Starshatter Review

Developer: Destroyer Studios Publisher: Matrix Games
Release Date: July 20, 2004 Also On: None

Look! Up in the sky! It’s a bird! No…it’s a plane! No…it’s Super…no… wait. It’s just another spaceship. That’s what you would be saying if you were in the gaming scene of the early 90s. Space simulations were all the rage back in the “old days,� but they seem to be nearly dead today. Starshatter is an innovative space sim that hit stores recently. However, due to flaws in the very core of its fighting system, Starshatter fails to be placating.

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Starshatter, in its very essence, is a space flight sim. The creators also integrated a space fighting sim and a real time strategy sim into it. You have the option of either using the keyboard, joystick, or mouse. All work fine. In the beginning of the game, you have the choice of either being a fighter pilot or the captain of a small Frigate-class spacecraft. One of the most interesting features is the ability to turn off Newtonian physics.

Basically, you’ll encounter numerous missions with a plethora of combat. The more you kill, the more you destroy, the more missions you finish, and the more experience points you receive. Eventually your rank will increase to the point where you command a carrier. This game doesn’t require a strategic mind, because it doesn’t go too heavily on the doses of strategy. A person who never played a real RTS would probably end up liking this half RTS.

Another astonishing feature is the modding capabilities. You can change nearly everything, and create some great missions. The modder actually has the capacity of creating a mission that surpasses most of the normal missions. Take for example the mission briefing in the normal missions. Only text. However, in user-made missions, you have the ability to add voice briefings. This game would have significantly better if there were a big enough community that created these missions. Sadly, this game isn’t popular, and the chance of you finding an excellent fan-made mission is little to none.

The graphics are mediocre. Not the greatest, not the worst. The menus don’t have that pizzazz and color to it, but it’s not that noticeable. As for the audio, it was one step away from terrible. I ended up just cranking up my CD player instead of listening to this game. Godspeed You Black Emperor seems to be a perfect match with this game, for some unknown reason.

The biggest problem in this game is with the combat system. It’s a known fact that the best fights in this genre are the dogfights that require strategy and skill. In Starshatter, the missiles are notably unbalanced. Fighter planes don’t have shields and by shooting missiles, you can easily destroy them. The fact that you can shoot them so far away, giving you so much safety, only takes away more fun from the game.

Fighting multiple enemies is a real pain. If you fight multiple enemies, you’re going to die. You have to fight them one on one, or run away. These two flaws are very apparent, and cripple the entire experience. I did not like this combat, and the combat made most of the game. This fighting system will lead to many pointless deaths and might make it too hard for you to finish. You will try to break your computer after fighting for a while. End of story.

You’ll get about 11 hours out of this game, if the pointless deaths don’t manage to scare you away. I showed this game to a friend of mine, and within ten minutes he was turned off. Whatever you do, don’t expect a long game.

The poor fighting system kills the gameplay. The developers created something ingenious by integrating a space fighting sim and a RTS game into this flight sim, but they didn’t make these additions deep enough. While not really a flaw, it didn’t really help the game much either. If they made it deep enough, the poor fighting system could have been masked. While the modding system is good, the community isn’t large enough. This game had so much potential, but took too many wrong turns. It’s still worth a look.

Graphics: 7
Sound: 5
Gameplay: 7
Creativity: 8
Replay Value/Game Length: 6
Final: 7.6
Written by Simon Review Guide