So I was milling around last week and found this: Gratuitous Space Battles. Being an adult with a credit card I decided to indulge and downloaded the game.
To be straight to the point it was worth every last digital and plastic copper coin! Essentially, the premise of the game is simple. Build a fleet to destroy your opponent. But here’s the unique bit – you don’t actually do any fighting yourself. Doesn’t sound exciting? No, probably not… yet. The idea is that most battles are won in the design studios and engineering labs of spaceship executives, and here is where you come in. You pick a ship hull, stick on some lasers, add a shield, add armour and an engine. You then place you creations on the field of battle, tell the starship commanders what to do and sit back, relax, and watch your fleet get blasted into bite size chunks. So then you go back to the drawing board. Maybe I need a different type of shield? How about some plasma torpedoes? Redeploy, this time telling your captains to actually work together. Get a drink, sit back, and watch more space chunk formation. Back to square one. Right, now I definitely need some fighter cover. Go design a fighter. Might need a carrier too, so I’ll make one of those. Add in some complimentary electronic warfare ships and redeploy. More space chunks. And so the cycle gets repeated until you actually finish the challenge.
Challenges come in various sizes, with differing forces and special rules. Once you have finished all in game challenges you can go online and play challenges created by other players, with the ability to post your own challenges. Expansions are also available with new missions and factions.
The actual battles are well depicted. Fighters zoom around, missiles fly all over the place, lasers streak light beams across the background, bouncing off of shield bubbles. There is an option to speed up the battle, as you don’t actually do anything but watch things unfold. This can be quite nailbiting at times, as you watch your captains execute your orders. Your orders are quite simple, for example, engage frigates at 500m. Work together. Prioritize shooting damaged enemy ships. They carry out these orders effectively but with a good dose of AI. Most of the battle is down to your deployment and designs.
It’s infuriatingly addictive at times. No one ship design is superior to any other and each one will have pros and cons. It’s about designing a fleet with ships that work together well, all within the budget. Throw in four factions, each with unique abilities and a ton of unlockables. GSB is a fun little replacement for times when your Firestorm Armada friends are at kindergarden and your Full Thrust mates are kicking the bins over.