Also available on PlayStation 4, Xbox One, and OSX
All screenshots courtesy of www.rebel-galaxy.com
I got my copy of Rebel Galaxy from a Racketboy friend who had an extra code thanks to GoG's summer sale and was kind enough to offer it. I'd never heard of the game before, but I looked up a bit about it online when he mentioned it and thought that it sounded pretty cool. I was definitely not disappointed as it turned out to be one of the most fun and addicting space combat sims that I've ever played.
Rebel Galaxy has you take the role of a kid who ends up inheriting his aunt's old cargo ship along with a mysterious relic of some sort called a "Spectre." You then set out to find your aunt and figure out what the hell this thing she sent you is. Or something along those lines. The story wasn't very compelling, especially in the beginning, so I kind of spaced out. Anyway, eventually you find your aunt and discover that her totally legitimate space career has actually been a career in smuggling with dubious-at-best legitimacy and that the relic is part of some ancient device from a long dead alien race that's been broken into fragments. Thus begins you quest to find the fragments, upgrade your ship, and blow shit up in about a dozen different star systems.
Let's start with the good. The visuals are pretty nice for a mid budget game, and I only experienced one or two random crashes during my 35 hour play through. The game plays very much in the style of naval combat except in space. Being in space, you would expect to be able to move in all three dimensions, but that's not the case. While the absence of a Z axis for player movement feels really awkward at first, you eventually get used to it and stop thinking about it at all. That first hour or so WILL feel awkward, but don't quit there; once you get accustomed to the X/Y axis movement, the game controls very smoothly. The movement isn't the only aspect of naval combat that the game incorporates, either; the combat is almost exclusively done through broadside cannons. These can be either energy projectiles or - my preference - beam weapons, but they're all fired from broadside mounts. Each ship has a certain number of turret slots where you can place turrets that have a MUCH wide attack radius and are normally controlled by AI unless you opt to take control of them manually, and these turrets are the only way to attack in front of or behind you. While I experimented with most of the different turret types, I ended up going with all pulse turrets for the end of the campaign. Granted, I had the most powerful ship in the game with all max rank weapons, so that was mainly for "pew pew" effect; you're going to want a mix of mining lasers and precision lasers for your turrets if you want to maximize your DPS.
The game isn't perfect, however, and I'll briefly go through my few complaints with it. My biggest complaint, being a narrative-centric gamer, is that the story is kind of balls. I gets somewhat interesting and almost engaging at certain points, but it's really a ho-hum story that rarely gives you any real incentive to focus on it and does little if anything to keep you invested. It's not bad, per se; it's just very "meh." Number two on my list is the AI aspects. Some missions require escorting a starship somewhere else in the system, and surprisingly, keeping your ward alive isn't the worst part of these missions (though that can get irksome). The worst part is having to "pair warp." First off, when you first start the pairing, the AI automatically takes control of your ship to line you up and do the navigation. The problem is that it takes its sweet damn time finding the PERFECT spot and angle and distance before it actually engages the warp, and it seems to go out of its way to run into and get stuck on every single shard of debris anywhere in the immediate area. The second problem is that the destination that the mission description specifies is never (at least from what I noticed) the actual destination. It'll say "Escort this ship to Outpost C" or something, and you look at the map and think "Bitch, we're going the wrong fucking way!" only to realize five minutes later that you were actually supposed to be going to Outmost M. It's not a major problem, really, but it's definitely annoying. My third gripe - and this is the most minor of all - is that there's no option for cooperative multiplayer. This game would be perfect for cooperative fleet battles, and while it by no means lessens the game with its absence, it does seem like somewhat of a missed opportunity.
Rebel Galaxy isn't a perfect game, but I tell you what, it's a damn addicting one. I wasn't sure I'd actually finish this game when I started, but I found myself unable to quit playing once I started, staying up past midnight (which is a good two hours past when I normally turn in for the night) more than once because I couldn't tear myself away from the game. It has its flaws, but its positives and immensely fun combat (especially when you have the hella OP Blackgate dreadnaught) more than make up for those flaws. The story is balls, and the campaign really shouldn't take you more than 15 or 20 hours to get through if you focus on it, but some of the side missions are fun enough that you could easily put in 35 or 40 hours like I did just flying around doing side stuff. It's not a terribly expensive game normally, and as for the time that I'm writing this, it's still free with any purchase from GoG.com (and DRM free if you get it from them, too, for those of you for whom that's a concern). Whether you play it on GoG, Steam, PS4, or Xbox One doesn't matter, but if you're at all a fan of space or naval combat games, this is definitely not one that you should pass up if you have the opportunity to play it.
My Rating - 4 Neps
I'm Mr. Deck
And I like to play video games. I like to collect video games. I like to talk about video games, and I like to write about video games. During the day, I teach history at a high school in central North Carolina; during the night, I spend my spare time gaming. Then I write about it.