Review by slobmeat

Reviewed: 05/21/10

Made me as sleepy as a Space Dog

Graphics
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The graphics are decent for a DS game. The ships are all 3D, but still pretty bland. Your view is glued to the side of your flagship and then the enemy has a tiny ship in the corner of the screen. When you order your ships to fire, there's about 5-10 seconds of radio chatter, then the camera looks just at your ships as they fire all their weapons at once (you can't just shoot certain ones), then it switches and looks at the enemy ships as your shots stream in. It ends with the enemy ship blowing up into 3 chunks. This is all pretty boring and I was glad to be able to tap the stylus to skip through all this.

Sound
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Ok. Nothing I remember one way or the other.

Story
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I only played the game 5 hours, but I wasn't hooked. Yuri's home planet and that story is pretty lame - some EX -"space dog" settled the planet and thus has domain over the people there, and he forbids space travel because he's jealous and doesn't want anyone else to have the fun he can't.

Other reviews say the story gets good, and I wanted to play long enough to find out, but I felt I had given the game enough time.

Gameplay
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I really disliked the gameplay. You have a fleet of up to 5 ships. However, they act as one ship in battle. They all move together and fire at the same time. The enemy is the same except you can target specific ships. What’s the point of making specialized ships with different speeds, armor, and weapon ranges? Does the game just average these stats?

There are 3 basic commands, Dodge, Normal Attack, and Barrage. Barrage does 3x damage but misses versus Dodge. Normal Attack gets an accuracy bonus versus dodge. It gets quite easy to predict what the enemy is doing since you can see their charge level based on their color. The charge bar goes from green, to yellow, to red - which matches the 3 basic commands respectively. If the enemy is at yellow and drops to green, they just dodged, so don't use Barrage, use Normal Attack. Otherwise just use barrage. If the enemy is at yellow, they may use barrage as soon as they hit red, so dodge. If they hit red and haven't fired, they're going to use normal attack, so use another command to cancel dodge. BORING.

Ship customization is also disappointing. You buy modules (like Radar Center, Sick Bay) and fit them into the grid inside your ship's layout. Modules have different shapes, everyone says like Tetris, but you can't rotate the pieces. A lot of the modules were boring, like the Accounting Office... awesome! Usually you just put the highest level version of each component on your ship. Many modules are limited to 1 per type, so you can't have 5 shield generators. There's also no kind of power requirement to worry about. Far too many modules cater to keeping your crew happy - I want less of these and more combat oriented modules.

You can also assign characters to different crew positions. Unless you memorize the giant Help dictionary you won't be able to tell what ship stats you're affecting though. I don't think you can see a numerical change on ANY menu. Also, apparently the fleet has but one crew, all on your flagship. I got a 2nd ship finally, but was shocked I couldn't assign a captain. There are also about 30 positions to assign people to. Instead of just Helmsman, you get Helmsman, Assistant Helmsman, and Navigation Officer - or something like that. I would've liked to see only about 10 positions on a ship, with a separate crew for each ship.

This game has random encounters. You'll have a lot of them flying between systems. They're easy and only take less than a minute usually. Who knew there were 100s and 100s of pirate ships just roaming around waiting to be destroyed? You can also choose to escape most battles before even entering combat (no penalty?).

Jump gates separate areas of space. Once in a new area, the systems are linked in a network with set paths between nodes. You plot your course, and then hold down the speed up button to zip to your next encounter. Each system is pretty much the same with just the Tavern to visit. A few stations have a shop where you can buy modules (one time only? never gets new inventory?). About half the stations have a shipyard where you can buy a new ship or change modules.

I found the menu lacking and annoying. You can't see the effect modules have on the ship's overall stats without exiting a couple screens and going to the CTA menu. To sell your flagship, you must first set another ship as your flagship on the CTA fleet menu, then exit and go to the remodel screen and sell it, then exit and go to the Shipyard and buy a new one, then exit and go back to the fleet menu to set it as your new flagship.

Other
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+ 5 save slots, on a DS game!
+ Can skip through battle animations
- MUST use stylus for many menus
- Too easy
- The Help menu has way too much to read (could be presented better)
- Game almost always selects the farthest ship as your target (least chance to hit)

Making the game better
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How would I improve this game? I'd start battles on a 2D grid with ships laid out in a basic preset formation. You could then order SEPARATE ships to move and attack SEPARATE targets. This would happen in real time and you'd see a battle of up to 10 ships moving and firing at different targets. Radio Chatter of important events would be cool here. There should be AI setting for ships too so you don't need to micro-manage - like "keep your distance and use long range weapons" or "close in and board the ship." Each ship would only have about 10 officer positions, and you'd need a crew for each ship. Module design would be more varied so you could set up your ship based on different strategies, not just put the highest level of each component in there.

Closing
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I only played this game for 5 hours. I was flying through battles in 30 seconds, skipping animations, and had the timing of button presses memorized. I kept advancing the plot but it never got interesting. I had to go to bed early because I got so sleepy playing it. I wanted to like this game and keep giving it more time, but you shouldn't have to sit through 10? hours until a game gets good. So I do NOT recommend this game to anyone and luckily I only rented it.

Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Product Release: Infinite Space (US, 03/16/10)

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