R.I.P. Space Combat
Posted on Thursday, May 12 2011 @ 15:29:28 PST
Summer is just about upon us now; finals are bearing down on college students, with the promise of summer break and all of the broken air-conditioners, rushed vacation plans and charred meat that it entails. It also marks the beginning of what I like to call, the “Game Release Doldrums,” so named because it’s the season where the fewest games I am interested in are released. Though it looks like this year’s GRD should not be too tedious, I guarantee that most, if not all, of the games I acquire this season will be those that I have been unable to purchase over the past few months.
As I use this period of free time to pine over how I will be investing my paltry gaming budget over the summer, something occurred to me. Where have all the space combat games gone? I am not merely talking about arcade-style space shooters that are being buoyed by retro-style games or rereleases on the XBLA and PSN (the present downtime excluded) or combat games like Halo which involve space but is not necessarily the aspect that is the most focused on. I mean games like those of the Rogue Squadron or Wing Commander series, where you piloted star fighters and participated in large-scale space battles (though the original Rogue Squadron technically took place on all terrestrial battlefields).
The last game that I acquired that ascribed to that genre in any particular form was Starfox: Assault, which was not only bad (though I feel that most of that can be laid that it was trying to break into a third-shooter) but was also released during the last console generation. Even Rogue Squadron developer Factor 5 only appearance this console generation was Lair, an air combat game couched in high fantasy. What the hell happened?
To be honest, I really wish I knew. All things considered, I would surmise that it would it would be developers shifting focus to appeal to genres that appealed wider audiences. I suppose I can understand that, all good things do come to an end eventually and all that, but that being said, it should have at least gone out with a bang, instead of sliding into obscurity alongside nostalgic sighs designed to block away memories of unpleasant final moments.
I suppose not all hope is lost for that sort experience. Space Combat’s close cousin Air Combat is still afloat, though I haven’t been into that quite as much, and the fact that a lot of the old PC Space Combat games are still kicking around the internet, and Steam has a huge back-library of old games. Come to think of it, I still have all the Rogue Squadron games, and I think my old disk for X-Wing: Alliance is still lying around somewhere. The old games themselves are still around to be sure, but what I really wish for is a focused Space Combat game for a current generation console or PC.
As far as I can see, the Space Combat genre is dead, and has passed on to the realm of fond memories. Perhaps in the future, some niche-developer will revive the Space Combat genre, but given the current video game landscape I am just not seeing any hope for it. Rest in peace Space Combat games, I had a great deal of fun playing you, and will likely be making quite a few nostalgia purchases on you.
P. S.: If anyone can find a Space Combat game that was released in the current console generation that you think I should be aware of, please tell me about it and I will gladly check it out and rethink my stance on the matter. Also, if anyone knows about any visual mods for X-Wing: Alliance, I could use a recommendation in that regard. I can play it again without it, but I would like to give the game a few touch-ups.