Ground control to Major Tom.
Fans of space exploration games have a lot to look forward in the coming year or so. With Horizon currently in Beta and Star Citizen and No Man’s Sky on their way, plenty of gamers will be boldly going where no man has gone before several times over the course of the next 365 days, it would seem. Developer Little Green Men has a challenge ahead of them then, as it looks to carve out a fanbase for Starpoint Gemini 2 amongst all the hype generated for its highly anticipated contemporaries.
Initial impressions of Starpoint Gemini 2 are great, with its inventive spacecraft designs and a gorgeous, almost ethereal galaxy laying ahead of you to explore. There are some lackluster textures, though, particularly on the asteroids that float around your ship. You are also able to fly directly through these asteroids unscathed, though I assume that this issue will be rectified in the final build.
Despite Starpoint having the look of an MMO, it is a completely single-player experience. However, it still adopts the mission structure of an MMO, allowing you to freely choose which missions you wish to undertake. There are three types of mission: story-based, side-missions, and freelance, the last of which is randomly generated depending upon which of the game’s factions you buddy up to... or anger. At the time of this writing the first two have not yet been implemented, so it remains to be seen how much they will differ from the available freelance quests (a major complaint with the first Starpoint Gemini was the lack of mission variety), but what is on offer showcases the kind of activities you’ll get up to in the Gemini star system.
While there is currently an abundance of fetch quests and recovery/repair missions, which grant you some nice, easy income despite being a little dull, the major combat overhaul Starpoint Gemini 2 has received compared to its predecessor makes the galactic dogfighting you’ll frequently partake in much more thrilling. Battles in Starpoint now take place on a 3D plane compared to the awkward static confrontations in the last game, meaning that you’ll now be maneuvering your way around huge space stations and through asteroid belts as you try to take down opposing enemy spacecraft.
When—or should I say, if—these asteroids are equipped with suitable hit detection, the battles that take place in amongst them have the potential to be exhilarating. As it stands now they’re still a lot of fun, if a little samey. I guess that’s the problem with Early Access games—the only way to know whether or not these improvements will eventually be made is to wait until the final build.
With that being said, for an Early Access game Starpoint Gemini 2 is well-polished. There are over 50 different ships to purchase, all of which are fully upgradeable with various weaponry and equipment, and the game’s open-world runs fluidly. Unlike its predecessor, Starpoint Gemini 2 does away with loading screens and “cut-out” maps in favor of one large space sandbox, and while I found the frame rate dipping during my lengthier expeditions, this was an infrequent occurrence.
The real highlight of Starpoint Gemini 2 is the way the developer is handling the production of the game. Developers at Little Green Men have been very active on the Steam forums and the like, listening to fan input and tweaking the game as desired. The game has received various updates since it went into Early Access, and they’re putting a lot of time into responding to feedback. Considering Early Access is swiftly becoming the latest business model to be exploited by many in the gaming industry, it’s a breath of fresh air to see Little Green Men implementing it in a way that is actually improving the game. They deserve a tip of the hat for that.
So if Starpoint Gemini 2 sounds like something you’d be interested in, I’d recommend picking it up and becoming an active member of its community and the developmental process. While I’m still more excited by the prospect of Star Citizen and No Man’s Sky, this is shaping up to be a good game nonetheless, and one with a developer that understands its community. There's no planned release date for the game yet, but more details should be announced as it comes out of Early Access.