The first Space Flight sim I have ever played, and one that has been developed in conjunction with NASA no less. Physics play a huge part of Kerbal Space Program, and it is far more than a simple excursion into the deep dark reaches of space with our little green friends the Kerbals. From the moment you load up the game, you are presented with Story mode, Sandbox and finally Science mode. The game received fantastic reviews upon its PC release. But has it transitioned well onto console? Well, not really. The game has been optimised for keyboard and mouse with the current interface, and not refined for console use. Which is a shame and could potentially put off the more casual gamer among us.
The one problem I found, that again could find gamers aimlessly pressing buttons, is the lack of any in-depth tutorials when you are playing. There are a wide selection of tabs to select, and places to visit within the world of Kerbal Space Program. It has had a lot of effort put into the creation of the final product, but it certainly is a PC friendly game more than Xbox One. I for one don’t own a PC and found the interface hard to get accustomed too. Which spoiled my enjoyment quite a bit. But not as much as when it came to build my rocket ready for launch in Story mode. Items didn’t snap together as I would have hoped, and the end result was what can only be described as the worst attempt at building a rocket you could ever see.
You have to manage your funding and scientific progression through Story mode, as in any management sim you have to keep on top of everything, and aim to send your Kerbals into outer space and start exploring. My first attempt of many had me pressing buttons randomly, unsure of how to even launch my rocket and when I did somehow manage to initiate the launch sequence, saw my pathetic rocket do a re-enactment of the doomed Challenger mission. Maybe, I thought to myself, if I go into Sandbox mode I will fare better, as there will be parameters that I can adjust to make the game simpler to play and gently ease me into the game and how it plays. This much is true as there is so many options that you can manipulate into your favour. But again, I was failing over and over again. This is a downfall in the game design, and one that could prevent sales. Word of mouth can be a persuasive tool. I won’t say don’t buy it, just make sure it is the game for you first.
I was hoping for my foray into this space flight sim to be a less daunting encounter. I rarely play sim games, with the last one I gave any time to being Civilization Revolution on Xbox 360. I have always wanted to play that game, and when I found out that it had been developed specifically with console in mind, it made it a joy to play. The developer should have had the foresight to adapt Kerbal Space Program to consoles and make life less of a random experience. I found this hard, as I have been a console gamer since 1990, and I do find it simple to pick up and play games when compared to PC. One day I will make the jump to PC and learn how to use the mouse and keyboard as efficiently as control pad.
The wealth of options and menus means you will not be rushing through completing every objective in sight. This is not a fast process, and one game that you need to dedicate your time too. Perhaps not one for the casual gamer. But that isn’t to say that it’s strictly for the hardcore sim fan either. You will be spending a lot of time perusing each menu and hoping that everything sinks in to your memory banks. Quite a lot for me to take in, and an overwhelming feeling set in. I would love to have an insane amount of time to invest, but given I have a game backlog the length of my arm, and a family, I wold find it very hard to give Kerbal the time it so deserves for me to fully understand and enjoy what is on offer.
The more you fail, the more you learn about how your rockets work, and how the physics dictate proceedings. A bigger rocket for example, will require more thrust and bigger engines. All logical when you step back and think about it. Certainly not a case of press a button, and watch a cuts scene of your rocket heading to the heavens in your mission to the nearest body within the galaxy. It’s attention to detail that make this game stand out from Kerbal’s simulator counterparts.
There was an issue with frame rate and it did dip a fair bit. But given that I had built something quite abstract, and rather large, it comes as no surprise this happened. So keep a check on how big your build is first. Graphically, it wont set the world alight, but it’s a hardcore physics game, and you don’t need the best graphics. The Kerbals are cute little green beings that remind me of them yellow Minions that kids love.
Music and sound effects are minimal given the nature and genre of the game. I honestly think a musical score would detract and distract from the experience available to you. There is no voice acting, just text-based interactions from your Kerbal friends. Some moments will make you smile, as the text has been written rather well. The controls will take some time to get use too, that is for sure. But master these and you will find an engaging game at your control, and couple that with how many hours you will get from this, and you will have value for money. But at £31.99, is it really worth it? Difficult to call really. Ar you a big simulator fan? Have you got the time to invest into a long-term project such as this? If you can answer yes to these two questions, then you would be a perfect buyer for what is on offer. If you are unsure or said no to one of them, then maybe you should wait for a sale. Or wait until a friend has made a purchase, thus giving you a chance to play it.
Overall, Kerbal Space Program is not for everyone, but for those who love anything to do with outer space, physics and cute aliens, you would be in your element here.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary Microsoft Xbox One code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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