Welcome to a world of space pirates, commodities and large open galaxies, full of planets for you to take control of. Welcome to Star Ruler, a large scale, real-time grand strategy RTS set in space, where you take command of a vast interstellar empire and safeguard your species from total extinction in a procedurally generated 3D galaxy that is full of drunken pirates and lots of commodities to mine and trade. Welcome to a universe like you have never played before, Star Ruler is a true masterpiece for those hardcore real-time strategy fans.
My first impressions of Star Ruler were very overwhelming. Although the graphics were lovely, the planets and animation are superb and give you a great feeling of actually being in space. The game looked very complicated. This is not a game you can pick up and be an expert at within an hour. This is a game for those people who like to be tested and have plenty of time to learn all there is to know about this new universe we are faced with. As I have already mentioned, this game is based around the idea of colonising new planets and trading or fighting between different species who have colonised various planets scattered around this virtual universe. My first thoughts apart from the very steep learning curve, were that of the game ‘Elite’ from the 1984 that many of us played in our youth. The concept of Star Ruler has a pretty similar concept to it. However Star Ruler is much more in depth and there is much to learn.
The very first thing I did was to start the tutorial. The first thing you are faced with here, is a view of some spaceships and a window with your instructions on how to proceed. Here you are instructed on how to do the usual things you find in these types of games. You are told how to move the camera angle, rotate the map, select ships, all the usual things. Then, the game gets complicated and you soon realise this is not going to be a short ten minute tutorial. There is so much to learn as you are instructed to colonise planets, fight drunken pirates who are trying to steal the planets from you along with any minerals etc that are there. You have to build new ships and equip them with better weapons, more power etc. I have to admit, after playing the tutorial for over an hour, I was struggling to remember everything I was being told. Therefore, I had to resort to actually taking notes during this process. This has to be the most in-depth and complicated RTS I have played in a very long time. However, I will say it is a great game if you like a challenge and you enjoy these types of games. This is no Red Alert in space, this is a true strategy game.
The interface you are presented with is pretty simple at first. You have a view of space and some planets. You are faced with various ship types, these include transporters, fighters and scouts to name a few. You trade and issue orders all by using your mouse. There are very few times you use the keyboard. The only times I found myself using it was to set various quantities of ships to build and trade amounts etc. You pretty much play the whole game by opening windows that show all your main option. One feature I quite liked, were the blueprints. These allow you to design and build brand new ships and edit existing ones. You are faced with what they call a layout circle that represents the interior of your ship, seen from above. You can place subsystems in the circle to determine their position in the ship. Every blueprint in the game has an assigned circle. Bigger ships will have much higher stats and fare better at many tasks, but will also be more expensive to build until you eventually reachmega-construction technology (technology being something that you research and gain more knowledge of as you trade commodities and research things). There are so many different areas that make up Star Ruler that I could not possible list them all here, otherwise you would be very bored.
There is a multiplayer aspect to the game, where you are all in the same universe but now play with, and, more importantly, against other players. I did try this a few times, but each time I was attacked and wiped out pretty quick. I also found there are not too many people actually playing yet so my choice of servers to join was very limited.
I have to say that after struggling for a few hours, you slowly start to gain a grasp on what to do, and this is when you start to really enjoy Star Ruler. The guys that made this game are geniuses, there is so much detail and so much to do in STar Ruler’s massive, open world sandbox even though there is no real story line to follow. Every move is up to you, you attack, you defend and, eventually, you really do have the option to take over the universe and reap the benefits. Soon you find yourself wanting to gain control of everything and that brings the evil side out of you. The only warning I would give anyone with this game is don’t expect to be an expert after a few hours gameplay, I have played it for about 20 hours so far and still have loads to learn. It is a complicated game at first, but if you persist, you really start to see the rewards Star Ruler has to offer.
REVIEW CODE: A complimentary PC code was provided to Bonus Stage for this review. Please send all review code enquiries to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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Gameplay - /10
Graphics - /10
Sound - /10
Replay Value - /10