These days one of the only ways to play a game set in space is if you want to suit up as Commander Shepard or as the Vasari in Sins of a Solar Empire or pick up your plasma cutter and get ready to kill some necromorphs. A larger portion of space games do focus on the RTS genre, but if you look at the big game releases space is a dying environment that only gets to the masses through the larger Mass Effect and Dead Space style games, leaving the X3 series trailing behind in the dust for any remaining PC gamers.
Well there's a new Real-time strategy title soon to hit the shelves that has gone so deep into the setting of Science-Fiction that it'll be hard for sci-fi aficionados not to pick it up.
Camel101 have been spending the past two years crafting their newest game Gemini Wars; a space RTS set within a distant star system. Gemini Wars promises an engaging single player campaign that spans over 20 hours across it's sixteen missions, some lasting hours to complete, but with a good save system it's easy to save a fight and come back later if you've had a large enough injection of space in one sitting.
Being an independent game that is developed all over the world with what we can presume is a reasonable budget, you would presume like most independent games that it features some cheesy voice acting from the development team and their friends. However Camel101 have gone a step up and have spent a lot of time on hiring actors and actresses for the voice overs, trying to create a more atmospheric and audibly pleasing game, it really does make a difference.
Gemini Wars’ best selling point to me is that it's a space RTS that doesn't involve as much micromanagement as every other RTS out there. This means it weighs you down less and gives you more time on focusing on the battles and where you send your fleet, as opposed to darting back to your bases to upgrade their components while trying to build and army that's good enough and keep an eye on your opponents. There is still a base level of management though; all ships you control have their own levels of XP with a maximum of 5 levels which allow you to level up a strong army based from your battles. This also makes repairing your ships an important choice as it then allows you to have the strongest fleet in town. However don't get too attached to your men as to make the game balanced the XP and ships you have control of will change on a mission by mission basis.
With the removal of some micromanagement systems that you'd be used to seeing they've added battles that can actively happen across star systems, requiring you to build stargates that act as a portal while you fight your opponents in two or even three systems simultaneously. This feature adds a great sense of depth, while also adding the looming fear of your stargate being destroyed. As if they're gone you're stuck, and they're pretty expensive to build. With the possibility of traveling such vast distances, the maps in Gemini Wars are fairly substantial, so much that you will want to use your hyperdrives to get to locations faster, but they aren't unlimited so you will have to move at a standard speed sometimes. However I don't see anything wrong with watching ships drifting through space, there's something very relaxing about it all.
If you're a fan of science fiction you'll notice many nods to the greats out there, not only having been inspired by other space Real-time strategy games, but also in the designs of the space crafts and characters. The most memorable being while watching a carrier let out a small fleet of smaller ships it'll make you want to later watch an episode of Battlestar Galactica. Plus with the battle cam you'll feel right in the action watching your ships shoot away at the enemies which feels extremely satisfying.
Gemini Wars has a great community behind it that have been communicating with Camel101 throughout development, suggesting the best of ideas that would make the game even greater. This ranges from targeting a certain weak spot on a battleship, destroyed ships blow into pieces or even the battle cam itself. All of these features have helped add to the action and atmosphere of this interesting game, while also making it more appealing to fans and new players out there.
Ricardo of Camel101 also mentioned that if they have the chance to, they would love to expand the Gemini Wars universe and story into further games, perhaps expanding out of the real-time strategy genre into other game types. That way appealing to a larger variety of gamers and introducing them to the events taking place in the Gemini Sector.
Gemini Wars has a release date of June 8th on Windows and Macintosh via digital distribution and also through retail in a nicely presented special edition that comes bundled with a comic offering more backstory into the main protagonist; Captain Cole. I can't wait to have a play on the final game and get my hands dirty in some epic sci-fi action so keep an eye out for our review in June.