Galactic Arms Race
I normally start out my reviews with some sort of blast from the past story, helping the reader draw comparisons between games that might be familiar to them and the one I’m reviewing. This time around, I admit I’m having a bit of trouble comparing this game to ones I’ve played in the past (which is a good thing). “Space Pirates and Zombies” comes to mind, but is still a bit different in terms of gameplay. “Galactic Arms Race” has action RPG elements, features an open world mechanic, and is set in space. Oh sure…I’ve logged a lot of hours into games like “Diablo III” and “Freelancer”, but I’m happy to report that “Galactic Arms Race” threw something completely new in my direction to keep me on my toes. The question remains, “does different mean good?” Before we get started looking at this game in detail, I’d like to thank Erin Hastings from Evolutionary Games for sending me a free review copy.
The main menu allows the player to play single or multiplayer games, view an introduction of the game along with some basic instructions, adjust game options, and view your current version. The options menu covers your basics like screen resolution, fullscreen toggle, sound sliders, and various graphics settings. The ability to rebind your keys (in-game) and reset your player profiles is present, which is appreciated. There are also buttons on the main menu that will link you to the official website & forums, the game’s Facebook page, and the dedicated server download page.
The game will assign you a series of quests when you first start a single player campaign, though the quests are mainly there to give you an idea as to how the mechanics and interface function. You’ll still earn a sizable reward for completing them, so I’d recommend doing them even as you get better at the game. The interface is fairly straightforward and composed of different menus /panels that serve to help you interact with the environment and keep you informed as to what is going on around you. The leftmost panel along the bottom of the screen helps the player keep track of their progress in the game, including things like experience earned, number of kills, how many credits (currency) they have, shield/hull strength, and etc. To the right of that panel is a quick list of your weapon slots and buttons that allow you to change the direction they fire in relation to your cursor. To the right of that is a target display (right mouse click to target), and finally on the end is a viewable local system map. Above all of these panels are buttons that allow you to access various menus and toggle things on and off. You’ll be able to access your galaxy map, missions, and help menus from here, among other things. There’s also a single player defense mode where you’ll fight off enemies for five minutes, should you wish to take a break from the campaign.
In terms of gameplay, you’ll start the game at the lowest rank and level up by completing missions and killing stuff (max level 200), which allows you to then access different areas of your galaxy map. The enemies become harder as you enter new areas, which means that you’ll have to improve your ship as you go. The game allows you to buy new ships, mods, and other goodies with the credits you earn to make yourself a bit more formidable. You’ll also have the opportunity to repair your ship, sell and mutate weapons, and buy friendly drones that serve to fight for you. Most of these things can be done by docking at a friendly station. To sum up gameplay, you’ll fly around, shoot stuff, earn credits, complete missions, shoot more stuff, earn more credits, evolve weapons, buy new stuff, level up, and so on and so forth and not necessarily in that order. Those of you who have played action RPGs before know the drill, though new players to the genre will be able to ease into it and hopefully enjoy the experience in the process.
One of the most interesting game mechanics (I feel) has to be the way your weapons evolve over a period of time. The game actually keeps track of what weapons you fire the most, then creates new weapons based on their characteristics. This mechanic provides players with different experiences with each new game they play, as a weapon in one game might evolve totally different than from the one in the game previous. Not only does this keep the game interesting, but it allows you to evolve weapons based on your personal preferences. I honestly don’t know many other games (if any) that allow players to evolve new combinations of weapons based on the ones they like to use. This is highly intuitive in my opinion and quite a welcome feature.
If multiplayer is more your thing, you’ll be able to host your own server by downloading a standalone client (link at the end of this article). Whether you host or simply join an existing server, up to thirty-two players will be able to participate in either co-op or PVP zones. The game’s mechanics operate much the same way as they do in single player with some minor differences, like the ability to see other players and their locations on the galaxy map. Some systems encourage cooperative play while others have friendly fire enabled permanently (star systems designed for players of level forty or above). Players will be able to team up in squadrons so that their weapons don’t hurt each other in these systems, however. A special “arena” system is available, should players simply just want somewhere to meet with the intent on blowing each other up. From where I’m sitting, all of this is quite an impressive feat and ideal for groups of friends or guilds looking to unwind on a Friday night. Your multiplayer character will save its progress on the Steam Cloud, allowing you to retain your progress across different servers.
When it comes down to it, “Galactic Arms Race” is fresh, exciting, and a heck of a lot of fun. The gameplay mechanics are simple enough to learn, making the game accessible to players of all types. The weapon evolution system keeps thing interesting for the player while at the same time adapts to their prefered play style. The graphics are pretty and the music is catchy, even though I’m not all that into techno. Multiplayer was incredibly easy to set up, which says a lot for those of you who know my (pitiful) level of technical skill with servers and etc. Anthony (16), who is part of “Dad’s Review Crew”, helped me to review this game and enjoyed his time with it. I did have to port forward to get others to play through my router, which can be a difficult process for those of you not familiar with it. For the amount of content that the game offers, I find its price tag of $4.99 (as of 1/16/13) to be more than fair. Whether you’re a “Diablo III” addict or just looking to “pew pew” stuff in open space, this game will fit the bill nicely. To put it plainly, I highly recommend this game. It’s important to note that the game requires Steam to play, despite purchasing the game from Desura or from the official site. For those of you not yet onboard the Steam train, not to worry, it’s free and easy to use.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can learn more about and purchase “Galactic Arms Race” by visiting the following websites:
You can download the dedicated server client here:
You can help bring the game to Steam by voting for it on its Greenlight page, here:
You can view video play sessions here: