Gratuitous Space Battles
I’ve lost count as to how many games I’ve played that involve both space and “pew pew”, though rarely do I come across a game that allows me to customize my own fleet and send them headlong into battle, without having to wade through the process of building a successful economy first. In “Gratuitous Space Battles”, you pick loadouts for your ships, assign formations, and watch the fireworks. It’s a very simplistic process, but I found it to be engaging nonetheless.
The main menu lets you participate in a battle, design ships, register online, buy ship models and upgrades, view the manual, and adjust game options. The options menu lets you change your screen resolution and toggle a number of different features, including fullscreen, various graphical effects, and more.
As I explained above, the flow of the game is very straight forward. You’ll be able to choose a scenario (the ones you’ve unlocked via progression), assign ships during the fleet assembly stage, and send them on their merry way. You are limited each mission on what you can bring to the battle as indicated by the maximum cost value on the top of the fleet assembly screen. The better the ship, the higher its cost value. This opens the door for a lot of different possibilities, as you could bring half a dozen battle cruisers to the fight or stick to a bunch of smaller, but weaker, fighters and cruisers.
When the game first released, you were unable to control the ships mid-battle. You were simply there to observe the results of your planning, which I honestly didn’t mind. Since the game’s release, a check box was added that lets you control the ships a bit more directly, but you won’t earn challenge or high score postings. Engagements can take a while, fortunately you are able to speed up time and have a battle over within a minute or two. Of course, this may hamper your ability to see what went wrong should you fail.
After successfully winning an engagement, you’ll be awarded with honor points. The less you brought to the battle, the more honor points you’ll earn. This encourages players to find efficient ship designs and fleet layouts, as the more honor points they have, the more weapons they can buy via the Fleet HQ menu. The Fleet HQ menu contains all sorts of different weapons and upgrades. Some weapons are laser based that fire both quickly and slowly, while other weapons are missile and torpedo based. I’ve spent hours looking at all of the different items and their varying statistics.
To accommodate all of the weapons and ship components you can buy is a ship editor. While you won’t be able to design your ship from scratch in terms of hull and design, you can assign ship components at will and on different areas of the ship. You’ll have to account for power, crew, engine thrust, shields, hull, offensive armaments, and more.
Overall, “Gratuitous Space Battles” is a fun game that is definitely worth a download. The space battles are satisfying, despite the player not being able to control it under normal circumstances. I bought the game cheap while it was in the Beta on Impulse (now GameStop), though I believe it has since been added to Steam for about fifteen bucks. There’s a demo should you wish to try before you buy.
Final Verdict: 8/10
You can see video play sessions here: