Friday, November 30, 2012

Miner Wars 2081 Gameplay Review

I'm playing Miner Wars 2081, a space adventure game by Keen Software House.

The campaign involves thirty-one scripted, action-heavy missions where you must fight the enemies that lie between you and an objective in impressively detailed levels. Missions are unfairly difficult (you are always greatly outnumbered by equally-powerful ships) and the save checkpoints are infrequent enough to be noticeable (long load times add to the frustration). You can play any of the missions cooperatively online, although this functionality has been hit-or-miss for me. Deathmatch is also possible, although I never observed anyone partaking in competitive games. The game’s physics are responsive (unrealistically quick deceleration) and the controls are intuitive using the mouse and keyboard. The HUD labels nearby ships and objects and displays a path towards the next objective, but lacks a futuristic sheen. The different ship types can fire a variety of weapons (mines, bombs, machine guns, missiles) and drones to attack the enemy. You can also drill into any of the game’s destructible asteroids and harvest rare resources, or take direct control of mounted turrets if needed. Ship armor and health depletes very quickly (thanks to numerous, deadly accurate enemy units), and ammunition stocks and oxygen supplies need to be replenished frequently (more often than there are pick-ups, of course). The persistent destructible levels honestly do little to enhance the fairly standard action-oriented gameplay: you don’t notice the asteroids slowly degrading when being repeatedly destroyed by the overwhelming force of the enemy. The linear mission design, unfair difficulty, and repetitive battles of Miner Wars 2081 make the game an also-ran in the realm of space adventure titles.