Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Space Colony HD Gameplay Review

I'm playing Space Colony HD, a real-time base-building strategy game by Firefly Studios.

The game is actually a re-release of the 2003 title with enhanced graphics, a free upgrade for owners of the original. The campaign mode offers specific objectives and scripted events, and the design of your base carries over to future missions, adding a sense of persistence to the proceedings. The galaxy mode offers a number of single missions with varied starting conditions and objectives, and the sandbox mode starts you out with a bare design and no restrictions or goals. Map and campaign editors are included to expand the game, and the voiced tutorials do a decent job teaching the basics. The interface does have some areas that need improvement: the bridge screen, which displays colonist information, oxygen and power supplies, financial information, and trade controls, should have been incorporated into the main screen (now that there is plenty of room at HD resolutions). The tool-tips are also insufficient: the skill icons specifically are in desperate need of detail when you mouse over them. Your colonists can have any number of nineteen skills, which allows them to run a particular building on your base. They will also need to attend to a number of needs (food, sleep, hygiene, entertainment), some of which may be of more importance to them. Gameplay involves constructing your base to excavate resources and defend against alien attacks, while placing structures to fulfill the various needs of your habitants. More exotic resources can be used to construct enhanced items, such as robot workers or improved medicine, and alien attacks (that will destroy buildings they encounter) will need to be repelled. While Space Colony HD does feel like an old game because of the interface and sprite-based graphics, the colonist needs, varied mission objectives, and chaos during alien battles makes the game a worthy base builder, especially at a friendly price.