Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Ancient Space Gameplay Review

I'm playing Ancient Space, a real-time strategy game by Creative Forge and Paradox Interactive.

The single-player-only game features a campaign with outrageous difficulty (even on the lowest setting) due to the sheer number of enemy ships in each scenario; you cannot skip missions and single scenarios are locked until you defeat them. Units and attributes can be upgraded between missions, and officers can activate special abilities during a mission. The three “skirmish” modes aren’t really actual skirmishes, simply placing you against superior enemy numbers just like in the campaign. The interface becomes problematic: while a nifty list displays your entire fleet, the unit icons are too small and selecting appropriate ships quickly to respond to an incoming threat is difficult. Confusing camera controls and inconsistent mouse wheel zooming also complicate things. Fixed space station locations can be captured to accumulate resources and increase the population cap, and then outfit with a defensive or support structure. Resources can be spent to unlock new technology tiers, although the roster of units is limited and units are only effective against specific sizes. The AI benefits from sheer numbers, rarely throwing a well-organized assault at you; friendly units also have issues engaging nearby enemies after their current target is destroyed. Ancient Space offers low value due to the lack of a true skirmish mode, limitations of the interface and AI, unwavering unit counters, limited base construction options, and the repetitively unfair design of the linear campaign.