Sword of the Stars Preview PC CD-ROM
Published by Lighthouse Interactive
Developed by Kerberos
Release Date: September '06
Space Empire building games are not a common occurrence these days, at least good ones aren't. Earlier this year we reviewed Galactic Civilizations II which was a hugely impressive game but you'd have to go back a long way before that to find a game that was worth the asking price. Sword of the Stars, releasing in early September, is attempting to be a space empire building game with a difference and from what we've played it certainly looks like it's going to be quite different from other titles in the genre.
So what's different about the game then? Well the main difference is that Sword of the Stars offers turn-based empire building and real-time battles. This mix of turn-based and real-time has worked excellently for the Total War series so it's good to see this formula being used again. The turn-based strategic portion of the game is nowhere near as in depth as what you'd find in Galactic Civilizations II but whilst this is a decision that will undoubtedly nark some, it's a decision that will make the game more accessible to those who think games such as Gal Civ II are too complex. You still get to carry out research (there's 150 different technologies in the game), design and build spacecraft, trade and form alliances. The game has four playable races, Humans, Hiver, Tarkas and Liir and each has their own technology advantages and disadvantages. Random events can also be enabled to add variation to the game. As well as having a variety of scenario based campaigns and a custom game creator you can also play online or over a LAN with up to 7 others.
Sword of the Stars is being developed by new developers, Kerberos. The development team can certainly boast a lot of experience though as they consist of developers who were responsible for Homeworld: Cataclysm amongst other strategy titles. The Homeworld influence is noticeable in the game with fully zoomable 3D environments and the style of the real-time conflicts is similar to the ones found in the Homeworld games which should please a lot of gamers as the Homeworld games were impressive. It's worth mentioning that most battles are resolved fairly quickly so the battles won't harm the pace of the game which is good to see.
All things considered then, Sword of the Stars is looking promising. What we would say at the moment though is that we hope the final game caters for deaf gamers because our preview build could have been better. The intro movie wasn't subtitled and all verbal content in the main game wasn't subtitled. There wasn't even an option to enable subtitles. Tutorial messages were in text and mission descriptions, rules and objections were given in text too. Let's hope the omissions have all been put right by the time the game releases in early September.