Space Colony PC CD-ROM
Developed by Firefly Studios
Released: Out Now
The year is 2153 and with Earth no longer 'economically viable' it's time to look for other planets to make a profit from. It's a space dog eat space dog galaxy out there though and everyone has got the same idea, so you'll come up against some stiff competition. You work for Blackwater Industries and planetary colonisation is the name of the game in Space Colony. It appears to be similar to Startopia in nature but it's rather like a cross between Theme Hospital and The Sims in that it concentrates on personalities and small scale operations. It's wacky, it's crazy and it's very addictive. It's time for our review of Space Colony.
Space Colony is made up of a campaign mode, a galaxy mode and a sandbox mode. At this point in the review we usually say that the heart of the game is the campaign mode but that isn't really true of Space Colony. The campaign follows the story of Venus Jones. The campaign is the best place to start because it introduces you to the concepts that exist within the game and takes over where the tutorial finishes off. Once you're done with the campaign, you'll want to try the galaxy mode. The galaxy mode contains 16 planets for to play on and each one has a particular problem that you'll have to sort out such as a virus or a litter problem. Each planet has it's own difficulty level so there should be something here to challenge everyone. Once you've had your fill in galaxy mode, you can either play a sandbox game or have a dabble with the campaign and planet editors to create your own games. One thing is for sure, Space Colony is going to last you quite a long time. The only downside to the game is that there is no multiplayer element but the size of the single-player game more than makes up for it.
Of course we've all played resource management games and are probably looking for something different. Space Colony places just as much emphasis on the relationships and attitudes of it's characters as it does on the resource side of things. In all, the game has 20 different characters each with their own characteristics and desires. We've already mentioned Venus but you also have Tami La Belle, Daisy Willowreed, Stig Svensson, Babette Devereux and Nailer McBride to name but a few. All of these characters are very different from each other. Tami is an alcoholic whilst Daisy is a hippy and Stig is a hard working biker. Of course with such a collection of personalities there is always going to be friction and it's your job to make things run as smoothly as possible because if your employees are at each others throats you are not going to get a well run space colony, now are you?
Each of your characters has several needs that need satisfying. Happiness, finances, entertainment, social interaction, hunger, tiredness, cleanliness and health are all needs that have to be dealt with. Some of these needs are easily satisfied. Tiredness for instance can be satisfied by simply providing a bed for the character but try satisfying the social interaction when the character in question hates all of their present company. Thankfully Firefly have included 100 objects that can be built to help please all of the characters, well most of them anyway. Relaxation pods, libraries, jacuzzis, gym facilities and much, much more can be built to help put a smile on the face of the characters in the game.
Because of the attention you'll be putting on the characters within the game you'd be forgiven for thinking that Firefly might actually have cut down on the base building side of the game but you'd be wrong. As well as maintaining the power, oxygen and food for your characters (not to forget money) you'll also have to collect resources, keep back the unwanted attention you'll get from the nasty looking indigenous species and keep tourists happy. This could of course all become a nightmare but whilst the game does get very challenging at no point do you simply want to pack it all in, which is a sign that above all Space Colony is a very enjoyable game.
Graphically Firefly have gone for the 2D isometric look and even in these days of 256MB 3D graphics cards it still looks good. The characters are quite large, which again is unusual for a game of this nature. I think Theme Hospital was the last 2D game of this nature to use such large characters but in all honesty the game is full of charm and the graphics really suit it. Even if you still happen to be unlucky enough to have a 2D graphics card you'll be absolutely fine (as long as it has 4MB or more memory) which is more than you can say for most games out there.
The game is not fully subtitled. You get the mission briefings in text (and these can be recalled at any time) and you also have access to text hints at any time. The game uses icons to relay information and the needs of your characters are displayed by bars that clearly indicate when something needs your attention. However the characters actually give out a decent amount of hints verbally and you have little messages from them from time to time and these are not subtitled. It's fair to say that a hearing gamer will benefit from these hints, whereas a deaf gamer will be unaware of not only these hints but also what the characters are saying to each other as this isn't subtitled either. It doesn't spoil the game for a deaf gamer but it takes the shine of it somewhat and that is unfortunate.
Space Colony is a game that most people will enjoy. However, as mentioned above there are some omissions for deaf gamers and these do take away from the game somewhat. It's still enjoyable without the verbal content but things will seem slightly more difficult. Firefly have created a wacky but enjoyable experience with Space Colony and it's a shame that deaf gamers cannot experience it to the full in the same way as a hearing gamer can. If subtitles had been added for the character messages and conversations, then our rating would have been higher.
Game Rating: 7.0/10
An unusual but enjoyable game that despite the few problems for deaf gamers is still worth many hours of your time.
Character messages and conversations are not subtitled and this takes away some of the charm of the game and increases the difficulty a notch for deaf gamers.