Star Wolves Review
|Publisher:||Excalibur Publishing and 1C Company|
|Genre:||RPG / Action|
|Official Site:||Star Wolves|
|Release Date:||Febuary 25th, 2005|
|Reviewer:||Craig Dudley (Mani)|
|Buy now at Amazon|
Ah space games, I haven't seen all that many recently which is a shame, there was a time when we either got a good X-Wing game or even a Wing Commander game every year, I've missed them. Even so, I have to admit that I was a little sceptical about Star Wolves, an RPG in space? Hmm. Well I guess it makes a change from poking elves and the like with sharp objects that have stupid names.
Graphically Star Wolves is everything you'd expect from a modern 3D space game, the ships look great and you can even see which weapon any ship is using if you zoom in close enough. Most of the backdrops would seem to be high res imagery from real observatories and as such are great to look at, the various other bits and pieces like asteroids and stations are also impressive.
Weapon effects and explosions are also up to scratch, I can't really pick any faults with the games' graphics. Effective and functional is perhaps a little harsh, because it does look good but eye candy is not really Star Wolves' forte.
Sound doesn't actually travel through space so talking about sound effects in a space game is perhaps a little bit silly, but hey, it's only a game. Each type of weapon does have it's own distinctive noise and they are probably what you'd expect, clear, crisp and effective. The voices of you characters are not used that much, certainly not enough to get annoying.
The music is good if a little repetitive, it has a sort of retro 70's guitar vibe to it that I really liked. A few more tracks would definitely have been good though.
Star Wolves is described by it's developers as having 'Original blend of tactical and action game play' and it's probably a pretty fair assessment, throw in a basic RPG character building system, add a believable and involved plot and you have one very enjoyable game.
If you look at each of the games' facets in isolation then we really miss the point with this title. It's neither a full on action shooter or has all the depth you might expect from a modern RPG, it does however work quite well. You'll need to use your pilots experience points wisely, pair them up with the right equipment for their skills and use them in small teams or wings at the right times in order to succeed. It's therefore not easy and can indeed be a little frustrating at times.
Any game like this need lots of options, and fortunately we get plenty, lots of different fighters with different armour, speed and weapon slots, then a myriad weapons with differing power, rate of fire and accuracy, the pilots in your team will also prefer certain types of weapon and will get a bonus while using that type. Various other efficiency bonuses are given for pilots skills which you choose while using your experience points.
Your mother ship 'Star Wolf' can also be upgraded with enhanced weaponry and systems along the way, indeed to do well, you will need to use Star Wolf to do a lot of fighting.
Your team of pilots will have to take on an complete various missions that are available from a news screen when docked, also available are various news stories and letters from your crew and potential employers, this is all fairly standard stuff but does give you some handy information as well as adding to the sense of depth. My only real gripe with gameplay is that there is often a lack of choice here, a few more forks in the plot line would have helped. Still, the 40+ missions will take a long time to complete, you won't be finishing Star Wolves in 2 days.
While Star Wolves does have lot of elements, battle tactics are the most important in my opinion, your scanner will be able to detect which types of ships you are up against long before they are in range, this should give you time to arrange your ships into wings and assign them targets (can be done while paused). While in a wing, each pilot can be given a specific task, attack, defend, missile defence, stealth or repair. Getting this right is the important thing, for example, if you're being attacked by missile carrying gunboats it's clear you should have a pilot who is experienced in anti-missile systems in the missile defence role, until the enemy has fired his missiles at least.
Star Wolves is highly addictive as I can personally testify, I simply haven't been able to stop playing it for the past few weeks. The bold mix of RPG, action and strategy elements are probably what make Star Wolves so compelling but it's probably not a brilliant RPG, action or strategy game, Star Wolves is more than the sum of it's parts. I guess it's a classic story of a game that doesn't really fit into any single mould. X-bow dared to be different, and while they didn't get everything right, they did produce a very good game.
Initially the game is quite hard to play, I guess there's about a 45 minute learning curve, 2 runs through the demo should be as much as you need but it's definitely worth sticking with. As with any game, I do suggest you try the demo.
Star Wolves is a solid and generally enjoyable game, if a little frustrating at times. If you're not careful it will make you it's slave. Now if you'll excuse me, I have pirates and aliens to shoot.
- Highly addictive
- Good sound and music
- Impressive graphics
- Lots of missions
- Plenty of ships and weapons
Not so good stuff
- Steep initial learning curve
- Can be frustratingly hard at times
- A little bit linear
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