It was always going to be a tall order for an unknown indie developer to steal the solid dilithium crown from Sins of a Solar Empire and developer SaintXi has failed to do so. It%26rsquo;s easy to forget that this is an indie release, as there%26rsquo;s a lot of depth to it and clearly thought has been put into trying to create a believable backdrop to the planet-twirling strategy.
The gameplay revolves around the colonisation of planets, with the main single-player experience gradually easing you into how things work, planet by planet. You start off with Earth%26rsquo;s moon and you%26rsquo;re given a very limited number of constructions to plonk down on its surface. As you progress through the levels, story elements intrude on the plonking, informing you of events back home, which lead to missions offering you different options later on, such as the ability to control other factions.
The main problem is that your worlds can get cluttered extremely easily and while the interface is good at helping you locate troublesome areas quickly, it doesn%26rsquo;t do a slick enough job. Zoom settings aren%26rsquo;t sophisticated enough, meaning you%26rsquo;ll often be zoomed too far out or too close in. The combat isn%26rsquo;t exactly thrilling either.
There certainly is enough material here to justify the very reasonable price, but it retains an indie feel %26ndash; everything is big and clunky. What it does well is guide you in slowly, never overwhelming you with information or tasks. However, a bit more transparency in terms of why you are or aren%26rsquo;t making money and a polishing of all the rough edges would improve things. So while Lights of Altair is good, it%26rsquo;s far from great.
Jun 30, 2009