SpaceForce: Rogue Universe review

  • Hot and heavy action
  • Mouse-and-keyboard flight system
  • Sheer number of quests
  • Shallow, repetitive missions
  • Formulaic gameplay
  • Horrific script and voice acting

Space sims may not be as popular today as they were back when Wing Commander ruled the world, but that hasn't stopped developers from continuing to crank out games where you play starfighter heroes. So many of these clones have hit the market in recent years that it's hard to remember who's who. The X series, DarkStar One, and Starshatter: The Gathering Storm could have rolled off the same assembly line.

And now you can add SpaceForce: Rogue Universe to the pile. Everything about this game - from the lead character to the ships to the evil aliens with the hive mind - is so deeply derivative that deja vu sets in during the first mission. Even though Croatian developer Provox Games provides some furious furballs, the game is way too formulaic and awkward.

A Saturday morning cartoon looks like Hamlet in comparison with the story mode saga about space pilot Jim Anderson searching for his sister Jax. The backstory about a human civil war floating around the periphery of Jim's hunt is somewhat intriguing, although the plot is developed just enough to be confusing. The narrative is also burdened with generic stuff like a race of Borg ripoffs and professions like spy and trader, along with scripting and voice-acting so overwrought that they should be classified as crimes against humanity.

You can skip this turgid tale by ditching the plot for side quests or by whipping up a custom character and hitting the spacelanes for but on-the-fly fun in the free mode of play. Yet while avoiding the aforementioned voice-acting atrocities is a big plus, neither option is very appealing due to major mission problems. Provox claims to feature over 2,000 side quests in SpaceForce, but there are just nine assignment types and most of these involve killing bad guys. Variety is so scarce that you're frequently offered the same job in different systems at the same time.

Even when you do have choices, you're generally all dogfight, all the time. This is awfully mind-numbing (in part due to incessant "Curse you, Red Baron!"-style comments from enemy fliers), though not entirely negative because of gorgeous system visuals, dramatic tunes, and reasonably smart enemy AI. Scraps are intense cinematic affairs in front of lava worlds and glowing anomalies, complete with driving techno and foes who show off the game's cool lighting effects by attacking out of the sun. Navigation is also a snap, due to smooth mouse-and-keyboard controls that negate the need for a joystick.

Other aspects of the game are underdeveloped. Trading seems like an afterthought, given the way that dozens of different items are crammed into unsortable menu screens where frozen desserts can be lined up next to nanoelectronics. Diplomacy is a single screen that breaks down relations into percentages. The one nifty idea here is the ability to improve ships by slapping together different materials, but it takes a long time to purchase these items since they're spread over lots of systems.

All in all, SpaceForce: Rogue Universe isn't really a bad game, just a clunky and unimaginative one. Aside from the atrocious voice-acting and story, the game is pretty inoffensive. Still, it's hard to imagine any game less inspired or less original, either, so take that into account, space simmers.

More Info

Release date: May 29 2007 - PC (US)
Jun 22 2007 - PC (UK)
Available Platforms: PC
Genre: Adventure
Published by: DreamCatcher Interactive
Developed by: Provox Games
ESRB Rating:
Teen: Drug Reference, Fantasy Violence, Language
PEGI Rating:

1 comment

  • Empyrean - November 24, 2008 10:40 p.m.

    This game is the biggest disappointment to me. It might be because I have high standards, but to me, this game is awful. You gave waaaay to much points for it.

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