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.