Back in the far off time of 2009, Positech Games released the indie hit Gratuitous Space Battles. Its large scale intergalactic warfare, pretty graphics and unique gameplay was enough to draw in gamers far and wide. Despite all of this flare, is the game any good?
For starters, I am not 100% sure what GSB is. Is it a strategy game? Kind of. Is it an RPG? Well it does have some RPG features. Is it a puzzle game? In some regards, yes. The list of things it kind of is, is kind of endless. But to put it simply, GSB is all about planning and watching things go boom.
GSB has an immensely deep ship creation tool, and if you want to get anywhere in life you are going to want to visit it as soon as possible to replace the stock tutorial ships. Ships are split into 3 types, small nimble FIghters, medium sized Frigates and massively powerful Cruisers. How you build your ships is up to you. Do you want a small fleet of fighters to dogfight with other fighters to keep your larger ships safe? Or do you want to dedicate some subsystems on your larger ships for anti-fighter duty? Do you want your ships to be difficult to destroy with strong shields and thick armour, or completely loaded up with weapon systems to blast the enemy out of the ‘sky’. The choice is yours, and by the end of game you will have hundreds of ship variants at your disposal to tackle each missions unique problems.
Of course, you don’t have access to all the systems and various ship hulls straight away. You get Honor for completing missions, and this can be spent on new equipment such as Multiphasic Shielding, Ultra Light Armour Plating, Repair Systems and Nuclear Warheads to name a few. So naturally, as you progress you will be refitting old ships, and creating new ones to fit the mission at hand. As you might guess, the majority of the game is spent in this section, as without the right ships you are not going to get very far.
So, what do you do when you have your fleet, and you have started a mission? Well you watch them duke it out. And to be honest, that is all you can do. Whilst exciting to see your fleet clash with enemies at first, having nothing to do but watch does get kind of tiresome after a while. Luckily the graphics are great, mainly due to the really strong art style.
To test your skills as a fleet commander, you can hop online and try to beat enemy fleets using the Challenge system, or post your own fleet for others to beat. It is a highly competitive area, so only the strongest will survive. To extend your play time, there are also a plethora of DLC expansion packs which add new missions and new races to the original 3, letting you build dozens of unique fleets, and tackle missions with new tactics.
To some, GSB will sound like a total bore, as it is not so much a game, it is more of a design tool filled with mathematics. Missile A is better than Missile B, but is it better than Laser C? That is for you to decide. If this level of tactical planning is up your street, then you should really check this out. A truly unique experience.