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SpaceForce: Rogue Universe

#1
Anybody knows it?

Waiting for LT I'm finding SpaceForce: Rogue Universe a fun game.
It is a Freelancer-like with less emphasis on trading goods and more on combat and ship upgrades. The game is tougher than Freelancer ever was.

Graphics-wise it is very good looking (plenty of screenshots on the www). The sound department gets the job done decently. The musical scores are very nice instead, though the music volume defaults to high (do your ears a favor and tone it down from the start).

Controls are customizable. Not too many keybindings are present. The best control method is no doubt keyboard & mouse. In combat you will make frequent + sharp + precise turns, and a joystick may not grant you the same mobility and precision that a mouse does. Joysticks are supported anyway.

The game has many strong points... but still it was not a big success.
This was because of three problems: a very bad voice acting, an uninspired plot, and the lack of a tutorial to teach you how the basics.
These problems conbined made for a poor frontend with which the game presented itself, and most people were discouraged from looking past it. On one hand I cannot blame them... on the other hand they will never know what they so easily passed on.

The lack of a tutorial especially lead many to claim that the game has a steep learning curve.
I disagree.
I think most of 'em blindly repeated a statement heard from the proverbial guy that knows the cousin of a friend of theirs.
Many gameplay mechanics will be familiar to you, because known from other games in the genre. Other game mechanics will be so self-explanatory that a tutorial would be an insult to your intellect (come on, have a laugh and watch this on youtube: If Quake was done today). And the rest -the "advanced" topics- will eventually come to you as you play. There is no steep learning curve here.

The game features two modes of play: Story mode and Free-Roam mode. You will probably start the Story mode only to abandon it within the hour and jump straight into Free-Roam. That is where the game shines.

The galaxy features about 50 star systems, each mostly ruled by this or that 1 of 11 civilizations (factions, if your prefer), with the exception of the "independent" systems which belong to nobody.
You can buy new ships, though they are expensive, and you can take on randomly generated quests (jobs, really) in order to cash some money fast.
There never is a shortage of quests, but you should pay attention who you decide to work for and what you are required to do where. Your actions will directly affect your standing with the factions. Just like in Freelancer you may turn enemies into friends and friends into enemies. Unlike in Freelancer, however, it is much easier to make new enemies than it is to make friends. You will have to work if you want to maintain a good standing with the factions you care about.
Anytime, you are free to explore and recover useful materials from space debris, or directly mine them from asteroids. Materials can then be sold or used to craft (manufacture, more likely) precious enhancement modules to install on your ship.
You may also try your luck at hacking a structure to try and steal their money. But if they catch you...

Combat is a very solid aspect of the game. Ships have different combination types of ship platings and energy shields. Each civilization will use specific combos for its own ships. No single weapon will prove effective against all possible plating/shield type combos, and making use of the right weapon against the right foe becomes critical for success, and ultimately survival.

Should you find yourself with the wrong weapon, even a 1-on-1 engagement could drag on for a long time. Know that the AI is instructed to leave you be in case you manage to outrun them. Fleeing is no shameful resolution to problems in this game. The AI itself may try to escape should you overpower it.
You may also "flee" to lure your foes closer to your allies, which would then come to your aid. Know that the AI plays smart and may attempt to do the same.

Exploration is a strong part of the gameplay. Each sector is dotted with places of interest. There is always something worth your attention, be it a cluster of debris (from which you can extract precious materials), an uncharted gate to an unknown sector, a space structure (not necessarily a station) that offers services you may want to take advantage of...

There also is a sort of treasure hunt. Scattered throughout the galaxy are 18 unique objects that, once assembled, grant you access to 2 powerful technologies that can give you a serious edge over the enemy.

This is not meant to be a review of the game, so I stop here. But there is -objectively- a lot of meat in the gameplay formula of SpaceForce: Rogue Universe.

The game requires directx 9.0c. Its system requirements are low for today standards (game is from 2007). It works perfectly in Windows 7, out of the box (I do not know about Windows 8.x, sorry). Just download the (latest) patch 1.2 which fixes a few bugs (original game website is still up and running).


APPENDIX:
Here are three important tips to remember (if you choose to play the game). They may spare you an undeserved headache.
1) To interact with Satellites you must use the DOCK command (default keybind is the 'Enter' key). The game does not tell you this and it may lead to very frustrating minutes before finding out.
2) All interactive structures will have a specific point of interest you are meant to get close to (easy to find). However, Satellites have _no_ such thing. You may approach them from any angle, but you will have to get very close to their hull (below the 175 units of distance).
3) Only the Satellites marked by a quest are interactive. All other Satellites will be inert.

Oh, let us add a fourth precious tip.
4) The more goods you hold in your cargo bay, the heavier your ship becomes, and the slower your ship turns. In combat this makes the difference between pointing your guns at the target, and having the enemy run circles around you. Do not be a packrat from the beginning. You need ship upgrades before you can fight effectively with a heavy load.

[edited: I reworked some text]

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