reviews\ Apr 25, 2010 at 8:00 pm

Infinite Space DS Review - - Review


Yuri has the unfortunate luck of living on one of the few planets to ban space travel, thanks to an egomaniacal ruler bent on keeping his subjects under complete control. To fulfill his dreams of exploration, Yuri expends his entire life-savings to hire a launcher to smuggle him skyward. What follows is a familiar story culled from role-playing fantasies and transformed into a strategic space opera about an orphan haphazardly turning into an intergalactic hero.

Space is a dangerous realm of pirates, asteroid fields, and explosive political lines, which makes Yuri's meteoric rise as ridiculous as it is exciting. he barely has his space-legs by the time he has his first ship and commands a massive crew in battle. He has plenty of experienced, newfound friends to help him out, but I had to wonder why any of them were so quick to sign up for duty. It would be the equivalent to boarding a Navy battleship under the command of a captain who just had his first sailing lesson.

A solid story is the cornerstone of a fantastic RPG. Infinite Space does a fine job of enticing you forward through territories ravaged by war and steeped in millennia-old mysteries, but navigating the route is often a painstaking and confusing chore. Each sector of space has numerous planets to visit, where you can speak to the locals, your friends, and key characters. The tricky part is that you won't know how vital some characters are until you engage them in conversation two or three times without provocation, and, in some cases, return to the planet at a later time. It's an unyielding scavenger hunt of backtracking through repeated conversations to find the one person among dozens of planets who has something more to say.

I would have cast Infinite Space as another lackluster RPG if not for the amazing amount of ship-customization. From small and agile cruisers, to massive carriers and their squads of fighters, Infinite Space boasts over one hundred ships. I never kept count, but I can attest to the fact that my garage was overflowing with ships of all sizes and stats. Purchasing one is only the first step down a path a obsessive tinkering. Each ship contains a unique grid for installing modules like pieces of a puzzle, and there are some difficult choices to make. With room for one more component, do you beef up your defenses, add new artillery, or improve the performance of your crew with better kitchen facilities?

The 100+ characters that you encounter and add to your crew have dramatic affects on performance and force you to make difficult decisions when assigning them to posts on the ship. The ships of Infinite Space are massive and require a full range of services, from basics radar-operators and navigators, to chefs and security. Characters stats correlate with different positions, and most characters have special abilities when assigned to specific posts. Customization is so deep and so financially exhaustive that I was disappointed to find how quickly ships become obsolete. Ships can only improve so much before you run out of room for modules and weapons, and need to purchase a new one and begin the process all over again.

For a game with such a complex infrastructure, combat is far too simple for my taste. There are no grids, ammo counters, or hit-percentages that might find in an RTS. You move forward until you're in range and launch either a normal or barrage attack. Then you kick it into reverse, perhaps activate the dodge ability and wait for your command gauge to replenish. Battle gets a little more complex with special abilities from crewmembers, but not by much. If space-combat is simplistic, ship-boarding melee battles are downright infantile. One of the characters even states that it's exactly like Rock, Paper, Scissors.

At its worst, Infinite Space bleeds you for every drop of patience and proceeds to cut deeper in search of more. I don't like when story-based RPGs lead me by the hand, but nor should progression be unnecessarily bewildering. It's when you get into the ship customization that Infinite Space truly shines. As you trade modules, adjust the weaponry, and reassign crew members, every grievance temporarily washes away.


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