Large and sprawling space epics are the only proper way to fully enjoy a space-based RPG and simulation, and Starpoint Gemini 2hits the mark directly on the head. From developer Little Green Men Games and publisher Iceberg Interactive, SG2 is the follow-up to 2010’s Starpoint Gemini. Set in the same universe with the same in-fighting factions, pirate groups, and more, expect to find yourself lost within the expansive game.
Early on within the game, players are given the option to continue with either SG2’s main story or branch off into their own, personal narrative. Either side has its own rewards – following the story opens up an engaging plot of intrigue, yet starting on your own adventure has its merits too. Who doesn't want to be the roguish Han Solo in an open galaxy? The main story opens up the universe of SG2 brings players on the path to discover the reasons behind their father’s death and sets them on a path for revenge as a remnant of the Gemini League. The other potential “story” available is free roam, letting players forge their own stories in the universe. Both are enticing, but you’re free to do as you please between the story missions as well (just with more repercussions).
SG2 sets the tone of the game early on, throwing you into the thick of it without much of a warning. Since I had not played the original game in quite some time, I was once again unfamiliar with the controls and bit confused, spending the first few minutes of the game figuring out exactly how to move my ship. The sort-of tutorial did not really begin until a bit later in the game, leaving me to hunt down controls and learn everything at a rapid and brutal pace. My early game experiences were mostly full of me bumbling around, learning the hard way to not overstep my bounds with enemy ships. Much of what I learned during the game came from my own tinkering and messing with the UI and other menus. Learning how to manage the combat aspects became a priority early on, but I found using a mouse and WASD combo made it the simplest experience for me. It was fun maneuvering my ship behind enemies and chasing them down, constantly battering against their rear shields until I broke through to the meaty insides.
Gaining an understanding of the game is absolutely necessary, but there are major learning curves. Even with the random tool tips that began popping up, I still found myself confused on some aspects of the game. I felt overwhelmed and given too much information (or too little), too fast. Even now I’m positive there are aspects of the game I don’t fully grasp or never truly utilized. There are also aspects of the game itself that are not fully utilized to their full potential, like the RPG elements. Playing through the game eventually earns experience and levels, letting you put points into certain aspects of both your ship and avatar. These skill points help change your abilities within battle, but also on the field of negotiations and fleet management.
Speaking of sensory overload, SG2 is massive. Sprawling and never-ending may be a better way of describing it, but the map alone takes time to traverse. Setting a waypoint and traveling to it without the use of the warp gates can take 5-10 minutes in some cases, or long enough to walk downstairs to peruse the fridge, grab a drink, and then head back to your computer to watch the rest of the journey. While the warp gates will speed this travel time up, they also take considerable capital to use and can quickly deplete bank accounts in-game. But this level of massive brings with it a whole slew of opportunities. The map is full of pirate stations to destroy, asteroids to mine, and sidequests to complete.
This aspect is perhaps one of the best pieces of the game, since roaming freely offers players the chance to play the game how they like, customizing their experience. You can be a smuggler dodging patrol ships, a vicious pirate that preys on weak space stations, or even just a transport ship fighting the good fight. With the money earned, you can upgrade your ship with new weapons and abilities, hire on new officers, or even begin creating a full armada to take on bigger challenges. One of my favorite aspects was the ability to buy and customize your personal flagship, tailoring it to your playstyle.
Some of my complaints for the game may seem trivial, but they do put some irks into the gameplay. The RPG side of the game didn’t seem fully fleshed out and I started skipping the leveling process in favor of just playing. Aside from that, the voice acting came across as forced and grating within the game. It didn't matter if it was a cutscene or the quick, simple blurbs, but I found myself annoyed within the first couple of hours. I also experienced some stuttering issues at times, but they only seemed to occur during my long treks across the galaxy.
The game offers so much for players interested in a deep experience guaranteed to take hours to complete. I think it shines more in the free roam aspect where you can set your own path, but there’s so much to do. Too much to do even. Because of this, the game falls short in some aspects, like the tacked-on RPG elements. However, the game is an improvement from the original and doesn’t suffer many bugs from my experience. If you’re looking to get sucked into a space epic, then Starpoint Gemini 2 is your choice.Note: Starpoint Gemini 2 was reviewed on PC. A digital copy of the game was provided by the publisher/developer.