It looks like KlickNation is moving out of the fantasy realm and into science-fiction. Though we recently took a look at their top title, Age of Champions, we’ve now come across a new, space-age concept by the name of Starship Command. Stated to only be an early beta version, the new Facebook title is already looking fairly complete.
A sort of cross between Facebook role-playing games and automated fighters, Starship Command is a game that tasks players with the defense or invasion of Earth. Utilizing older concepts such as energy, repeatable missions, and upgradable equipment, the game steers away from the text-based nature of social RPGs to grant users a much more visual presentation as they witness their ships broadside with enemies on a galactic scale. Nevertheless, while the game is certainly on the right track, and a tremendous improvement over Age of Champions’ visual style, there is still a bit of polish left to be desired.
Apparently, Earth is being invaded by a race of aliens known as the Zigonians. However, players are given a choice, right from the beginning, to either become part of Earth’s last line of defense or spearhead the interstellar invasion. Moreover, this choice of faction is a factor that affects both the player versus player aspects of the game (to be mentioned later), as well as the mission storyline. Thankfully, players do not have to worry too much about their choice, as the game allows for multiple accounts to be created.
Once a choice is made, users are able to begin undertaking missions in order to progress a basic storyline. With each mission, preempted with a Ken Burns-affected cut-scene, the player is whisked off to a top-down quadrant of space which is peppered with various items to collect and enemy ships that can be interacted with at the cost of recharging energy. Typically, the ships are the primary threat, and thus the core goal is to wipe each of them out.
This is where the automated fighting game element comes into play. Players have absolutely no direct control over the battles. Instead, players watch the engaging capital class ships broadside one another until one is defeated. In order to improve one’s chance of winning, however, users can purchase various ship components such as weaponry and equipment (some can also be found in random debris floating about a mission battlefield).
Weapons consist of things such as missiles, beams, and other projectiles that come with a myriad of stats and special features such as quick reload time, extra damage to hulls, ignoring shields, and so on. As for equipment, this is a bit more basic, only boosting shields or hull health. Likely, however, more interesting boosts will be available at higher levels. Regardless, with each capital ship one buys, different numbers of equipment spaces are available, granting the player a means to customize — at least to a limited degree — their play style.
In addition to arsenal, as players level up, they will be able to add more fighter class ships to their fleet. Automatically equipped as they are purchased or found, these little pests do no direct damage to enemies but do boost the evasion and accuracy attributes to the player’s primary capital ship. Additionally, it is somewhat gratifying to watch them fly around in the middle of a battle sequence.
On the social side of things, Starship Command is a bit disappointing from a friend point-of-view. There doesn’t seem to be any noted benefit to playing with friends, aside from leaderboards, and the majority of social play is tailored toward a player versus player element. Of course, there is nothing wrong with this, and users are able to enter a battle space littered with enemy faction players that users can attempt to defeat. With the ability to choose opponents based on relative level (“Safer Matches” to “Toughest Matches”), players can test their ships in battle, earn experience, and even win some coin from rivals’ virtual wallets if those players are unwise enough to not bank it periodically.
From a core game play perspective, Starship Command is nothing terribly new, and even the faction concept is something we’ve seen before with Exorcists vs. Demons. Nevertheless, the game is certainly on the right track as far as visual appeal goes. With any sort of automated battle/fighting game, it can be very rewarding to watch one’s creation duke it out in some epic fashion. That said, this early version of the game still feels like it needs a bit more spit and polish in this department.
The two elements that stand out most are the animation frame rate and distinctly layered look of many visual elements. In terms of the latter, this refers to the fact that even though the game is top-down 2D, many elements, like the ships on the star field, look as if they are simply laid atop it rather than feel a part of it. Individually, everything looks fine, but together, many visual elements just don’t fit. Additionally, a lot of the animations and effects move at a slower frame rate than what you’d expect they should be. In many cases, such as the Home screen, or even some battle sequences, its easy to discern individual frames. It just doesn’t feel fluid.
Nevertheless, it is still a beta version for Starship Command, and the complaints to be had are those that fairly superfluous and easily fixable with time. Granted, the core concepts have been done before, but Starship Command allows for a greater level of visual reward for the player beyond mere text. That said, it would be nice to have more customization for each ship (both visually and functionally), but thus far, the game seems on the right track. Of course, some of the cut scene and mission dialogue could be a little less cheesy…. Okay “double gulp” was kind of funny.