StarDrive is a massive 4x strategy game from Iceberg Interactive and the first game developed by Zer0 Sum Games. StarDrive introduces you into a gargantuan universe with eight playable races, an almost innumerable amount of galaxies and a depth and breadth of customization that is staggering.
Coming into StarDrive I was almost completely lost with how to first proceed. Which leads me right into one of the biggest problems with StarDrive, the lack of a tutorial mode and tool-tips. To be clear, there is a tutorial available and there are tool-tips, but the tools tips really lack any clear explanation and don’t cover all that you need to know in such a massive game. The tutorial is basically an online instructions manual, which I highly doubt you want to spend two hours reading before you’re able to play the game. You’ll do well in StarDrive if you’re big into RTS games, but if you’re part of the uninitiated you may find yourself utterly lost.
The lack of information provided became glaringly evident when I found myself confused on how to even attack an enemy planet. Really, space battles and planet invasion play a huge part in StarDrive, how are these mechanics left uncommunicated? This info is obviously located in the online instructions manual, but the lack of a “Planet Invasion Tutorial Mode” or even solid tools-tips is unforgivable. Information about how to play your game should be passed on to the player easily. I understand that with a game this grand in scale that much will have to be learned from playing and from the community at large. But, the information that is provided is far from sufficient. Even though information dispensation is a huge problem, it is, unfortunately, not StarDrive’s worst problem.
Crashing, It happens constantly. I learned quickly to save my game often as I never know when a crash would occur. It almost always happened when in the menu screen or leaving the game to itself for a minute or two. Every time I’d left to get a drink or use the restroom I’d come back to a white screen. Then I’d have to open task manager, processes, then stop the StarDrive.exe, then restart. There’s not much more to say about that.
Now let me tell you about StarDrive’s good parts, namely gameplay. I absolutely love actually playing StarDrive. It’s incredibly deep and so full of customization. I easily put 30 hours into it within the first couple of days after I purchased it during the Steam sale. You have straight warfare, diplomacy, and spy activities at your disposal to either acquire or destroy other civilizations. You have to take into account each planet’s, food, production research, and taxes, build planetary defenses, and explore the galaxy all at the same time. Even before war is declared, you’ll have your hands full with hours of strategic planning and plotting.
When war is declared though, that’s when the real fun starts. As you research new technologies you’ll acquire new equipment you may use during the construction of your ships. This one of the greatest aspects of StarDrive, the customization of your own warships. You can start with a plain hull and then you’ll have to build a ship from the ground up. Choosing everything from engine types, power sources, armor strength, weapons, bridge position and more. Constructing your own warships is a huge time sink that will either pay off with galactic domination or you’ll fail miserably, like me. I created a huge fleet only to realize I didn’t have power conduits connecting the engines to a power source, So, when my ships launched they were caught by their star’s gravity and floated impotently in orbit.
StarDrive is an absolute blast to play. I’ve spent hours and hours in this game already. But with its lack of teaching the player understand the basics of the game coupled with its horrifying instability, I can’t suggest buying StarDrive for anymore than what I paid, $10.[easyreview title=”StarDrive Review 4/10” cat1title=”Presentaion 1/10” cat1detail=”Constant crashing and lack of system explanation is straight up unforgivable” cat1rating=”1/10″ cat2title=”Gameplay 9/10” cat2detail=”Hours of resource management, exploration, and exciting battles” cat2rating=”9/10″ cat3title=”” cat3detail=”” cat3rating=”” summary=””]
Stardrive is solidly 1/2 of an amazingly fun game. It’s like they forgot to add the rest of the features. With another year or two of development and polish, the game could have truly been a classic. It’s a shame.