“The reports of my death have been greatly exaggerated. I am a PC game. And I am a space sim.”
- Star Citizen Kickstarter pitch
Space-simulators are the gaming industry’s greatest oversight. Not only did they offer unparalleled explorative means, but the vast worlds, intensive battles and compelling narratives remain as some of contemporary gaming’s greatest unrealized strengths. In an effort to truly rejuvenate this neglected genre, Chris Roberts, creator of the legendary Wing Commander series, has unveiled his new game: Star Citizen. If you consider yourself a space-sim fan in any way, this is something you won’t want to miss.
Contemporary game development can be a very brutal place and, as such, the space-sim genre has yet to take root in a mainstream setting. Maybe that’s because game design has evolved and explored different areas of creative design, but that’s not something many fans are willing to accept. There are plenty of developers out there who wish to aid in the genre’s revival, but between sub-par products, cancelled projects and ‘development hell’ there hasn’t been much for space jockeys to get excited about lately. That is, until Chris Roberts and Star Citizen warped in.
Declaring that space-sims are, in fact, not dead, Star Citizen is gearing up to deliver the world’s most ambitious space-faring title yet. Of course, any game can make such brazen claims but we’re talking about the creator of Wing Commander- and he’s asking for YOUR help to create the game he’s always dreamed of. Being unrestrained from a technological and corporate perspective, Roberts now seemingly has what it takes to craft the grand-magistrate of all space-sims.
Star Citizen is an MMO set in space (spoilers!) and it will feature a wide-range of play-styles, including a single-player campaign complete with cooperative play. Dubbed as ‘Squadron 42,’ this single-player campaign contains drop-in drop-out multiplayer and doesn’t have to be completed, or even touched, if your sole desire is to set out and explore the galaxy right from the start. Roberts has also said that choice will influence the universe, something that hasn’t strictly been tackled in the genre. Players that first discover star systems for example, get naming rights, potentially allowing anyone to directly impact the canon.
Using Crytek’s CryEngine 3, visual fidelity is unquestionably gorgeous and, once released, should shatter eyeballs across the globe. Getting a glimpse of some of the ships in the game, the amount of detail in the cockpit alone is startling. Knowing Roberts, it’s safe to say that each spacecraft will replicate this level of detail and that’s without even talking about weaponry, jump-systems, thrusters, etc. Yeah, Star Citizen is going to be an immense game.
Star Citizen, like all good space-sims, will have a nice focus on specific combat mechanics to make each encounter feel important. Obviously your bombers and heavily armed ships will be best suited to taking down capital ships, but you’ll also have the option to fly trade-ships and exploration vessels that don’t worry too much about combat. We don’t know all the details at the moment, but if Roberts can land a compelling way to play a game without relying on vaporizing dudes because… well, just because – that alone should be worth trying out.
It’s an ambitious project all the way around, and it’s important for the industry that Star Citizen succeeds. Nothing else in the genre even comes close to the production values behind Star Citizen, and if it fails it’ll send an even greater, brighter red flag to all who would attempt future space epics. If Roberts, one of the pioneers of the genre, can’t make a space-sim work in these times then we may as well wrap the genre up and put it to rest for good.
It may feel like a shot in the dark to some, but Star Citizen has the best chance of invigorating this genre, especially with so many fans showing their support. If all goes well, maybe in a couple of years the largely derivative “modern military shooter” could be replaced by an onslaught of space-sims. That’ll be the day.
When Andrew Whipple III isn’t writing or arguing about why Final Fantasy VI is the greatest game of all-time, he’s a dedicated New York Giants fan who loves to socialize and die in Gradius.