There has been a resurgence of space-themed games lately, like X: Rebirth, Endless Space, Lost Empire: Immortals, and the much anticipated Star Citizen. Perhaps you can also add the Star Trek game as well if you think it’s a space game, although that’s not a very good example. With this momentum, here’s Space Rangers HD: A War Apart, and it actually has the right stuff that brings the faith back into the genre, which has been left to languish before.
For those who want to see a basic space simulation game, you can download Hyper WARP for the iOS and get the gist of this genre. You can then play the classic Freelancer if you can find it somewhere to really get into the genre, but only if Microsoft Game Studios stops being so difficult. If you just want to jump into it though, Space Rangers HD: A War Apart does let beginners learn the game rather easily, especially for a genre that tends to scare casuals.
Space Rangers HD is a remake of the Russian-made Space Rangers 2: Rise of the Dominators that also includes new content and stuff from the original add-ons, Reboot and Revolution. If you want to get a taste of PC gaming in the early 2000′s, then this could serve as a good history lesson at least. It does hold up on its own though as a space trading game where you must learn to thrive in the blackness of space with shrewdness, cunning, and a ship to travel the vast open in-game world, complete with various factions vying for control.
Your starting location would be randomized, even if you play the same kind of character, and everything else wouldn’t be the same as your last playthrough as well. Because of that, no two games are the same, which makes for lots of content and good replay value. Character customization is also rich in variety, letting you pick one of five races and your starting career, whether you want to be a warrior, pirate, corsair, trader, or so on. Once you’ve made your character, you start off in a certain situation with a ship, a bank account, and so on.
You then have to work your way up the ladder to a successful career in space. For those who don’t know much about these games, it’s a lot like a singleplayer version of EVE Online, but without all the tedium and waiting. You still have the flexibility in options, either being a mercenary who takes up missions, a merchant who carts goods to and fro, or an outlaw who takes what he wants by fear or force. Helping you with learning how to play the game is the clean and simple interface that is conducive for playing with both mouse and keyboard with hotkeys.
Aside from the usual space trading game fare, the developers had also thrown in some mini-games to mix things up. Different kinds of missions have different mini-games, like when invading planets held by Dominators puts you in a real-time strategy mode. There are some missions that contain text adventure sequences that give you various scenarios. Then there are hyperspace battles if you fall into a black hole, wherein you use the arrow keys to move your ship around. They’re uncommon in the game, but do provide some intermission from the game that can be nice if you’ve been playing for hours.
Among all those modes, the RTS does seem to be a weakness, like how it’s the same with Divinity: Dragon Commander. In this game though, it’s due to weak unit AI that requires you to micromanage way too much to keep them in line. Perhaps for some people, they work against immersion in the game, but perhaps that’s a good thing in this case since they remind you to not take it too seriously. Space Rangers HD is all about the fun in space trading and sci-fi, and that’s a good thing.
This game does have a steep learning curve for those who are not used to this genre, but it’s easy enough once you understand the concept. Space Rangers HD is a faithful remake of the original game while being an improvement in design and performance, and also a good entry point into the world of space simulations.
Tested in PC. Final Score: 8/10