DarkStar One: Broken Alliance Reviews

AuthorReview
PeaceSquid
471,929 (281,675)
PeaceSquid
TA Score for this game: 2,059
Posted on 24 July 10 at 08:41, Edited on 24 July 10 at 10:49
This review has 35 positive votes and 6 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Darkstar One is a very odd addition to the Xbox 360 roster. For one, it's not an FPS, a racer or a hack and slasher, which puts it in a very exclusive club these days. Also, it's a straight port of a relatively obscure space-combat game that first appeared on the PC back in 2006. Yep, this one came right out of left-field.

So is it any good? Well here's the thing. The game will have its fans, I'm kind of one of them I guess, but it's also the victim of some stunningly poor gameplay decisions and hasn't improved in the the last four years. In fact, it's a very poor cousin to the likes of Freelancer and even Elite - the games that most directly inspired it. But there's still something about it.

After some nonsense plot about you inheriting a ship - the titular Darkstar One - from your dead father, you are given a couple of lessons in the art of dicking about in space and then you're on your way, leaving the safety of the trade station for the bleak, hostile galaxy. At this point you are in classic Elite territory, flitting between star systems raising cash and completing your story missions. The story can be ignored until you fancy jumping in, allowing you to play the game at your own pace and it's here that the game tends to be at its most enjoyable.

You can take on mercenary missions, track down pirate gangs, trade goods, escort cargo ships or rob them. It's up to you and it creates an illusion of freedom for a while that truly gives you that lone pilot in space kind of feel. At least until you pick up a female co-pilot who then spoils the party by being achingly unfunny and as annoying as a PS3 fan in a rational debate about Killzone 2.

The biggest problem the game has it that nothing in it feels fleshed out at all. Take trading for example. In Freelancer, longer trips invariably led to bigger rewards. Finding the best trade routes involved the biggest risks and so you had to do a bit of exploration and a lot of fighting before you found the best markets but in Darkstar One you can easily maximise your profits within one or two systems. There's no thought behind it at all and once you've nabbed the three or four trading based achievements, you'll not bother with it again.

Likewise, you don't get to buy new ships (which I guess is fair enough given that the game is named after the ship you're in). Instead you upgrade the Darkstar which is all well and good except that it's a very slow process and you never really get to make your ship awesome. Also, a couple of missable achievements mean that your upgrade path is all but picked for you unless you don't care about such things (although why are you on this site then?).

Add to this voice acting which makes Two Worlds sound excellent, a deeply uninteresting 2D star map, a lack of mission variety which is almost as bad as Crackdown 2, all the information in the game being relayed in a font that requires you to have THE VISION OF A F'ING EAGLE, missions that you'll fail for absolutely no reason, controls that simply don't respond correctly at times and plenty of crashes and lock-ups and you'd think this game is a monumental lemon.

However, look beyond all that (!!) and you'll find a fairly competent space shooter with enjoyable combat, some epic battles, a decent atmosphere and some nice visuals (it's certainly not a visual clusterf**k like Project Sylpheed). Also, if you allow yourself to be drawn in, it's quite an addictive game. If you can find it for a bargain price, it's definitely worth a try if you've ever dabbled with the genre in the past, but be warned - it's not for everyone.

Achievements

Aside from the usual story progress achievements and a few token ones for the trading element in the game, the achievements in this game are mainly about grinding things out. Visiting 300 trade stations is probably the biggest chore. Keep a list of these and make a note of the pirate gangs you've eliminated as you go along and they won't be too troublesome. Also robbing (ie destroying) 100 cargo freighters is time-consuming also. Especially as it gets the space cops laying into you like you're Rodney King.

The two missable achievements are related to upgrading your ship. You can upgrade the engines, wings and hull up to level 10 but there are only twenty upgrades available. You need to get the hull to 10 and the wings up to 7 so leave the engines well alone until you've got the associated achievements.

This isn't a hard 1000, it's not even the grindiest, but it can feel like a slog and the high TA ratios are testament to that.


www.peoww.co.uk
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Danny Dubs 86
970,553 (516,664)
Danny Dubs 86
TA Score for this game: 2,059
Posted on 30 June 13 at 21:09
This review has 5 positive votes and 1 negative vote. Please log in to vote.
Originally posted on my blog at http://takeaimandgame.blogspot.com/

During my formative years as a gamer, I would gobble up any game I could get my hands on, good or bad. I spent untold hours exploring dozens of virtual worlds, but as the gaming industry evolves, some genres become less common. A great example is the flight simulator; I loved the X-Wing series of games, but I haven’t seen a really good flight sim in well over a decade. I jumped on DarkStar One: Broken Alliance for just this reason, but it sadly doesn’t break that trend.

DarkStar One puts you in the Kayron’s jumpsuit and follows the eager young pilot’s first excursion. Driven by the discovery of unusual circumstances surrounding his father’s death, Kayron’s quest to find a saboteur takes him across the galaxy and, as tends to happen in RPGs, draws him into every conflict he encounters.

The melding of flight sim and RPG elements is pretty cool. Instead of progressing linearly through a series of missions, you’re able to explore different systems and sectors at your leisure, with the main quest making up only a small portion of the available content. You also get RPG-esque upgrades for your ship, making leveling up an integral part of the gameplay.

But that’s basically where the coolness ends; everything else is disappointing. Let’s start at the bottom and work our way up.

The control scheme is terrible. It’s pretty clear that this title is a console port of a PC game, as the complex controls you might expect while piloting a spaceship are severely limited by the relative lack of buttons on a console controller. For thurst, you have three options: forward, backward, and stopped. Those three options alone wouldn’t be problematic, except that you also have the option of matching the speed of your target, opening a ton of other velocities. Your control over your speed is limited in a fairly silly way.

Combat is also annoying because you can’t do a whole lot. Standard flying maneuvers like barrel rolls are extremely awkward if they’re even available, so I found battles would reduce to stopping so I could more easily target the highly evasive fighters I encountered. There are a few fights involving larger capital ships, but those are also heavily fighter-centric. Every battle ends up playing out the same way, which gets incredibly repetitive.

One saving grace is the element of exploration. There are over 300 systems to explore across several alien factions, so DarkStar One offers a large galaxy for you to discover. Unfortunately, there’s absolutely no incentive to venture too far off the path – each system consists of a trading station, some neutral trade ships, and possibly an asteroid field and research station (which won’t interact with you at all), and lonely empty space. That’s it. Aside from admittedly beautiful planets floating in the distance, there’s nothing to see or do in the majority of these systems.

To make matters worse, pirates will ambush you a lot, and you can’t do much of anything (like docking with trade stations of hyperjumping to a new system) until you kill them. Bouncing from system to system becomes a tedious exercise in killing a handful of pirates and visiting the trade station before moving on to the next one, and there are very few rewards for doing so. It feels like a pointlessly big galaxy, with lots to explore but nothing to discover.

Quests are rather repetitive, too. Despite having a number of different objectives, nearly all of them reduce to “go here, kill this, come back.” Main storyline quests are a little bit better, as a few will send you to the surface of a planet for a somewhat different experience, but those missions have a different problem – a couple of those missions lead to disorienting and borderline nauseating areas, so they lose whatever benefits the diversity provided.

And there are no compelling reasons to complete those storyline missions. The narrative is incredibly boring; I felt no real desire to see it through after a couple hours of play. Perhaps more damning is the fact that it hints at intriguing complexities by mentioning bitter wars and political conflicts between races, but it never develops the history of this galaxy. You’re left with an “everybody hates everybody” scenario with no justification, making for a very shallow experience.

Despite the dated animations, the presentation is decent. For most of the game, you’re dealing with distant ships and planetary backgrounds, the lack of small details in which is pretty hard to screw up. The cinematics are clearly using less-than-modern graphical capabilities, but they’re still solid. Voice acting is a little awkward, but it’s also not horrible. The fact that the rather mediocre presentation is overall the best part of the game says something rather disappointing about the game as a whole.

To be fair, I enjoyed the first couple hours of jumping from system to system, recklessly dispatching pirates. It wasn’t until the lack of depth became apparent that I started to get frustrated with it, and then the game continued for another 10+ hours. Completing this game is far more a test of stamina than an entertaining romp through a sci-fi universe.

And the achievement list follows that observation. There’s nothing too difficult to accomplish, it’s just going to require some dedication and some aspirin to get it all done. It’s repetitive and tedious, requiring somewhere around 20 hours to earn all 1000 Gamerscore.

DarkStar One: Broken Alliance starts relatively well but rapidly fizzles. It becomes incredibly tedious and generally uninteresting, leading me to find it hard to recommend it to much of anyone. If you’re desperate for a flight sim, it’ll help satiate that need, but your time and money are still probably better spent elsewhere.

My Rating: 2/10 – terrible.

(For more info on my rating system, including overall stats, see http://takeaimandgame.blogspot.com/p/reviews.html)
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Lord BaneJ
251,547 (174,807)
Lord BaneJ
TA Score for this game: 2,059
Posted on 15 September 12 at 09:25
This review has 6 positive votes and 5 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
DarkStar One: Broken Alliance for the Xbox 360 is currently the only 4x game offered by the console.

Most people who enjoy 4X games - i.e Exploration, Expansion, Exploitation, and Extermination will find this game lacking at the same time playable. It's a fairly shallow game that doesn't offer much customization, although there are plenty of upgrade components.

Exploration is comprised of entering new solar systems via your upgradable warp drives jump distance; which is not only determined by money but mainly where you are in the storyline. When you enter a new system everything in it is listed in a Target List leaving little room for actual exploration.

Expansion consists of opening new solar systems. There is no station management or player controlled solar systems.

Exploitation is not worth discussing because of how little it brings to the game.

Extermination has less to offer than exploitation. The graphics are crisp and clean but to me they feel unnatural.

Overall the game fills a void that has been neglected on the console
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DARTH JAS
193,903 (111,513)
DARTH JAS
TA Score for this game: 2,059
Posted on 28 September 10 at 03:24
This review has 2 positive votes and 3 negative votes. Please log in to vote.
Darkstar On Is a port of the PC game by Kalypso. If you like science fiction games this one is for you. The premise of the game is to bring your fathers killler to justice. With out giving away the rest of the plot line Thing are not always what they seem. As you search for your father's killer you explore the galaxy. In order to continue in your search you will find artifacts to upgrade your ships engines and weapons. There are side missions along the way that help with gaining artifacts and unlocking new stars to travel to. There are also missions you can undertake to gain more money for ship upgrades.
There are some repetitive missions and the constent random pirate attacks you have to deal with. It is easy to continue with the sory line and side quests, as you advance through the game. The star map with show you which stars to goto by putting a M next to stars with a story advancing mission and a Q next to stars with side quest. If you are unable to reach a star with your ship you will need to collect artifacts to unlock upgrades or if this is already done you may need to buy a drive upgrade at the dockyard at the trade stations to increase the jump range of your ship. I like this type of game and would give it 4 out of 5 stars.
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