Friday, July 12, 2013

First Impressions: Infinite Space (DS)

Infinite Space is a game that came out back in 2009, developed by Nude Maker and Platinum Games and published by SEGA.  I recall finding out about the game from an article in the December 2009 issue of Nintendo Power.  The glowing praise from the article coupled with seeing Vorlynx play hours on Eve Online and explaining game mechanics (despite my general dislike of MMORPG's), I really wanted to play Infinite Space.  

Being the person that I am, I naturally waited too long before picking the game up and it seemed to fall into relative obscurity.  I was able to find it on eBay, but the frequent "RARE" or "Out of Print!" tag that went along with the game's title always seem to drive up the cost of the game.  While living in Northern California, any Gamestop that carried Infinite Space always seemed to be just far enough away that made the idea of travelling 100 miles round trip, just too damn far.  For a while I'd given up ever trying to locate a reasonably priced copy of Infinite Space until one afternoon I was in a Gamestop up here in Oregon and happened to see a used copy for ~$12.  I snatched that up faster than something that snatches up things really fast.

Presently I have put in 4h38m of play time and 6h21m of game time.  Why the discrepancy?  Because there have been times when I've been forced into combat and didn't come out alive, which was usually 20 minutes after having saved.  I also started the game twice.  The first time was shortly after I brought it home and played for about 30 minutes.  A couple of weeks ago I came back to it and rather than try and figure out what I was doing, I just started over.

Right now in the game, I really feel like I'm playing a video game version of Firefly that was done better than a licensed Firefly game could pull off.  In general terms, you are the pilot of a spaceship that you purchase after hawking a family heirloom.  As the game progresses, you come upon new ships to purchase/acquire and are able to establish/build your crew by assigning them to positions that they are best suited for (each character has individual stats such as Engineering, Command, Medical, et cetera).  I am travelling from planet-to-planet looking for work from bartenders.  Thankfully my ships are refuelled/repaired every time I dock with a station while orbiting a planet free of charge, otherwise it would be too much like Firefly.

One thing about the game that stuck in my mind was that it apparently had a very steep learning curve.  Like the harmonica, it's easy to learn to play, but you'd better learn quickly or you'll find yourself in a battle of the bands against John Popper if you're not careful.  Or if you haven't saved in the last 30 minutes.  This has happened to me a couple of times.  Each time you come across a planet, you have the option to save.  While travelling to other planets, celestial objects, you have a chance/risk of running across hostiles.  Most of the time you have the option of battling x number of ships or escaping.  A few times I've been forced into battle against people I am assuming are pirates and I cannot escape.  Each time was following a battle that I was able to win although suffered plenty of damage to my ship, thus my ship was destroyed along with the money and experience I gained from the previous successful battle.

That's the thing with this game, you have to pay attention.  During the battle sequences, you may be battling three other vessels who are all equipped differently and have differing ranges of fire.  The battle screen is set up as such:
The vertically slashed area at the top shows the position of your ship (green bullet shape) to the enemy ship (yellow /green/red bullet shape) that you are currently focused on (which is selected at the top of the bottom screen), regardless if the ship you've selected is the closer of the x number of ships to you.  The green/yellow/red meter shows which type of attacks you can perform on the ship you've selected, but only if they are within range; if you're not in range, you can't attack.

Within this linear space, you can move your ship forward or backward to put yourself within range or move yourself out of range of the ship that you've selected, all the while keeping in mind that the ships that you're not focusing on fighting can still fire at you if you are within their range, which is not displayed.

At the point I am at in the game, I do not have the special "Spcl1" command or the "Melee" option available to me.  In fact, I just learned "Command 2" which allows me to have more than one ship under my command while in combat.

As I look this over, I can see that I would still have a lot to cover, even in a Full Review and I may have to break that up into two parts, like I did with The World Ends With You posts.

The last thing I will bring up is the music.  The music itself is pretty good, about what you would expect from a science-fiction outer space RPG.  The sound quality though seems a bit lacking.  The music and sound effects often sound like there is a layer of static in the forefront.  I only really notice this staticiness when I'm playing the game around people and I feel like I have to apologize for the strange noises emanating from my non-phone-gaming device.

So yes, I am currently very happy with my purchase of Infinite Space, even if it was published without blast processing.  It's a very fun space RPG that is consistently reminding me of Firefly, and even if Kaylee isn't my chief engineer, at least I haven't come across any Reavers.


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