Thursday, April 14, 2016

Startopia - 20/20 hours

I managed to power through Mission 7 and seize control of the station through force of arms. After that, Mission 8 was kind of a breather where I had to attract monks, pilgrims, and penitents to my station. Then came Mission 9 . . .

It's exactly the sort of mission I always claim to want - you and three other administrators are on the same station and the station owners will give a valuable contract to whoever attracts the most tourist income . . . but the catch is that they charge outrageous rent and if you ever miss a payment, you're out.

Which, okay, sounds tough, but fair. Except when I started getting into the competition, these little assholes would come out of nowhere and blow up my shit.

I was having enough trouble just keeping ahead of the expenses. Having to pay death benefits and recruitment fees for replacements more or less stalled my growth and I saw no way of breaking out of the cycle.

I subsequently ragequit and started a sandbox game. That's when I realized I was being too hard on Mission 9. I'd thought that all the bombs and stuff were just part of the mission's challenge, sabotage by my competition. However, in sandbox mode I learned that they were actually just an inevitable consequence of my low security rating.

Apparently, in the future, terrorists are ubiquitous and have a huge hatred for space-stations. So, I don't know, Mission 9 isn't so bad. With a little practice, I was able to get security under control in sandbox mode, but given the mission's constraints, it's going to take a lot of practice to get things right.

But, of course, I'm out of time.

My final opinion of Startopia is that it has a lot going for it, but when the rubber hit the road, it lacked a certain something. I think what it is is printed text. I'd have loved to see my population in numbers, my budget broken down by building category, my security by type of vulnerability. What information there was available was in simple iconic form that you could glance at to get the general gist of what's going on, but that was it. As a result, I never really felt like I had a solid foundation to build upon.

But it's possible that other people would see this as a strength. Here is a strategy game where you don't need to delve into a dry world of numbers and charts, you can simply build what feels right at an given time and you'll probably do okay. Success, then, is not a matter of reaching some numerical benchmark, but of having something that looks like it's thriving.

I can see the appeal of that. Startopia may not have hooked me, personally, but I'm not going to call it a bad game. I think I have to acknowledge that I have a very particular formula that attracts me and that some things don't quite fit. It's like a finely made suit that is one size too small.

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