Sunday, August 6, 2017

Fractured Space - 20/20 hours

At times this game felt like a test of endurance. Playing the same, not-too-interesting mission over and over again tasked me more than I'd care to admit. At times, grinding was the only thing keeping me going. Getting credits for new ships, earning drop pods for daily rewards, and upgrading my crew with new implants were my favorite parts of the game. I probably spread my play time out over more days than was strictly necessary, just to reset the limited daily rewards.

A lot of the time, though, I was playing this game with an emotional detachment, going through the motions of directing my ship, but not being entirely present, mentally. I feel bad for my human teammates in these matches, because I was definitely not bringing my 100%, but not too bad because at my skill level, the difference between full and 75% efficiency was probably not enough to change the course of a match. Still, I feel like I was at least marginally more useful than a bot, and thus a net benefit to my team, regardless of my lack of personal investment in the outcome of the match. I probably shouldn't have been playing multiplayer, but I don't think I was bad enough for it to count as a crime.

At least that's what I'm telling myself. Truthfully, I'm relieved to be done with this game. It's not that it was bad. In fact, after I got a couple of ships in my hangar, I came to appreciate its free-to-play model. You can unlock all of the game's content through grinding, but it doesn't really matter since it is best to simply pick two or three ships and master those, rather than dabbling in a dozen or more (in fact, it's likely that no small part of my multiplayer suckiness is down to me playing each of my new ships as soon as I unlocked them). So what you've got is a game that is about developing skill in a kind of abstract way. The narrative context of your battles doesn't matter, because it's all about learning to use your selected ships' abilities to optimal effect.

If that's your sort of thing, Fractured Space gives you a slick looking arena, responsive controls, and a surprising amount of tactical depth.

It's the sort of thing that is startling to get for free, because it has a lot of polish to it, and, if you want a game that just gets right to the space combat without any sort of narrative pretext, then it's pretty great. It's easily worth 5-10 dollars, depending on how many ships a paid version would unlock at the start. So, you know, zero dollars feels like a great deal . . .

Except that I don't think that I, personally, would be willing to pay anything for it. Nothing against the game, it's just that what I love about space games is their sense of scope and scale. I like flying my space ships through a seemingly endless void, worrying about fuel and oxygen and power, all for the reward of landing on a potentially barren planet and getting nothing more than a pretty view for all my trouble. To put my opinion in perspective, I've complained about this game being too repetitive . . . by throwing me into one exciting action set piece after another and not forcing me to experience long stretches of tedium in between.

That's just the way it is, though. Final Fractured Space verdict - it's great for people who like thrilling space battles and poor for people who like banal space logistics.

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