Star Control: Origins Preview

Back in the ’90’s space-based games were all over the PC, heck I’d be willing to bet even just having a PC then meant you at least had the screen saver that looked like you were flying through space. Some of the biggest names in the genre had a heavy presence then with several titles in the Elite, X-Wing/Tie Fighter, and Wing Commander series in that time period alone. Along in that mix of space dominance was Star Control. While popularity faded a bit, space is once again having its day with Elite: Dangerous and Star Citizen putting it back towards the forefront of players minds. It’s not surprising then that Star Control would make a comeback as well. While there certainly is quite a bit of back-story involved in getting a new Star Control game out, we’re gonna to leave that be and just check out the latest Star Control: Origins.

Back to the Beginning

So with a name like Star Control: Origins one can probably guess it’s going back to the beginning, reboot style. If you missed out on the series the first time around, don’t worry, previous knowledge is not required. The story picks up in 2088 and is based on our universe, but with a different timeline than our current position in 2018. While that might sound slightly confusing, what really matters here is that Star Control: Origin follows the player and the important part they play in the story of the ascension of Earth within the galaxy.

I was able to go hands-on with the first chapter of the story and here’s a quick breakdown of the type of gameplay involved. There is the exploration of Solar Systems and Planets, Hyperspace Travel, Ship Combat and Upgrades and finally everyone’s favorite, trying to talk to Aliens. Let’s start with Ship Combat and Solar System exploration. It may seem odd to lump these two together at first but there is one major similarity and that is movement. Paying homage to the original title, movement in a spaceship, whether battling or otherwise it is very much in the vein of Spacewar!. While, that name might not ring a bell, realize it was developed in 1962 and in the time since there have been countless games that have used that similar “floaty” type of space combat. Of course, it’s 2018 so it certainly looks a lot more appealing in this day and age.

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We’re not talking “the needle” and “the wedge” here either for spaceships. There is an expansive amount of customization that can be done. It seems that even the smallest sections of the ship have multiple options to choose from. They, of course, aren’t free though. So how are they paid for? This is where the planetary exploration kicks in. There are resources to be gathered nearly everywhere, along with some points of interest to see as well. This didn’t really seem to be the most exciting feature in the preview, but the landers can get upgrades, the first being a gun, so one can imagine that exploring a planet or moons surface gets a bit more interesting further down the road. Anyway, selling those resources is a surefire way to make some bank.

Unfortunately, the first chapter comes to a close right before the first hyperspace jump, so no word on that, but how about some words with Aliens instead? First contact is with the Tywom, who seem friendly, but at the same time aren’t so great a hiding that there are probably some ulterior motives going on. Maybe it’s all good with them and everything is just a “translation error” but it will be interesting to see where that “friendship” goes. The big bads are the Scryve. They seem to be the just as mean and powerful as a big bad should be. It’s fairly evident that while the Tywom wanted to “warn” earth that the Scryve were out looking for them and to beware, that really they wanted some allies to try and fight them off too. The dialog in the preview was pretty diverse and amusing and don’t worry about saying the wrong thing, because no matter how nice or mean something may be here, it may not be to an alien species and that’s half the fun.

After getting to check out the first chapter I’m excited to see where this story leads. The dialogue and voice acting are some real strong points. The recent news of Adam Baldwin (Serenity, Independence Day, Full Metal Jacket..etc) joining the voice acting cast should be an even bigger addition to already solid performances. The Spacewar! type of movement is what it is, while a more direct call back to Star Control‘s past it isn’t something I enjoy, but can still deal with enough so it’s doesn’t drag things down. Finally, the planetary exploration available in the first chapter was of the type that wasn’t the most interesting, yet one could easily see that it was just ramping up to taking a much larger and more interesting role later in the game. All in all, if you were a fan of the original or a new fan, this seems like it will be a real winner.

**PC Key provided by the publisher**