Usually, most declarations of one game genre or another being "dead" are just hot air. That said, such sentiments are probably closest to truth when applied to space games. Space games are somewhat rare, just a few titles standing out of the pack. Gamers with a lust for giant starship fleets pounding the crap out of each other with shiny beam weapons and screaming missiles are ill-served these days.
Gratuitous Space Battles, (PC)
Players must design the ships that will fight for glory in the depths of space. Thankfully though, they won't need a degree in CAD or space engineering to get going, and the process mainly consists of selecting one of many pre-designed ship hulls and deciding which snazzy space components go where, balancing power needs with crew requirements and other attributes, like weight.
"The Rebels are a collection of species that once formed a part of the Galactic Empire, but broke away due the harsh demands of the Empire for ever greater sacrifices in terms of military commitment. The Rebels reasoned that the only way to ever be free of a lifetime of military service for the glory of the Empire was to dedicate their lives to fighting against them. As a result, today's modern Rebel Alliance contains the majority of the irony-resistant species in the galaxy."
Perhaps the game's greatest flaw is a lack of balance in the single-player mission mode. It's far too easy to just ignore frigates and fighters, settling to drop large mass of heavy capital ships, eventually winning by way of attrition. It doesn't feel as rewarding to use complex AI routines, diverse ship selections or elegant formations, making it harder to learn those new tactics that keep sessions fresh, especially once multiplayer comes in.
The real joy of Gratuitous Space Battles' multiplayer is the resemblance it bears to old-school "snail-mail chess" games. Players can construct their own customized fleets and post them up as "challenges" that others can test their own setups against. There's a great feeling that you get when your complicated, subtle formations and sublime ship designs flatten an enemy fleet, as if to say "Hah! Is that the best you could come up with! What kind of grand admiral are you?!"
Score: 8 -- Great (8s are impressive efforts with a few noticeable problems holding them back. Won't astound everyone, but is worth your time and cash.)
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