Shrapnel Games takes us back to the Space Empires universe again, this time not as the leader of an entire galaxy-spanning race, but instead as the commander of a single starship. And while fans of the 4X-style game play of the original Space Empires series might become a bit concerned about Starfury’s move to a more action-oriented, real-time space combat simulation, they’ll soon find there’s really nothing to worry about. Starfury holds true to the spirit of the Space Empires franchise, and is quite a fun little game, to boot.
Like many of the space-combat simulations, game play in Starfury boils down to taking on a series of ever-increasingly-difficult missions. At first, while in command of a small vessel unable to hold its own against even the weakest space pirate, those missions may consist of simple cargo transport or planet surveys. After a few successful runs (and a bit more money in ship’s funds), the more dangerous (and lucrative) “search and destroy” or “protect the client” missions become the job of choice. After a while, these missions begin to feel a bit repetitive, but they still manage to be addictive enough to bring about the “just one more” response that causes many hours of sleep to be lost.
There are three campaigns included with the game, which give players a plotline to work through while touring the galaxy. Thankfully, these campaign plots are non-restrictive, allowing for adventuring in any way desired. This makes Starfury a very open-ended game, allowing players to take the role of merchant, privateer, vigilante, or pirate. The main plot is always there, just waiting for the player to return and begin another story mission, but until that time the player is free to roam the galaxy unhindered.
Adding to the open-ended feeling of the game is the huge amount of ship-customizability. Several ship types are available from each of the many races present in the galaxy, most of which will be quite familiar to Space Empires veterans. With an impressive array of weapons, defense systems, and ship components available, players can fine-tune their ships a myriad different ways.
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