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Space Hack
Developer: Rebelmind Category: RPGRelease date: 18 November 2005Official site  
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Space Hack preview

I have been thinking these days, especially when reading this thread, that innovation is no longer a success element in the computer games industry. I disagree with pal Viracocha when saying that “the golden age of the computer games vanished behind me while I was foolishly playing Unreal” because I think that we are at the beginning or maybe even in the middle of that age. What went by for good and there is no way to return is the pure-mindedness and innocence of the beginning, when the hard was not big deal and games hadn’t so many eyes candy. Diablo is in the category of those who took advantage of our innocence as players and which shook the gamming world. It is a game that massively brought the rpg action category to the public’s attention.

For the first two titles, Diablo 1 and 2, Blizzard imposed the rpg with isometric view, in which the camera is placed somewhere above the main character, somehow like in a classical strategy game, with the difference that the movement is restricted to a singular character and this way completely annihilating the “god like” perspective a strategy game creates.
Was it good? Was it bad? The millions fans of this game who still find the same pleasure of playing this game as in the beginning are certainly those who can answer to such a question.

Why have I chosen beginning with this digression instead of jumping right in the middle of the subject?

Well, I think I felt the need of emphasizing a little bit the historical points of view Space Hack in order to reopen the debate on the disappointment the games from today can provoke. Space Hack is for many players an excitement, bringing long lost memories from old times, but for others it will not be but a copy of the successful Diablo, in other words a clone.

Lucky me, I am not part of any of these 2 categories. I haven’t played any of these two Diablo or a clone of those that followed. Pure not-luck, Mr.Vira that I am far behind you concerning the games. On the other hand I like to consider that this situation also has its advantages because I could completely enjoy the game, without making any comparisons.

If regarding Space Hack from this point of view, it deserves to be named clone. This is from the very beginning a mark that usually decreases the quality of a game. I wonder if this is right !? Well, I don’t think many of you will approve me. Let’s analyze a little the motivation of those who produced the game.

There is a person or a team who strongly believe in it at the origin of each game. May it be the game designer or the producer/distributor that has the author rights of who knows what film (or rarely a book), the former idea never remains the same. This is because such a game means a lot of money. This money usually comes from the investors who want to be returned the money, even more. Therefore, there is an increase of the power of decision in the marketing departments that can completely change the idea.

Does the marketing say that Diablo is a success recipe? Yes. Does the game designer want to implement new facilities or has he a revolutionary idea for game play? This might be possible. Now put yourselves into the investor’s shoes and tell me what would you choose? Well, of course you would chose the solution already checked when it’s about your money that you had hardly earned. Are you still thinking that the clone is a terrible thing?

This is maybe the way followed by the boys form Rebelmind a year ago. Competition on the market is more and more obvious and this is a good thing because even the clones must prove a superior quality in these circumstances. I have recently received from Rebelmind and Darek Rusin, a copy for the press and so I was able to take a look and make an impression on what is about to be launched. The 4 hours spent in front of my computer did not seem to be bad at all for me.

Let’s prepare us and get started.

There is one thing that is for sure: Space Hack is Diablo 1 in the future. The castles, the monasteries and the villages were replaced by the biospheres of a society with a numerous population and which sends criminal elements, as well as non-grata persons in order to look for life on other planets. Hmmm. The classical story of colonizing the new continents that also happened in America and Australia. I here agree with the game designer. The promoters of the human civilization are not necessarily the pioneers, but mostly the adventurers and outcasts the society wants to get rid of, but in a way that can save the appearances.

But because nothing is like it seems to be, which our case is, I must tell you that whole expedition is captured by an unmerciful gravitational entity named Black Nebula and ends in a spaceships cemetery, which belongs to the aliens, of course.

What does not seem to be such a tragedy is the fact that people are inventive and adaptable creatures. There won’t be a new planet but a nebula full of galactic remains that can be colonized. Things were being more severe sometimes, so I don’t think it would be a problem to develop us here.

Hey, nice thinking, I can tell, but unfortunately it is false. Because, damn, the Universe is not so friendly and peaceful, and in that cloud there are also unlucky fallows who survived. They consider the human biosphere a real delicatessen and they rushed into tasting it. The colonists, who are an easy pray for the alien, vanish one by one. There is, of course, an exception from the rule; otherwise there was nothing to play for. The last biosphere succeeds in arming itself and stops the attack of the alien vermin. But situation is on the edge because the resources are scarce and vermin soothes her wounds before every new attack.

Fear not my brave, for there is Space Hack with you, the man who confronted a ship full of pirates only with a machete in his hand. As a reward he was sent in a one-way journey. Talking about trust in the game designers…Hey, looser, haven’t I told you that heroism is not god for your health? Wouldn’t have been better for you to remain a NPC and take care of the small things?

One of the strongest feelings of deja-vu is offered by the graphical interface, the inventory and attributes panels. There is the same position like in Diablo, and maybe the same keys are used (I and C). This is not a bad thing because no player is obliged to learn new controls, and Rebelmind haven’t lost precious time inventing new keys and new interfaces. If you like it or not, this is another problem. The thing is that it did not bother me. There are 4 attributes to upgrade like in Diablo: strength, knowledge, dexterity, endurance. The requested and necessary points are gained by hacking the enemies, at each level the game generously offers you 5 points that you have to allocate with much attention taking into consideration the preferences of character development: for melee, obviously strength, for the long distance weapons, like the bow or saw thrower upgrade dexterity, for the magnetic or cold ray laser guns, you must upgrade knowledge, and endurance is obvious what is it for.

There are also many other things that can be use to enhance your powers like biochips, energetic shields, holograms, teleports (you will find its meaning when you will be in the situation of changing level and even if the gate is close to you, you’ll have to cross the whole level because there is a small stream of water between you and the gate). Probably the creative fantasy of game designers won’t end here.

Oh, I forgot to tell you that you will have the honor to be Space Hack, ex sheriff, now a colonist and savior of the whole expedition.
I was telling you that you’ll have to pass the whole level. Well, Space Hack cannot run endlessly or until you get tired to click. I usually play with always run on, but Rebelmind decided that the gameplay should be improved and so Space Hack gets tired if you make him run too much. This would not be such a big problem for anyone, but it is possible that if walking around too much you might run into a pack of aliens with two or several legs, which are disgustingly picking their teeth after having finished their meal, other colonists. You might then find out that you are too weak to fight back. There is nothing more unpleasant than not being able to flee because Hack was tired.

All in all, the game is a successful combination between old and new elements. There are armors, swords, bows and arrows like in a classical RPG, but on the other hand we also have teleports, laser guns, alien spiders with the role of skeletons and zombies. The mix is not usual, but it has a positive effect upon the gameplay.

I won’t go further into details because the game might suffer some changes.

Space Hack is a game created with a lot of work, pleasure and professionalism. These can be proved by the engine, the detailed graphic, the neat textures and the variety of objects. Rebelmind created several types of biospheres taking into consideration the weather conditions. The reason is simple and plausible. In the beginning, all biospheres were perfectly adapted to people. The alien invasion ruined the mechanisms that maintained the climate, so the deserts, swamps and icy tundra appeared. This is the place where Space Hack performs to save the remains of the expedition.

Talking about the manipulation of characters, I think there is something missing. That is the way of eliminating the numerous clicks one should make in order to direct the character into the level. If you press the button longer, Space Hack will move only to the point indicated by you and not to the new coordinates of the mouse. There is also the control of the camera. Here you will lose a lot of time getting used to it. The camera is not working very well for the corners and the edges of the map, because the engine intends to keep the coordinates of the camera in the inside of the map and it doesn’t allow you to examine it from the outside. These are things you will easily jump over because there are many other things to capture and raise your interest.

The music is an ambient one, which means that it doesn’t surprise you in any particular way, only if you really want to hear it. There are some gothic accents that can be found here and there, but the others I cannot identify because I haven’t enough knowledge on music. After having the planned interview, maybe we will have all the information given from the source. EAX, voice acting is totally missing by now even if I find it great, but who knows, things can change by the launching of the game.

All in all, the game appears to be a success and if you will be able to get rid of Diablo nostalgia, I can guarantee you that you won’t regret.
Posted by newman [Sunday, 11 December 2005 - 01:35]

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