Play: Space Rangers

If you are looking for a game that made you compete with 40 plus other NPCs in a quite immersive developing world, with handful things to do, and if you wouldn’t mind the basic graphic that comes with it, than this game would absolutely suit your taste.

Developed by Russian Elemental Games and published by 1C Company, Space Ranger is an RPG game that promises you to open a new era in space adventure. “Now you can forget about stages, missions, and passing the game on a piece of paper. Events in the game occur for real and are not just triggered by a date, or other event, following a fixed script. It is a coherent and live world in which each character really exists. Even leaving players field of vision, other ships continue their own adventures, living their own lives as long as the game lasts". And indeed it is a living world, breathing in your pc. Read on.

The first thing you have to know is that Space Rangers offers an ever evolving world. The planets orbiting the sun of each system, the NPCs really have their own philosophy and activities; they also upgrade their ship as many times as you do. Some will die in the battle, some will survive and become stronger, and new rangers will emerge as the time goes by. It's like an MMOG, but with NPCs as your competitors. They can even make their own alliance, fly together, kill enemies together, and collect loots together; depending on the situation. And you can follow them, if that's what you want.

You are given five races to begin with - the wise Gaalians, the philosophical Faeyans, the economic thinking Human, the cunning Pelengs and the big bully Maloqs, and three classes to choose from - trader, pirate or warrior. Each character has different approach and bonuses - starting skills, credits, ship's equipments and reputation. There are four difficulties - easy, normal, hard and expert. Starting on easy is recommended. There are six skill sets to be improved by using ranger points - mobility, accuracy, and charm, leadership, trading and technical. Go for more trading skills. You will level up your character depending on your gameplay style. For example, you may start as a warrior, but you could end up as a merchant. It's the freedom to choose, upgrading ability, varied activities, dynamic trade system and ranking scheme that add to its game value.

My first impression of SR is that it offers the same addiction related to Diablo gameplay. You get to upgrade your ship's hull, engine, fuel tank, weapons, scanner, radar, pro-field generator (shield), cargo hook beam and droid. There are eight levels of technologies, color-coded from the lowest blue to highest black. Each of them varies from space usage, range ability, speed reducing, defense and other interesting details. Most importantly, you have to balance your ship's mass and its speed. The democratic Gaalian planet technology advances faster than the other civilizations and their equipments are of high quality - they wear off slower than the others. And one thing that seems exciting enough is that the technologies revolve with time. The longer you stay in SR world, the flashier equipments you could get, if you have what it takes. Or you could opt for the cheaper but broken things from the pirate base.

Your main concern is to liberate the galaxy from the sixth race - Klissans, controlled by Makhpella who’ll try to conquer the galaxy. You will become addicted with expanding, exploring your galaxy map and upgrading your ship but beware, if you did not efficiently work your way up the ranger ranking by donating protoplasms to ranger base, or send things you looted from the remaining of Klissan to scientific base, or enhance your military rank by killing them, you are going to face a big problem later on in the game. Yes, you need a strong strategy to win the game. Or other NPC will win it. Remember, you are battling with the other 40 plus rangers in the vast universe. You have been warned. But again, there is always a pirate base to sort things up, in a twisted way but need a lot of money.

To collect credit to upgrade your ship for the battle, you can choose to mine asteroids for cheap minerals, or do missions or quests available in some planets, menu-driven, but you must be in friendly term with the planet first. You can bribe the government representative if you want to. But if you misstep, you can get yourself into jail, and it's really hard living in the cell (in a good gaming way), I've been there twice. The missions are based on time duration with three options - the hard way-do it fast and you get lots of credits, the easy way-do it slower and the payment is small, or just nicely in the middle. The missions are quite varied, from delivering stuffs to other planet in other system, escort transports, patrol the planet, or kill pirates (which is quite fun because you get to use the database available in the game to search the pirate's location). The quests are a text-adventure based and IQ puzzles (hmm...). If you succeed with your mission or quest, you will earn credits and even rewarded with special equipments, titles or ranger points. But if you fail, it will affect your status with the customer planet.

Another interesting way to collect money is through trading and it is safe to say that the trade system in the game is dynamic and fun. Besides the tip given by the government rep or from the chat with other traders in space, you can seek for more tips from the news. Besides, you will be alerted on which item is cheap to buy and which items are profitable to sell. There’s even inflation factor to count on- too much an item in the planet and the price will fluctuate, vice versa. There are illegal items for each races and law system, involve in it and your reputation with the planet will downgrade. The economy also influenced by the political system. Some planets have their own revolution from monarch to republic to dictatorship to democracy.

The news is a cool feature, I must say. Not only will it guide you to the "buy low, sell high" tips, it also warns you the location of Klissans, pirates or criminal rangers (yes, some rangers are scum), and you could simply clip any information you need to the taskbar, which is very affectionately done. The best part is, you ranger can even have your own name be put in the news, if you are a hard working (or in some cases, worse) ranger. Or you could be titled as the lucky trader, bravest warrior or ruthless pirate, if you worth the title.

The combat doesn't offer much but did put some action in the game. You can pause in-between the battle to give order to your ship or other NPCs. Do you fight because you have powerful weapon, droid, shield and speed? What is your tactic - close shooting, far shooting, auto battle, or just pursue? Or do you runaway? The other NPCs also think the same like you. If you are a weakling, they will bully you, and ask for your money. But they will run away to other system, or dock with the nearest planet if you are stronger, or you have back-up from other NPCs (which you can get by communicating with the ships within your radar and scanner range), or you have your own subordinates (depend on your leadership skill and your choice to hire them). But IMHO, it's hard to love the arcade battle in the hyperspace and black hole. It just doesn't seem right to my space adventure. But you can just turn off the hyperspace option in the settings.

The GUI is excellent and expertly done. You can play the entire game using your mouse. However the manual did miss one important thing, I found out that to store items on a planet, you could use Ctrl key. But other than that, there is no complaint. The save-game feature is one to praise. You can play as many characters as you want and save game before any decision-making so that you can turn back to it if you fail. The system requirements made it possible to run the game in the highest resolution even in a less power gaming rig.

My last advice would be, keep in track with the news, go repair your ship at military base, send as many Klissan remaining to research base so that the scientist will make the Mental Communicator ASAP, race with other rangers in sending protoplasms to ranger base, kill more Klissans than you can count, kill any pirates that come across you and you will become The One. Yeah. Now, did I miss any details of the game?

The game strength is, for successfully making the NPCs and the planets 'lives the life'. If you can forgive the graphic, it's worth your labor of time. Feel the MMOG feeling in a single-player game. Now, if only they can make it a real-time game in 3D…

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