It’s that time of year again where we buy presents for others (and let’s be honest, ourselves) for whatever reason or holiday you follow. :) If you recall, I did a holiday buying guide for 2011 last year that people seemed to find helpful, and a lot of the games on that list still apply. :) To avoid repetition, however, I’ll make an entirely new lest for this year and each year thereafter. ;)
Now, 2012 was a pretty good year for space games, both new and old, so while this list will be shorter than last year’s, taken together they will hopefully be a valuable resource in your gift research arsenal. :) This year I’ll be recommending games that have been released since the last guide, specifically games I have enough time with that I feel comfortable recommending. That being said, let’s take a look at the guide…
Rather than separating games out by type this time, I’m just going to simply list them. Here goes:
- Drox Operative – As I write this, Drox Operative is still in beta, but it should be fully relased shortly I hope. I’ve written about this game at length, but honestly I feel it deserves to be in any space game fan’s hanger, as it were. Varied gameplay, lots of win and loss options, tons of equipment to play with and much more, this is a game that has kept me busy for dozens of hours, and that was just in the beta. You can get Drox Operative at the official Soldak site, and buying the game nets you both PC and Mac versions.
- FTL – FTL is an amazing game that honestly broke my brain. Basically you command a starship and the people inside it on a very macro level. You simply push buttons to tell the ship where to go and what to do, but you also have to manage individual crewmembers, whether they’re repairing an the engine, fighting a fire or battling with intruders. This leads to a lot of crew deaths, which can be hilarious or terrible based on how you play. This is a fantastic game that anyone interested in Roguelikes or crew management, along with just wonderfully varied gameplay. You can get the game in many places, such as Steam, or the official site, but I recommend GOG because they sell both the PC and Mac versions in one package, along with goodies you won’t get elsewhere.
- Galaxy on Fire II HD – This is a game I had a lot of fun with. Very reminiscient of the fantastic game Freelancer, yet with enough variety to make its own mark. It’s an HD PC port of what was originally a mobile/tablet game, but don’t let that dissuade you. This is a deep game with plenty to do. The story itself is fairly short, but it’s a lot of fun and very exciting. Once the story ends, like other games of this type, you can keep playing to your heart’s content. The missions are quite varied, from simple combat to espionage to retrieving stolen property, and the combat is fast and visceral. There are also a ton of ships and upgrades to go through. As of right now, you can get this on Steam, Green Man Gaming, GameStop and Origin.
- Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion – This game is a fantastic mix of both Real-Time Strategy and 4X sensibilities, with one of the best interfaces out there. This game expects you to juggle a lot, yet they make this as streamlined as possible, helping make the game a joy to play. Games can be as short or as long as you want, and there’s plenty of units and races to play around with. It also looks fantastic, as it has some of the best space battle visuals in the business. Totally worth anyone’s time if they’re into real time or grand space strategy games. You can get this from many places, such as Steam, GameStop, GamersGate, GameFly or from Stardock directly (which I believe gives you a Steam key anyway).
- SOL: Exodus – This fast and furious fighter-based space combat game can be had for pretty cheaply, is very linear and has a really fun story. Meant as the beginning of a trilogy, the game has eight levels with fantastic visuals, visceral combat and more targets for you to shoot than you can shake a stick at. While I personally had some issues with the targeting controls, that didn’t stop me from having a great time with the game. You can currently get this on Steam, GamersGate and Desura as well as a deluxed boxed version from Iceberg Interactive.
- Most of the Wing Commander Series – Since my last guide, the wonderful folks at GOG have released many of the Wing Commander games. If you know a space game fan that hasn’t seen this part of space gaming history, these are must-owns. You can follow the links below to get these on GOG:
- Zigfrak – I wrote a preview for this one a while back, and am in the process of whipping up the review, but dang is it fun. It’s a Freelancer-esque game with fast, visceral combat, varied missions and a fantastic sense of humor. I’m really enjoying my time with this one, and I have a feeling the space game fan in your life will enjoy it as well. You can currently get it on Desura or the official site.
These are games I’ve not spent too much time with, but the little bit of time I have spent with them has been on the fun side, so I wanted to mention them as well.
- Dangerous – Not to be confused with that other game with Dangerous in the title, this is an open-space combat and exploration game that’s a rockin’ good time so far. You can get this on the official site.
- Lunar Flight – I like to call this one “Crashy McCrasherston: The Crashing Simulator” because so far that’s been my experience. That’s not to say it’s been a bad time, honestly, it’s been great! This game allows you to do a lunar lander pilot on the Moon or Mars, and it’s pretty dang realistic. Honestly, crashing is half the fun, as it can be hilarious once you realize it’s all going wrong. :) You can get this on Steam, simMarket, Desura and GamersGate.
- Salvation Prophecy – This is a fun game that mixes ground combat and space combat. I’ve only played a bit of it, but it’s been a really good fun and varied time. You can get this on GamersGate, Desura and Little Indie.
That should do it! I hope y’all find this little guide helpful in buying the space game fan in your life the stuff they actually want. ;) Have a happy, safe and fun holiday season, and happy shopping!