Sword of the Stars II: First Blood Drawn

1 - Intense Menu Battle
The Menu Has a Great Battle Sequence

So last time I looked at Sword of the Stars II, I jumped in assuming there was a tutorial (which there wasn’t, oddly) and kind of played a game blindly wondering what the heck I was doing and what was going on. This lasted ten turns before the game crashed, which was not a very positive beginning. Since then, the game has been given the “all clear” by its designers at Kerberos, and I read much of the manual, so let’s take a look and see if this second time through is more positive than the first. ;)

First off, I have to apologize for the scant amount of screenshots. Typically, I set Fraps to take a screenshot every five seconds, and then I pick the best shots from among the hundreds or thousands taken. In this case, Fraps decided to stop taking screenshots after the first turn. I’ve already contacted various support folks about it, so I’ll hopefully have it fixed for next time — or I’ll just have to hit the screenshot button again for each turn — and will have a more abundant array of screenshots.

2 - Nicely Detailed Ships

Armed with new knowledge, and with a newly patched game in the clear, as it were, I decided to start an entirely new game with an entirely new race, to give myself and the game a clean slate. I chose a Tauri-shaped map and let the game choose the race for me, which in this case was the Morrigi Confederation. This seemed like a pretty cool race, so I agreed with the game’s suggestion and jumped right in.

3 - Chose the Tauri Map
Ohhhh, Nice Shape…

Now that I had a better idea on how to do things, I gave my scout fleet a mission to explore a nearby system, built a new patrol fleet with two armor ships and a command ship — and saving the invoice for later, I like that a lot — and then built a science station nearby in Winath. Two of my three fleets had stuff to do, with only the colonization fleet waiting for orders. I then set up some research — which looks pretty cool by the way — and ended my turn.

8 - Building a Patrol Fleet
A Small Patrol Fleet for In-System Security.

Like many games of this type, the first few turns kind of flew by (though this is where the screenshots stop, grumble bitch moan ;). The new patrol fleet was built in a few turns and began patrolling my home system of Hesperus. I was noticing how much more smoothly the game flowed this time. Sure, not a lot was happening, but it was still engaging to watch my fleets move and explore, my planets build and so on. In the following turns I built a couple more patrol fleets for the other two systems I controlled, as well as another scout fleet. I then noticed how in the red my finances were (like, -800,000 money unit things)! Eep! I then raised taxes a bit to help curb the debt, which helped a bit.

4 - Welcome to Hesperus
Home is Where the Taxes Are?

Maybe fourteen turns in now, I was having a great time. Seriously, this game felt good to play. Not Distant Worlds good, mind you, but still, I was having a lot of fun. This fun continued until turn 15, where one of my scout fleets (a command ship and a scout) encountered a Swarm. I’d never heard of ’em, but I wanted to see combat, so I jumped right in. Combat involves some time-acceleration thingy as you’re shown a map of the system with both fleets moving into position. Once they’re in position, combat reverts to real-time. Imagine my shock and horror when I saw my two smallish green ships on the map facing dozens of small, medium and large red dots indicating the Swarm enemy.

I flew into the fight, and took out a decent number of the enemy, and it was really a lovely thing to watch up close. The high detail models helped convey battle damage brilliantly, and combat had a fluidity to it that I really enjoyed. In the end, I lost both ships due to overwhelming numbers and my too-late decision to retreat once the command ship was taken out. It was a crushing defeat, first blood in what I hoped wouldn’t be too many future defeats. I’ll tell you what though, I had fun losing. ;)

Likely this fun was a combination of me reading the f’ing manual and the game being more stable. Regardless, this play session felt wildly different and wholly improved than the last one. I still don’t know 100% of what I’m doing (because this game does things different than MANY other games of its type, at least it feels that way to me), but I’m now actually looking forward to future play sessions for this review and beyond.

Again, I apologize for the lack of screenshots, but I’ll make sure that next time I’m much better stocked. I hope you enjoyed this look at Sword of the Stars II, thank you for reading, and invite you to enjoy this gallery of the (few) screenshots I kept from this session.

Author: Brian Rubin

8 thoughts on “Sword of the Stars II: First Blood Drawn

  1. Ugh, it’s one of the games I’m still not dare enough to return to after trying it vanilla. It just feels… overwhelming. And it bluntly throws everything at you right from the beginning, making you feel like you’ve been stumped upon by an elephant.

    1. But what glorious combat, and the ships can be configured in oh so many ways…more than even Distant Worlds

      1. Never got that far :) Don’t have enough patience no more to study games that have no decent tutorial :)
        15 years ago I’d probably spend weekend to get how it works, but now it’s work, family, renovations, cat and ferret – all them eating my free time, leaving very little to spend :))

        1. This is a fair point, it’s honestly criminal, I think, that a game this deep and detailed doesn’t include a tutorial in this day and age.

  2. Nice revisit article. I started playing it this past weekend. It is pretty overwhelming, but it’s still rewarding and fun. I imagine that when I actually get comfortable with all the various nuances, this game will be one of those “One more turn…(3 hours pass)” type of games.

    1. Yeah, it’s really feeling like it has the potential to be one of those “One more turn…wait, it’s 4 AM? WTF?” games, but I need to play more to be sure.

    1. Welcome to the blog, David! As for your question, I apologize, but I barely played any of the first Sword of the Stars (I was going through a gaming hiatus when it came out years ago) and therefore couldn’t honestly say how it differs without making it up. ;) People I’ve spoken to who know both games say this one is deeper, if that helps.

Chime In!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.