Review – DarkStar One: Broken Alliance

DarksStar One: Broken Alliance is a game that’s tailor-made for gamers who grew up playing PC games. It features a complex universe with a trade system, and excellent space combat, but it will push the patience of the majority of console gamers with its slow pacing and economy-based gameplay.

DarkStar One: Broken Alliance is the story of a young man whose father is mysteriously killed. The young man, Kayron, inherits the DarkStar One, a unique spaceship that gains strength from organic substances. The story gathers steam from there, with Kayron inheriting a female sidekick who helps him navigate through space and uncover a larger story that voids itself of clichés and becomes quite compelling.

DarkStar One’s gameplay focuses on developing the DarkStar One into a formidable fighting machine and earning money to help you get to that point.

Earning money is accomplished by several different means. Kayron can dock at an orbiting trade station where he can pick up assignments to tackle. These vary from clearing systems of pirates to smuggling goods to taking photographs of secret research facilities on asteroids. Every single mission requires Kayron to use the DarkStar One, and as a result, the entire game is a space combat and flight simulator. And the fighting is pretty good.

The controls in the game are relatively simple and they help to make the space combat fun and intuitive. Kayron throttles the ship forward using the right joystick, and fires his weapons using the right trigger. He can slow the ship down to execute fast turns, and rolls, and there’s a unique targeting system that allows Kayron to aim ahead of the enemy ships, targeting where they will be rather than their bodies. The fighting is frenzied, but it is also against enemies who will either overwhelm or underwhelm you. The enemy difficulty really seems to be based upon toughness of their ships and weapons rather than different skill levels. The enemies never seem to become better at executing fast turns or outmaneuvering you, and as a result, the difficulty in the defeating them remains similar throughout the game. If you are outmatched in terms of weapons and armor, you will lose, no matter how good you are. It’s an unfortunate trait for a game in this day and age, but it only frustrates when you can’t defeat your enemies no matter what maneuvers you make.

The game’s universe is connected via a star map and getting to other star systems requires having a certain level of a hyperdrive. So, getting to the next star system might just require a level 2 or 3 hyperdrive, but getting to several star systems away could require a higher level and thus, you need to work your way up to a higher level through completing missions and making money to advance the story and explore the universe. This is a great way to introduce players to the game and have them explore the mission system. It also introduces players to different combat scenarios and essentially forces them to upgrade their ships to an appropriate level for the deeper, more dangerous star systems.

DarkStar One’s trade system is unique, too. Each star system has a different ruling government, and as a result, different objects are contraband and different objects carry different values as well. So what’s one system’s junk is another system’s treasure.

DarkStar One is a fun, unique game that will appeal to a small core of the Xbox 360 audience. It is a game that is an ode to the space fighters of the 1990s, and though it’s far from perfect, it’s surprisingly deep and addictive. If you’re looking for an experience that will slowly suck you in and remind you of the good old days of gaming on your old PC, DarkStar One: Broken Alliance is a great choice.