There is nothing worse than being interrupted during a restful slumber. Well, except being woke by a power-hungry lunatic that wants you for your killer skillset. No breakfast, no Saturday morning cartoons, just wake up and go take care of my enemies. That’s life as a STAR SOD.
Okay, so there’s a little more to the story and we will get into that. First, let me start this review by saying that this game is a longtime project for a single developer. This game is not going to knock your socks off. What it does do, is show us that this developer can set out to make a game and see it through. For that, I salute you Mass Games.
The Basic Concept
You awake from your cryogenic slumber to find yourself at the mercy of a shadowy group known as STAR. Their leader has tasked you with boarding an enemy spacecraft where you must track down and eliminate targets. Why you? Because, you are a killing machine that has been modified with the ability to slow time.
The concept here is pretty simple. You are being forced to track down and kill some folks because your super power gives you the upper hand. You will fight your way through the various levels of the space station, before setting your sights on the guy pulling your strings.
The story is pretty basic and doesn’t really focus on any detail. Go here, find this, kill that. Without giving too much away, this will all lead you back to the guy that has been forcing you to do his bidding. Unfortunately, the climax of the story is pretty lackluster, but does ultimately tie up the game.
This is a first-person shooter and plays out like most FPS games. You run around to your objectives, that are highlighted for you, and kill anything in your way. You get access to a couple of standard weapon types along the way. While they work, they lack any unique qualities and could use a little finesse. Most notably, the assault rifle. It pumps out rounds like a fire hose.
Your unique ability is to slow down time. Unlike most games that use a bullet time effect, this one triggers, automatically, each time a round is fired. The only time it won’t trigger is when you have fired a round in the last few seconds. I actually liked how this played out once I got used to it. Not having control over this made what would have been a basic FPS, a little more challenging.
The story plays out over about an hour of game time. During that time, all of the story elements are delivered to you through the voice of your mysterious captor. While this definitely was a less than thrilling adventure, it did have a story that wrapped up in the end. It just lacked any real detail that might have given the world more life.
Getting a Grip
The controls take a little getting used to. You have two modes of movement, teleport with directional landing and free locomotion with snap turning. While the free locomotion was, by far, the better option, the snap turning was a pain. You do get the option to change the degree of the turn. But, even all the way down, the turn speed felt super-fast.
Picking up items could sometime be a royal pain in the butt as well. You get a slight highlight to the item you are targeting, but it didn’t alway want to register. I found myself just skipping over most ammo because of this. Equipping your sidearm was easy enough, but for some reason the assault rifle is placed in a really odd location that made switching between the two a chore.
You also get a little PDA type device that allows you to hack computers to find targets. This actually worked pretty well. It sits on your chest and is easy to access.
Sights and Sounds
Graphically, this game is very basic. Most of the assets look like they come from a development kit, and I am actually okay with that. The Steam page and trailer show you exactly what you get and that is way better than trying to pass it off as something more.
You get low texture environments, unimpressive item and character models, and generic enemy animations. However, nothing feels broken. I didn’t run into any issues with clipping or being stuck on invisible walls. It has that going for it at least.
The audio is as basic as the graphics. The only thing that didn’t feel like it was pulled from stock assets, are the voice acting and the music. While even these are not really quality, they at least give the game something to call its own.
The Generic FPS
This game has many down sides. The NPC’s lack any real life to them and are often just waiting for you to make a target out of yourself. Aside form the time slowing mechanic, the game is as generic as they come. The story lacks any real detail that might make it compelling, and the movement controls could use a little tweaking.
What this game does do, is show that this individual can release a product that is playable, even if it is basic. It’s a small game, but it is complete. I don’t know if this was a school project, something done for fun, or even if its portfolio material. Whatever the case, it shows the the individual has a grasp on the basics. I really hope they take all that gained insight and put it towards something unique in next.
STAR SOD is available for $7.99 on Steam. I can’t recommend this game at that price. Not because it is bad or broken, but just because it is so incredibly basic. However, if it was at a lower price point, you might enjoy checking out how the bullet time effect adds to the gameplay.