Read the manual here:
|I didn't say they were good graphics and sounds.|
|Unloading missiles at a tank|
|Approaching a fort in the mountains in a Dragoon|
- Dragoon, which has the heaviest armor and shields, heaviest weapon variants, and seems to be well suited to the diversion mission.
- Marauder, which has standard armor, faster flight speed than the Dragoon, heavy shields, a heavy blaster but a standard powergun, and a holographic decoy device to draw fire away.
- Ninja, which has standard armor and shields, fast flight speed, standard weapons, and an invisibility device, which reduces your odds of being spotted (but is no guarantee).
|The Ninja's invisibility device|
Energy is limited, but in practice, and very much unlike Rescue at Rigel, here I couldn't run out even if I tried. On the hardest settings I just don't live long enough to run out, and otherwise with a 20-30 minute mission I find myself being recalled to the transport with plenty of energy left. It's probably a good idea to have your shields on most of the time, as enemies may be present but unseen. And sometimes they see you first.
I couldn't really find a good strategy for consistently performing well or winning. There are some interesting stealth mechanics in play, but there's so little feedback that when you get seen, it's impossible to know if you made a mistake, or if you just had bad luck, and therefore have little incentive to approve. I preferred the Dragoon for mission 1 and the Ninja for mission 3, but even in my heavily armored and shielded Dragoon, damage taken was wildly inconsistent. Sometimes I'd take 6% damage from a hit, sometimes I'd take 60% instantly. You can heal, but it's very, very slow - about 1% per turn, during which enemies may just spot you even if you're in a hiding place and invisible, leading to a cycle of hurt where you never quite finish repairing your damaged subsystems or getting your health back up to a reasonable level. As a Ninja, not being seen is paramount, as there's no such thing as getting a light scratch even with shields on, but this too is subject to luck and skill, and there's no way to know which one failed you when you get spotted.
For what it's worth, I managed to win the second mission and extract successfully on the second-highest difficulty level, but doubt I could repeat this consistently.
GAB rating: Below Average. This may not be entirely fair, as I don't really "get" this game. Maybe with a more thorough understanding, it becomes a tactically sound game of skill. But I wish there was more transparency in how things work, and didn't have enough fun to spend more time figuring it out. For instance, is it better to inch your way through difficult terrain, giving enemies more time to spot you, or is it better to use your jump jets or flight to go through it quickly, giving them much less time, but higher chances of spotting you (if not also of hitting you) on any given turn? Neither strategy worked consistently, and it just frustrated me.
In Star Warrior's defense, the engine does seem to be quite a bit improved. The horribly long wall drawing routines that characterized earlier Dunjonquest games is gone here - no walls to render, after all - and the numerous sprites representing you, your enemies, and the terrain all draw relatively quickly, making movement itself significantly zippier than ever. At times it's a bit too fast, and often I inadvertently skipped a turn simply because I didn't press a button fast enough. But it also never dropped inputs, as far as I can tell, which was a constant problem in earlier games, especially Rescue at Rigel.
The next two upcoming games, unfortunately, will
not benefit from these engine improvements, as they take the form of
expansion packs and contain no coding of their own. Upper Reaches of
Apshai in particular, based on the flawed, buggy, and incomplete feeling
Temple of Apshai, gives me a bit of dread.