Darkstar One is the new space shooter by Ascaron Entertainment. The game at first sight makes you think back of Freelancer, which was thrown on the market a couple of years ago by Digital Anvil. Is this a successful alternative or a failed copy?
In the game you play the teenager Kayron who learns his father’s death wasn’t an accident. The Darkstar One was the last project he worked on; an experimental space ship built from the artefacts of an ancient extra-terrestrial species. What makes the Darkstar One special is that it can grow when near new artefacts that are laying around in the universe. You can choose how to expand the ship, do you choose for more agility, more thrust, or a stronger hull?
Your mission is two-sided: start a search for the killer of your father and cross the universe looking for artefacts. Quickly you’ll get the company of the beautiful Eona, with whom you seem to get along nicely. The only thing missing to really head off is money to buy your own arsenal because although the ship can grow, you still need to buy guns, shields and several systems like an automatic landing computer.
Earning money can be done in several ways. Simplest is by doing some of the many missions in the different space stations. These are quite varied; kill someone, retrieve lost goods, listen in on a conversation… Most of the time it results in a fight, but it’s the thought that counts. Furthermore you can escort freighters which are ideal targets for pirates.
You want to be more peaceful? You can start trading goods yourself. Choose from about thirty products you can transport from one station to another. Despite the “dynamic” economy demand and offer differ too little so earning a lot of cash is way too easy. Most of the time you can sell your goods at 250% of your buying price after doing just one hyperjump. Next to the honest trader you can of course also get a taste for pirating and then you can make money even quicker, although it does get you into trouble with the local autorities.
The universe is divided into territoria, star clusters and solar systems, in total over one hundred of them. Despite the large amount and the visual differences, all worlds are built almost identical: one trading base, maybe some research centers (for which I’m still trying to find the use) and most of the time a meteor field. Next to the visual beauty the solar systems have little to offer during your searches seeing that equipment for your ship is on sale everywhere and – depending on your territory – always the same.
Enough on the content: how’s the game itself? Graphically the solar systems look pretty good, but the space ships in my opinion do lack some detail. The few planet missions, which feel like being added in five minutes, lack on all parts and ruin the atmosphere of the game. Flying your ship on the other hand is pretty simple. Despite that you have to point where you want to go, pursueing your enemy is a piece of cake. Only putting your pointer on the target maker of the enemy and you sure as hell get a hit. Who has ever played Freelancer will certainly know what I mean by this.
Allow me to summarise the game as follows: Darkstar One manages to differ from the competition by a few features, but quickly falls under the term “more of that”. You can get across large distances quicker, have a wide variety of missions, it’s aimed at quick action, but really comes short in the economy. Fun for a while, but not really for the die-hards.