Space, like hope, springs eternal, which is probably why fans of space sims have suffered for so long. Once a dominant genre, space sims come few and far between now, and the glory days of games such as Wing Commander and TIE Fighter are ancient history. So enter Spaceforce: Rogue Universe from Dreamcatcher and Provox Games, a space sim that blends role-playing with the open-ended type of exploration reminiscent of Elite. It makes for a compelling package, but it suffers from some inexplicable problems.
Who said space was bland and empty?
There are actually two games in Spaceforce. The first is a story-driven campaign that lets you fly around a galaxy in pursuit of vengeance for your family, while the second is a free-form, open-ended role-playing game that ditches the story completely, lets you create your own character from different races and classes, and lets you fly around the galaxy and pursue the more than 2,000 side quests on your own. That's enough content to keep most space fans busy for a good, long while--or at least until the next space sim is released in a year or two.
Like any good space sim, the heart of Spaceforce is your ship, a fighter that you can exchange and upgrade any number of ways. As usual, you can upgrade your ship by buying and installing more powerful weapons and components, but you can also boost various components of your ship so long as you have cash to pay for the upgrades. You get cash for these upgrades by flying missions, which can be picked up at any space station. Invariably, these missions require you to go out and blast the heck out of someone or something, and their pace, as well as the sheer number of available missions, means that you'll be busy as you zip around space.
Thankfully, even though the game is set in a fairly open galaxy full of star systems, it's easy to get around. You can go into mega speed mode by switching the camera to outside of your ship, which lets you shorten travel time as you fly across systems. Meanwhile, a helpful jump system usually lets you warp straight to a space station or a dimensional gate, which lets you travel from system to system. There's a lot to see and explore in each system, as you can discover and interact with different civilizations and explore previously uncharted territory.