Heresy War Demo: Impressions

They don't have any screenshots with 'splodes on, the fools.
The internet has the arrogance to carry on when I was away from it. Damn it. However, I’ve decided to be magnaminous and actually pay attention to what’s be up since I’ve been absent. Namely, a 150Mb demo for Heresy War, a space-combat simulator set in space (as is the wont of space-simulators). It features an instant-battle mode and four (count ’em!) missions, and is in the Freespace/X-Wing mode. And, since it’s been a while since we last had one of them, I figured it was worth a crack.

And it’s pretty fun, if showing the signs of its (presumably) relative low-budget. The voice-overs, for example, sound like a bunch of random Northern blokes. While oddly this is fine with the friendly ships, it caused me to wonder why the people threatening our lives sounded so genial. Who’s side are they on?

It stays close to the dog-fighting formula, with your ship being particularly manouverable – it’s not quite as complicated as something like X-wing – the shield system is a general reservoir which is depleted from all hits rather than a area-specific one – but it’s nippy and brutal. Once I realised you can skip to a combat mode and holding onto the right mouse button lets you swing around crazily, I was picking pirates from the sky with ease. And being rewarded by particularly enormous explosions. Win! Also, there’s battles against heavy ships, with individually selectable areas, and you trying to stay out of zones of defence and so on and so Luke Skywalker.

Main problems? For some odd reason the basic roll-commands seem to be the wrong way around, but that’s redefinable. The health bar is displayed as a curve beneath the model of your ship, which initially gives you the wrong impression it’s your rear shields, which is the sort of UI confusion we could do without. But mainly – and the reason why I stopped playing – is that the quit-mission button doesn’t have a “Are you sure Y/N” thing, which lead to me quitting out right at the end of the third mission when I was trying to look up the controls in a hurry. Those sort of slightly naive game design errors, really, which will either get polished out as we progress or just reinforce its position as a B-game.

But it’s a B-game in a genre that’s been almost abandoned and its heart is in exactly the right place. And, in size, the demo offers a good chunk of blowing pirates into chunks. I liked it and suspect anyone who’s been lamenting about Freespace’s absence from our lives will too. Get it here.

16 Comments

  1. phil says:

    There should be more random northern blokes doing voice overs – Van Dyke mockney seems to be the default accent for working class British characters and its been done to death.

  2. mandrill says:

    Good call sir, looks like great fun. I couldn’t figure out how to re-map keys though, minor gripe. Hopefully they’ll Iron out the kinks before release and I’d be glad of some gamepad support.

  3. Aubrey says:

    I’m doing an abstract tie-fightery game for the current TigSource compo. This is good for copying from.

    I MEANT REFERENCE.

  4. Eyemessiah says:

    X-Wing gets a mention but not Tie Fighter?

    Rebel Scum!

    Freespace was awesome though!

    (downloading)

  5. Kanakotka says:

    A surprise entrée genre that i loved thought dead long ago aside from the (clunky confusing controlled) X series and upcoming (hit or miss studios. aka netdevil) jumpgate? JUBILATIONS!

  6. Therlun says:

    I had hopes for capital ship combat for a second there :(

    Bridge Commander was so much fun in MP, and it would have been even better without the license.

  7. RichPowers says:

    I have no idea what the hell is going on in that screenshot.

  8. Pod says:

    I’m liking how RPS has started linking DIRECT to the download page! Yesterday I downloaded Indy in seconds thank’s to Walkers prime linking skills. (fact: I started the, in comparison, tiny Larva game downloading first and it still hadn’t finished by the time the massive Indy demo had downloaded! Thanks, gamershell!)

  9. CLLMM says:

    I quite enjoyed this demo. I wish Tarr Chronicles had this control system, but that was still an enjoyable game as well. The vertical thrusters are fantastic for dodging.

  10. rora says:

    i had major mouse sensitivity issues with a logitech g5. the music also tended to go into loops whenever there was loading. i don’t see any mention of system requirements on the website, but i have a fairly new (though mid-grade) machine, so i’m going to have to give this game a thumbs down, from a playability standpoint

  11. Caiman says:

    Is the Space Sim going to be the new “Arkanoid clone” for indie developers?

  12. Paul says:

    That was pretty fun. I liked the virtual cockpit and the subtle highlighting of the canopy glass. Good for immersion, but it could have used a padlock like fight sims instead of that external view.

  13. P Dante says:

    Megabits you shay…

  14. Darkmatter says:

    This is the most fun I have had with a space shooter in as long as I can remember! It manages to include a sense of scale, which in turn leads to a feeling of speed as you zip around capital ships. The backgrounds too! planets taking up half the screen! I’m in love. I can’t wait til this is finished so I can spend hard earned dollars on it.

  15. po says:

    I like how it manages to get the motion and controls right. There’s inertia. I was surprised when I hit the afterburners, turned around and found myself flying backwards. There are also fully 3D controls with roll and thrust on all 3 axes. Now I’ve just got to work out how to map them to a normal joystick (If you can call a HOTAS Cougar normal).

    If this ends up being modding friendly the B5 fans are going to love it, as there’s finally an engine that can support the Starfury’s flight style properly. I look forward to that, as I’m currently enjoying throwing BF2’s AIX mod’s Littlebirds around, and am just itching to try something even more manoeuverable.

  16. Crazyboy says:

    Heresy War is one of the 4 finalists in the 2beegames indie game competition. So vote for it if you wanna see it developed into a finished game.

    The final day of voting is today! http://www.2beegames.com