We Don’t Just Post About Steam, Right

We also post about Stardock’s Impulse thinger, which is like Steam, only different. They have a sale on and look at this: Galactic Civilizations I: Ultimate for $3.99, Space Rangers 2 Complete for $3.99, Supreme Commander for $9.99, and Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords for $9.99. Ace.

Anyone using Impulse out there? Thoughts? Complaints? Concise user-reviewers to inform and aid your fellow consumers in their task of identifying and purchasing entertainment bargains? Anything?


  1. Donald Duck says:

    Wawawewawa! I’ve been thinking of getting SP2 for some time. Now is the time, the hourglass has struck, the times are a-changing.

  2. G says:

    Has anyone played the Space Rangers expansion? Does it make much difference?

  3. qrter says:

    I wanted to buy the Witcher EE through Impulse, but it has those stupid region restrictions.


  4. Obdicut says:

    I’ve used it. Works just fine. The ‘impulse dock’ thing annoys me but my girlfriend actually likes it.

    I remember setup being very slightly wonky, but only in that “Ooh-this-is-a-problem-wait-figured-it-out-now-I-feel-smart” way.

  5. Joe says:

    I bought GCII from Impulse, and got some pretty fantastic download speeds – I had 10 mb/s download, compared to the around 300 kb/s download speed I generally get from Steam.
    Still can’t quite get my head around the game though…

  6. Nelson says:

    The Impulse dock has been removed from automatic install. You can still get it for free though and yes, I do like it.

    I think Impulse is going through some growing pains, but it’s shaping up to be a nice DL service. It’s good that Steam and others get some competition. I’d hate the future of gaming to rest in the hands of one mega company.

  7. Militant Camel says:

    GC2 is an excellent game, well worth ten bucks.

  8. Colthor says:

    I’ve been wanting Space Rangers 2 for ages, so for less than three quid? Bargain :)

    As for Impulse, having to enter the serial you get by email into the client to register the game to the account you were logged in to when you bought it is a bit rubbish.
    Maybe it was just because I used PayPal with a different email address.

    But otherwise it’s faster to load than Steam on my laptop, and I don’t think you need it running to play stuff. So I’ll let it off.

  9. roryok says:

    I’ve been thinking of getting SP2 for some time.

    Space Pangers 2?

  10. Paul Moloney says:

    About time I bought GG2; done. Beware the space rabbits.


  11. Heliocentric says:

    NO DUMMY service pack 2 for xp.

  12. Hypocee says:

    Arrgh, I just finally shelled out a couple of weeks ago for GC2 and SR2 (and BreakQuest, which is the best Breakout ever thanks to PHYSICS). Oh well, obviously I can’t complain about paying what I judged a fair price…

    Impulse is much more basic than Steam – you get yer codes via email and copy-paste them in. It’s less well-integrated and feels a little anachronistic, but I get the impression it’s supposed to be more hands-off for the sake of reliability and consumer freedom. It didn’t bug me and of course I had no issues with my installations, shrug.

  13. Fede says:

    Impulse manages somehow to get 10% higher download speed than anything else here. No idea how.
    Apart from that, it’s getting better, as it used to be much more buggy.

  14. Citizen Parker says:

    The Impulse dock has been removed from automatic install

    Oh my, I may have to reinstall it and give it another look then. I bought a flavor of GalCiv2 on Impulse quite some time ago. Between the learning curve and the incredibly infuriating Impulse Dock, I decided to uninstall both.

    My dock-loathing kept me away from trying Sins of a Solar Empire for that same reason.

  15. Leelad says:




  16. Pidesco says:

    I found out about this yesterday and immediately proceeded to get Space Rangers 2 Complete, as I hadn’t tried the expansion yet, and it’s Starforce free.

    It’s as awesome as I remembered it, and at 4 bucks it’s the bargain of the decade.

    The only bummer is that it doesn’t seem to have any detailed description of the changes Reboot brought. No manual, no nothing.

  17. Sisyfos says:

    Can someone please talk me into buying SR2? I’ve been at the checkout but can’t be arsed to fill out the forms… i need some motivation people!

  18. Kestrel says:

    yah, SD is working hard to make Impulse a slimmed-down, efficient, and user-friendly Steam-killer.

    I like it because it doesn’t have to run to play your games and it is really really fast.

    If you are having to copy-paste the serial number to register the game its because you are using a different e-mail address. Impulse links one e-mail address to your account.

  19. Azhrarn says:

    Only problem I have with Impulse is part of it’s secure connection design. Because it runs the secure HTML strait from Impulse and not IE or FF my Firewall kills the connection for that part of the program. Flagging it dangerous. No amount of permissions set in the firewall lets me use it, short of disabling the firewall that is.
    No matter though, I can also purchase through their website, because the downloads and updates work just fine through Impulse.

  20. jackflash says:

    Totally picked up SR2. Been wanting to try it out for a long time. Impulse is fine. Pretty unobtrusive, slick design. I’m a fan. Can anybody recommend SupCom? I love Sins of a Solar Empire, which everyone says is what SupCom “should have been.”

  21. Ginger Yellow says:

    “Can someone please talk me into buying SR2? I’ve been at the checkout but can’t be arsed to fill out the forms… i need some motivation people!”

    What more motivation do you need? It’s awesome. It’s mental. It’s hilarious. It’s Russian. IThere’s nothing else quite like it. It costs less than a Big Mac.

  22. Hypocee says:

    Sisyfos – Gillen wrote thousands of words about it. You could also play the King’s Bounty demo to see if you like their style of procedural bizarrity, it’s the same folks.

  23. subedii says:

    Would’ve bought Supreme Commander or Gal Civ if I didn’t already own them.

    Experience with Impulse so far has been good. It’s not quite as fully featured as Steam, but it’s still relatively new. There’s also a few differences compared to Steam, the page you’re given acts as a blog, and not just a community page like on Steam (can’t say I’m really into blogging, but other people seem to have put this to a lot of use). Game channels work through IRC (I think), and you can form separate chat groups through there.

    It also has the added benefit of not needing to be online once you’ve purchased the game (assuming it’s a singleplayer game), which is always a good bonus.

  24. roryok says:



    Just wait for EA SecureForced, Amazon JuiceFuelled, Rockstar GreedMotivated and Apple iPlay.

    Because Apple always have to have their own dumb way of doing things

  25. Homunculus says:

    Balls. It was only a couple of days ago that I finally managed to track down a hard copy of Space Rangers: Reboot in the UK, for which I paid a comparitively pretty penny.

  26. Homunculus says:

    FOLLOW UP QUESTION: I have the UK original disk release of Space Rangers 2, with the added bonus of Starforce. If I install that, then immediately follow up with Reboot, does that prevent Starforce from activating (i.e. going through the bit where it tells you to reboot your computer so it can install itself)?

  27. Hypocee says:

    If you’re talking apropos this SR2 Complete deal, you get SR2 anyway – Reboot by itself is still full price, so I think you’d have to be a bit mad to pay lots more for the privilege of trawling through tech-gubbins. To which the answer is almost certainly no, by the way.

  28. Konky Dong 1000 says:

    I kind of hate the Impulse dock. Aside from being ugly, half the time it randomly crashes and won’t come back up unless I restart my computer. I eventually just uninstalled it, Sins of a Solar Empire just wasn’t worth the hassle.

  29. RichPowers says:

    Steam and Impulse weekly deals!?

    PC: the platform of choice for cheapasses!

  30. Azhrarn says:

    @Homunculus, if you enter the games CD-key in Impulse it might even let you download the clean version of the full game. No need to risk StarForcing your PC, if it works that is. :)

  31. subedii says:

    @ RichPowers: Well it WOULD be if the initial overlay didn’t necessarily cost so much :P

    Still you’re right, between Steam, Impulse and GOG my wallet’s getting nickle and dimed into oblivion. But you get a lot for those nickles and dimes.

  32. Morte says:

    Just bought Space Rangers 2, since it seems crazy not to at that price. I also bought GalCiv using their previous system.

    I think “Impulse” is pretty good on the whole. It’s not as pretty or integrated as Steam, but it doesn’t take 45 seconds to launch every single time you want to play something for half an hour either. Plus there’s no proprietary discussion nonsense, to stop you accessing forums with a normal browser from work at lunchtime. It just does the buy/download/update thing, it doesn’t try to take your life over like Steam. Thumbs up.

  33. Nick S says:

    I bought SR2, GalCiv and GalCiv2 last night. Obviously this deal aims to get people to sign up for and experience Impulse, and it worked for me, but I don’t think I’ll buy anything else from Impulse again.

    It really offers no advantage to me over Steam, not even DRM-wise. If I’m going to be “subscribing” to a “game as a service” from a company, what matters most is the stability of that company, and I think Valve is the safest bet of all the current providers.

    Impulse is pretty glitchy, but I imagine it will improve. I ran into problems with it disliking the ESCified Internet Explorer on my system (but the game downloading still works, so that’s fine) and with not having enough hard drive space on the default C:-partition for 3 copies of the one game I’ve tried installing so far (it needs 1. a downloaded copy of the game, 2. an extracted copy of the game, and 3. the installed copy of the game. It deletes 1 and 2 once installation is finished). And then stardock’s servers were down and I couldn’t download the game or log back into Impulse for an hour after I changed the download and extraction folder to another partition (which helpfully deleted the downloaded game and required a complete re-download). But I suppose this sale is putting previously unexperienced load on their system.

    Compared to GOG, this is a much less appealing system. For some reason I’d thought Stardock were no-DRM guys, but if this is their opinion of what no DRM looks like, that’s like saying the only problem with Securom is when it requires a CD in the drive to play. Impulse has some sort of backup system that they seem to be pushing as insurance against the failure of their service, but as far as I can tell all that does is create an encrypted copy of the downloaded game, which still needs to be authenticated, extracted, and installed by Impulse and Stardock’s servers, which is pretty much the same as Steam’s backup.

    So I don’t see where the market is for “not quite as inconvenient as Steam, but more inconvienient than GOG.” Unless it’s going to be cut-rate pricing like the current sale. Because $4 isn’t too bad, even if I only get one play through and find Impulse gone next time I go to reinstall SR2.

    Homunculus: If (boxed?) Reboot doesn’t replace the game’s .exe with a StarForce-free one, you can always replace it with one from GCW. But doesn’t StarForce also get installed as part of the game’s installation, not just the first time you run it? I seem to recall that if you reboot after installing the game, before running it, the game loads straight up — indicating the drivers were installed and activated across the last reboot.

  34. Colthor says:

    It’s not as nice as GoG, I agree*, but after Impulse has installed something you do have a copy of the game sitting on your HDD that you can manually back-up/copy to other computers/etc. and it’ll probably still work (if the game doesn’t play silly buggers with the registry or whatnot). SR2 actually has a “setup” app in the game directory, so might also be able to install itself off-line, which would be nice.

    * Dear digital-download publishers, please just copy GoG. Thanks, Colthor.

  35. Polysynchronicity says:

    Just checking – this is the Steam-style, buy-one-download-whenever model, not the shitty EA Games “you get to download this once, or maybe for the next three months, and only install it once, and by the way if you lose your install you’re fucked”?

  36. Deuteronomy says:

    I prefer Direct2Drive over this and Steam.

  37. Colthor says:

    @Polysynchronicity: Yes, it’s buy-one-download-whenever.

  38. Arca says:

    Impulse is a pain in the ass for me sometimes (it hates booting up and shutting down) but otherwise it’s nice and easy to use… when it isn’t completely ignoring my perfectly legitimate GC2 copy.

    That said, I got the expansions for GC2 off of it in a pack deal (why hello there Mr. 20%-off-next-purchase-coupon-code-from-some-short-and-easy-survey) and it was worth it. Good download speeds and all that jazz. It’s just a bit rough around the edges right now… although it’s definitely an improvement over the old Stardock Central app.

  39. Grey_Ghost says:

    I’ve tried the GC2 demos, but I just didn’t have any fun with them. 8(
    Guess I’m more of a MoO2 kinda guy.

  40. Kestrel says:

    “For some reason I’d thought Stardock were no-DRM guys, but if this is their opinion of what no DRM looks like, that’s like saying the only problem with Securom is when it requires a CD in the drive to play.”

    Stardock is no-DRM as a publisher and developer. They can’t force all of the publishers/developers on their platform to go without DRM, though.

    Steam is the same way. Some games on Steam still come with Securom because that’s what the publisher wanted.

  41. Nick S says:

    Colthor: Yeah, but you can also do that with Steam + a cracked exe for the game. Considering both require a good bit of manual work and go against the wishes (and probably terms) of the service provider, I still don’t see Impulse’s slightly-less crappy DRM as a selling point.

    Kestrel: Oh, I thought GalCiv2 was by Stardock. If it is, it hasn’t proven any less Impulse-DRMed than SR2, except it also had an additional popup about serial code activation servers failing when I installed it.

  42. Wolfox says:

    If anyone wants to know what changed in SR2:Reboot, check this somewhat detailed changelog.

  43. anonymoose says:

    I purchased GC II from a store a year ago, and now use Impulse to update it. Grudgingly, TBH, though compared to the alternatives, I can’t complain too much. A few facts:
    – Stardock fudges a bit: all their titles have DRM, which they control using Impulse. They simply do not apply DRM to their physical media, in other words, the game you may buy at the store has no DRM on it. However, if you want to *patch* the game, and, like any developer/publisher out there, no unpatched game is ever complete until long after its initial release, you must use Impulse to authenticate your copy on any device you install the game on. The authentication is similar to Windows activation, in that it appears to fingerprint your individual machine and register a license for that machine only, so no “install once, zip up, and unzip on another PC” business. That other PC will need its own copy of Impulse, will need to phone home, and authenticate.

    – Impulse is currently NOT REQUIRED EVER for any other purpose other than activating the game once per install. You can literally look at it as a game-activator, and rid yourself of it after installation. It’ll work fine. This puts it far above Steam in my book. Impulse is trying to be a portal like Steam is, and more, but unlike Steam, you can wash your hands of it the minute your game is activated. It’ll never bother you again.

    – Stardock does not appear to place an EA-douchebag-level limit on activations, so have a ball, install your product on every PC in your house without worry. They do monitor such things loosely, however, and can probably disable your serial if they find 10,000 IPs all over the world light up with your serial overnight. If you have trouble, the staff is generally pretty helpful and human, but you’re not going to get away with not using Impulse.

    – Impulse, at this point, is not much more than a game activator/updater and Internet Explorer skin. It can’t quite compare with Steam, except as a DRM control mechanism and a means to drive users to their game store.

    – I’m not sure yet, but I believe that SR2 from Impulse does not have SecuROM.

  44. Kestrel says:

    Nick –

    yah, GalCiv II is Stardock.

    Maybe we just have different conceptions/tolerances on DRM? I think of Securom when I think DRM, invasive and scary, not Impulse phoning home when I want the latest patch…

    I guess both are technically digital rights management, but the latter is non-invasive enough that I sorta forgot about it….

  45. Subject 706 says:

    Impulse has actually come a long way since it got started. I used the Impulse beta, when updating Sins of a solar empire, and at that time, Impulse was a horrible mess. But then again, so was Steam at first.

    And for gods sake, controlling patching through impulse has got to be the most lenient for of DRM ever, considering how convenient and easy it is to get said patches through it. Do some people REALLY find that to be ‘orrible DRM??

  46. Nick S says:

    Subject 706: My comments about Impulse’s DRM were in relation to digital downloads purchased through it. When you purchase a game through Impulse, you need to ask Stardock’s (automated) permission every time you install/reinstall that game or upgrade your computer. Whether due to bankruptcy, a changing business plan, or just an account mix-up, it’s pretty much guaranteed that at some point I’m not going to be able to play my game any more, solely because of Stardock’s DRM. Not a big deal for a $4 game, but I wouldn’t have any interest in buying a $50 game from them ever.

    Apparently Stardock don’t currently include internet activation DRM in boxed copies of games, though I assume that it’s only a matter of time before they switch to a Valve-style system of the box’s primary contents being a serial number which activates the game through Impulse.

  47. Stromko says:

    Already had an import bundle of Space Rangers 2 from way back, but 4$ is a nice deal to have it without the nasty DRM. The expansion seems fairly minimal, but maybe the additional artifacts will help the mid and late-game balance. As I recall, enemies definitely scaled up, but rather than exactly on-par with player strength, it just happened over time or followed some other meter of progress.

    So I gave up probably two or three heavily played characters just because I couldn’t compete anymore. It’s a rather unique and intriguing game though, and I’m finding myself bored amidst this season of blockbusters, so it’s definitely worth 4$ to have an excuse to try it again. Besides it is an intriguing idea in an RPG to actually make things tougher as you progress rather than vice versa.

    I do hope Impulse manages to be secure without any nasty issues effecting legitimate users. Stardock Central never gave me a problem, but now they seem to have switched over to Impulse and I can only imagine the reason is either marketing or security-related. That they didn’t just turn SDC into Impulse via a patch seems like they weren’t trying to interfere with old customers, but, I had to make the switch simply to get the 2.0 patch for Galactic Civilizations II and its expansions.

  48. Tim says:

    I quite like impulse in it’s new incarnation. I don’t really like that it’s got a store section for strange windows apps I’ll never want. I’d prefer it if it was just a games store. but oh well. Are people buying games from this really the same people buying the apps?
    I like how it is very unobtrusive. It lets you do the updates and buy stuff, but it just gets out of the way after that, you can just never open it again once you have the game. And you never have to login to impulse to just play a game. Which is cool.

  49. Aftershock says:

    So goddamn tempting. $10 for SupCom and SR2..
    I’d rather Sins over GalCiv though.