Twin Systems: Starpoint Gemini 2

This is the year in which I finally fulfilled my childhood dream by becoming an interest following a man who lives on a space station on Twitter. You might think that would be enough hot space action to satisfy my stellar carvings but you’d be wrong. I’ve got a hankering for space dust that’d make George Jung’s eyes as big as saucers. Thank the lord (or the ancient precursor race that seeded this planet) that we are living through a space game renaissance. It’s possible that Elite: Dangerous, once complete, will satisfy all cravings but perhaps some Starpoint Gemini 2 will provide sustenance in the meantime?

Out now, SG 2 is ‘a tactical space simulator with tons of RPG depth’, according to the developers. I’ve seen it described as everything from a modern take on Freelancer to a sort of EVE Offline. The truth is somewhere in the middle of those poles, I believe. You’ll be in control of a single ship but able to capture new vessels (with over seventy types available) once sufficiently wealthy and skilled.

There is a story but, as is often the case, the sandbox is the place to be, even if the tiny little grains of sand have coalesced into planets and stars. There’s a system of stations and planets to explore and the general consensus indicates that there’s plenty of good times to be had. Not quite as exciting as Elite: Dangerous but as fine an alternative to X: Rebirth, expansion or not, as you might hope for.

Tempted to investigate? Or perhaps you’ve already been playing, either in Early Access or since release. My cursor is hovering over the purchase button even now but I’m far too busy to become a space captain for the umpteenth time. It’s back to twitternauts for me.

29 Comments

  1. Luringen says:

    Fun for a while, but starting to feel like theres not enough to do. The ship economy is frustrating as well, as you cant “climb” a ship ladder, doing small upgrades in ship models due to sell prices being a tenth of buy prices.

    • po says:

      That’s something I liked about Galaxy on Fire 2’s trading (it’s available on PC, but to be honest you’d be better off installing an Android emulator to play the Android version). Within a station both buy and sell prices are the same, so there was never any feeling of getting stuck with something once you’ve bought it, and you could actually get a good trade-in price for your ship.

  2. iucounu says:

    I feel a bit bad about the tweeting astronauts, because I tend to unfollow them once they come down from the ISS and aren’t tweeting orbital photographs any more. As reasons to unfollow you on Twitter go, “not currently zooming through the thermosphere at 28000 kph” seems a bit churlish, but hey.

  3. Hex says:

    Are these games not all a little samey? I haven’t played anything in this genre (except maybe an EVE trial or two), but the video footage seems like it could be all from the same game, for the most part.

    • Napalm Sushi says:

      I’d say that’s more symptomatic of the aesthetic and thematic rut that popular sci-fi seems to have been in for a while now.

      • zero signal says:

        Agreed, though I’d say games are not trying terribly hard even with respect to mainstream sci fi. I would like to see one of these games set in something like Iain M Banks’s Culture universe, for example.

        • MacTheGeek says:

          I’d forgo another space game for a playable version of Azad.

    • Vin_Howard says:

      It’s all about as “same” as all fps’s since they involve shooting people in the first person.

      It’s all about as “same” as all rts’s since they all involve controlling several units from a top-down perspective.

      It’s all about as “same” as racing games since they all involve driving some sort of vehicle through a course.

      • nrvsNRG says:

        I wouldn’t say its quite the same as the analogies you mention. With space games its a far more restricted genre. SG2 is a great game, but it became too repetitive quickly. For me the idea of playing these games is always far more appealing then actually playing them.

      • Hex says:

        I dunno, in my experience, the FPS genre offers fewer variations and unique gameplay experiences than the RTS genre, and probably more than the racing genre (for what I get out of it, anyway).

        These space-sim games seem more akin to racing than RTS, in terms of all offering what appears (to me, an outsider) to be more-or-less the same experience.

        While with FPS it usually comes down to clicking on something once your mouse is hovering over it, still … there’s co-operative FPS games, team-competitive, free-for-all. Story-driven games, games with no story at all. Games where you can command a squad of AI teammates, games where you can’t. There’s a extensive variety of FPS games.

        And with RTS you get economy-focused RTS, military-focused RTS, base-building RTS, no-infrastructure RTS, RTS where thousands of units swarm over a notional continents, and RTS where a handful of guys face off against seemingly insurmountable odds. Another genre with a smorgasbord of options.

        I guess my question was — are these space-sim games as varied as you find in FPS/RTS/TBS what-have-you genres?

      • Baines says:

        At least to some people, it is more like seeing “modern warfare” FPS bleeding together or how all the WWII FPS could look similar, even though a modern warfare FPS didn’t look like a WWII FPS.

        Even when there are differences between the current crop of space games, from a casual view they do look rather samey. Vaguely similar mechanics in a similar setting have that effect, and “space” looks almost interchangeable in some of these games.

  4. Phantasma says:

    Played since the beta and although i seem to have some kind of weak spot for this game, i’m not sure what to really think of it.

    The developers evidently put much love and dedication into their work, but it never exceeds in any field and lacks polish.

    Graphics are nice, but space often feels cramped and a bit generic.

    The interface, though somewhat efficient, is a ugly mess, that overslept the last 10 years of UI design advancements (e.g. there’s a big, garishly coloured Simon-says-like wheel in the galaxy map, riddled with obscure pictograms.)

    Trading and missions all work well, nothing outstanding but as much fun as in other space sims.

    But one big caveat i have to leave here is the story mode.
    I could bear the writing and voice-acting no longer than one and a half missions before i had to restart in freeform mode, and definitly not the kind of “so bad it’s almost good again.”
    I’m beginning to think they should have left it out altogether, because this will haunt them by the time the reviews start coming in.

    There’s certainly a good amount of fun to be had, but it’s a positively average experience.
    I fired it up again on release day, but after playing for a few hours, it only generated the strong urge to go back to Elite: Dangerous, which does everything better besides story mode, but that’s honestly no real loss.

    A few years ago i might have liked it more, but the competition in this particular genre became too fierce to really recommend it.

    • nrvsNRG says:

      “I could bear the writing and voice-acting no longer than one and a half missions before i had to restart in freeform mode, and definitly not the kind of “so bad it’s almost good again.”
      I’m beginning to think they should have left it out altogether, because this will definitly haunt them by the time the reviews start coming in.”

      100% agree with you here.

    • JaminBob says:

      Ok. I’m tempted. Do you get a crew? Does space feel ‘big’? (you seem to suggest not), can I be a space trucker? How hard is it?

      Cos I’m itching for a nice space game… But can’t make my mind up. Thanks for your post its illuminating.

      • Phantasma says:

        You can hire a few crewmen but they are just icons with stat boosts.
        5% more railgun damage here, 10% less energy consumption there.
        That kind of stuff.

        You can theoretically fly in every direction but all points of interest are conveniently aligned on a plane and in direct vicinity to each other.
        More like a typical RPG with planets or stations as quest hubs and a bit of space-scenery in between.

        Making money with hauling goods from A to B is possible, if that’s your cup of tea.
        But generating wealth seems a bit slow, you are making a few hundred bucks profit with a run, then see that the next interesting ship is priced in the millions and quickly lose some motivation. Same for quests.
        But maybe that will get adjusted further down the line.

      • farrier says:

        You can hire crew members for roles on the ship. I’m not sure if it increases, but at the start you can have three. “All” they seem to do is give you perks (boosted weapon damage, shields, speed, etc).

        It seems like it would be big, and travel between waypoints/interesting places where you’d want to be can take a while, but “cramped” as Phantasma says is probably the best description for me too. It feels big until suddenly you’re at your destination, and you realize you didn’t actually go very far.

        It’s fine. It can be comfortingly repetitive, if you take my meaning, by repeating trade and pirate-hunt missions. If you really love the genre, depending on your mood it’ll be either a good filler until another space game comes out or a bland disappointment. There are some people who love it, and the Devs seem great and enthusiastic about the game on their Steam forum. I had some fun with it and may poke around more, but it’s more like slapping on a nicotine patch to avoid buying a pack of that Elite: Dangerous beta until it’s fully released and cheaper.

        I give it three shrugs out of five, with hands spread and palms up and a half smile that’s more like a wince when you think about it.

  5. MiniMatt says:

    Appreciate a WIT on this one at some point (to complement the admittedly comprehensive reader summaries).

  6. Hmm-Hmm. says:

    That voice-over. I assume most fans of the genre will have a look regardless of such a trailer, but it’s like they don’t even bother. Replacing that voice-over with text is probably an improvement.

    • Hunchback says:

      It’s worse in the game… :D

      • Phantasma says:

        It almost made me chuckle when your ship computer announces “unfriendly targets in the vicinity.”
        Sounds more like someone wants to take your lunch money or criticise your sense of fashion than posing a real threat.

        But that’s nothing compared to the dialogue.

  7. Hunchback says:

    Check my post on the X expansion thread.

  8. Krazen says:

    It’s a nice little Freespace clone that while a bit basic in places, gets enough right to make it fun. What it does lack at present should easily be fixable by the devs who are very active and mod support.

  9. J. Cosmo Cohen says:

    Just wanted to say this is my first spaceship game, and I really love it. I picked it up a few weeks ago because of how active and friendly the community (and the devs) were on the Steam forums. I don’t have anything to compare it to, but I do know that I’m actually looking forward to other spaceship games in the future because of how impressed I am with this game.

  10. Kempston Wiggler says:

    Well, it’s a definite improvement over the first game, particularly in the graphics department (Space is black again, hurrah!). However, the ‘average-ness’ of the gameplay/mechanics is starting to grate on me a little. I keep thinking I should be having more fun than I am instead of grinding the same jobs ad infinitum for scraps of coin. It reminds me of an obscure space game called Spaceforce: Rogue Universe, which was the same kind of average, bob-a-jobbing space experience with generous helpings of frustration and tedium soaked through it.

    And the voice-acting is terrible. Unbelievably, it’s still better than in the first game (where they must have gone out of their way to avoid decent voice-acting), but jesus I’ve got HOW MUCH MORE of this to sit through? Oh, I should be specific: it’s the cut-scenes I’m referring to. The in-game vocals are pleasantly inoffensive.

    wow, reading this back I’ve been a lot harsher than I meant to. I’m actually having fun with the game. A bit. It’s just not going to grip me like E:D or Limit theory will. Damning with faint praise: “It’s good enough to pass the time until the big boys arrive”.

  11. daver4470 says:

    I would play the heck out of a true EVE Offline.

  12. Gap Gen says:

    The word “twitternauts” makes me think of a game where you’re actually flying around Twitter.
    “Hold steady, we’re approaching the Gamergate.”
    “Shields at 100, captain. No, wait, 96. 92. Shields are failing, captain.”
    “Hold steady…”
    “I can’t, the entitlement field is too strong! Pull out! Pull out!”
    “I said hold steady, ensign!”
    *ship explodes*

  13. Caiman says:

    I’d actually like to see more of your stellar carvings, Adam.

  14. mickiejames478 says:

    I dunno, in my experience, the FPS genre offers fewer variations and unique gameplay experiences than the RTS genre, and probably more than the racing genre (for what I get out of it, anyway).

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