I have been playing Star Citizen Arena Commander since pretty much launch and my first impression of the game is that it is a blast. Now is time for a review as in depth that I can make with little to no sleep.
The very first thing to note is that this Arena Commander patch that just came out marks the beginning of actual playable alpha. Star Citizen previously launched a hanger where you could walk around and admire the cool graphics, but let’s be honest here, no matter how good something look, it won’t matter unless it is fun. So here with Arena Commander we get our first glimpse at what the game will look like.
The very first thing we have to note about this game is that it is hungry for power. Just the 10.5 gig download to be able to play this miniature version of the game really goes to show just how massive this thing will be in just a year from now. I can already see people living in shitty-internet ville having some difficulties with this since it can often means you use a good chunk of your bandwidth limit just to download the game…let alone play it !
I did run into some problem after downloading and installing the game where the launcher would display a continuous message saying “please wait” instead of the “Launch” option that should be available. In my case this was easily fixed simply by restarting the launcher, but I am aware that other people have different issues with the launcher. Another problem with the release of this patch (although this one might be a temporary logging error because of the launch) is a cannot connect / login error message once you start the game. This seems to be related to the game being unable to authenticate to the server properly. There is no way to “fix” the problem, only thing that can be done is relaunching the game over and over again until you finally manage to get in.
This constant relaunching will make you familiar with the first important realize for Star Citizen which is…this game takes a long time to load. I haven’t tried playing the game on my SSD as I feel the game would outgrow its limited 160G pretty quickly, but this game took significant amount of time to do the initial loading and all subsequent loading between instances. But it is all worth it, because now we get into the actual game.
Beginning the Game
Things look beautiful, this is the first thing anyone can say in this game. We are not in a world where little detail go to waste. You cannot just jump through a punch of menu option and poof appear in a ship. You have to actually open the latch of your ship, then you can climb inside, walk your way to the pilot seat, sit down, and THEN you can use the menu to begin the Arena Commander experience. Some people might find this a repetitive and unneeded task, but I feel like this added touch of realism is what will make the game so immersive for most.
Currently the game is available in multiplayer to only a select few, but as things moves along more and more people will have access to it. I unfortunate didn’t have the chance to test out the multiplayer, but the single player simulation was a blast already. The single player arena so far is called “Drone Sim” and let you choose between 2 maps and 2 modes. The maps are mostly a matter of cosmetic change, considering you float in space the only different is the kind and amount of obstacles floating around. The different modes on the other hand are interesting. The first one, called Free Flight, let you fly around the map with no enemies. You can get used to the commands and learn how to pilot. This might sound like an easy task, but trust me, this game wants you to take control than more the steering wheel and the guns. The second mode is called “Vanduul Swarm” and is essentially a wave arena system where stronger and stronger enemies come at you and 2 allied ship and you have to take them down. Having played over 1h30 of Vanduul Swarm so far, I can tell you that even against A.I this game is fun.
Since the Arena Commander was my first introduction to the game, I had not walked around before in the hanger and never learned the basics of how to move around and use object. Since I am a stupid man and decided not to read any manual, I went straight into the game and pressed all the button on my keyboard before figuring out that “f” was the key to activate objects. It was quite interesting to press every single button, since when you are using your ship at least 60% of your keyboard does an important action. This game want you to press buttons and a lot of them. The first half hour of play is mostly a game of memorization and trying out every options to figure out just what you can do exactly. There are many radar options, lock ins, overlay menu to give you information about your current status and more.
Now, about an hour in, you know your control, you know how to fly (kinda) you are ready for the real thing against the A.I. It must have taken me a good 10 minutes before I managed to kill my first enemy and 2 hours later, I can kill 6 in 5 minutes. Everything seems so overwhelming at first, the complex command, the 3 dimensions to navigate and the speed of the fight…but once you get into it, it is so much fun and feel so natural.
I had a choice between 3 kind of weapon, 2 burst lasers and 1 type of missile. The lasers worked using energy, once the energy depleted I could either wait for it to reload, or I could just keep on holding down the button for it to shoot whenever enough energy would be available. The missile worked differently and were the most fun and rewarding to use. You have to lock in to a target first to use a missile, for that you need to keep the enemy on your reticule for a few seconds before you get them locked. From there, you can fire a missile that will seek after them.
If shooting a missile a someone is fun, it is just as fun to try to evade one. Another tool that you are armed with are flares. You can try to use those to avoid missile while using a speed boost to get away. While I still struggle at it, there is nothing more satisfying than seeing a missile explode a few hundred meters away from you and knowing you avoided it.
What if you don’t avoid it? Well, just wait a few seconds, you will die and from there you can simply respawn and keep on having fun. You can also eject from your ship if it gets unmaneuverable. Seeing your character eject out of an out of control and burning space ship is something so great to see it is great to know you can relive that moment for ever and ever now thanks to this video game.
- Fast Paced
- Immensely Fun
- Multiplayer functionality limited to select few
- Really Demanding to Run
- Long Load Time
- Launch Bugs
Overall I loved my experience with Star Citizen so far, knowing that this is not even a full alpha experience makes me shivers at what will come next. The multiplayer experience will expand to everyone over time and new modes will be added for it during this alpha. For more information about it, you can look it up here:
ZeroGhj signing off