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It’s a great time to be a fan of space combat games, and the latest release for us is Gratuitous Space Battles 2 which I’ve taken a look at.

The game was ported to Linux thanks to Ethan Lee, who has done quite a number of ports for us now. He’s much like Ryan Gordon in the way that he ports a lot of other people’s games. His ports are usually good too.

About the game
Have you ever wanted to be admiral of a huge, sprawling space battle-fleet of your own design? Ever wanted to design a fleet of battle-cruisers so powerful they can rip all who oppose them into space-dust? Ever wanted to build a battleship with purple rotating radars and 64 engines? Well we have good news for you...

Gratuitous Space Battles is back! and it's approximately 50,000 times more gratuitous than before. A completely new ground-up rebuilding of the custom 'Gratuitous Engine' gives the game a completely new look, with beam-lasers 10x as 'beamy' as explosions 10x more gratuitous.

My thoughts
Port/Performance
I played a little bit of the original Gratuitous Space Battles which was interesting, but I didn’t play too much of it. So I’m going into this with a fresher mind than some people.

Sadly, it’s not the smoothest release around for me, as the game does have noticeable graphical problems. The main problems are things flashing between black/dark hard to see objects, and the correct colourful ships and planets. That bug happens a lot for me, and it does somewhat spoil the experience.
There are other graphical bugs too, as certain ships like to turn invisible, leaving only their engine trail and they suddenly reappear when blown up.

General performance is good though, and I have been getting a stable 60FPS from it with an occasional minor drop.

Gameplay
Gameplay wise it is interesting, but I’m not sure if I quite dig it myself. I am a strategy fan for sure, but this is a whole different kind of strategy to me.

While you get to build and customize your ships, and sort out their orders before the battle, you have zero control of the units during the battle. This makes the entire game a repeating trial and error affair, with you repeatedly playing the same battles over and over until you figure out a pattern that will obliterate the enemy fleet. Personally, I would much rather be able to adjust my tactics during the battle, as you would do in normal strategy games when you have direct control.

I turned off the chatter at the top of the screen that I guess is to try and immerse you into the game a little more, but for a game that’s all about explosions, lasers and colourful ships, I found it distracting. It’s great that it is an option as options keep me happy.

I’m not entirely sure the AI is working properly either, as I’ve been in multiple battles where a number of enemy ships never move, or fire, so again that made the experience a little flat.

I tried tinkering around with the graphics options to see if they fixed the bugs, but nothing helped, and I started seeing more issues like the UI during battles not appearing.

Final Verdict: It's far, far too buggy right now to enjoy it at all. I have faith that Ethan will be able to fix the issues, as he knows his stuff. I would hold off for the moment until the graphical bugs are fixed though. Once these graphical bugs are fixed, I imagine my experience will be a little more enjoyable.

Check out Gratuitous Space Battles 2 on Steam or on GOG.com. Article taken from GamingOnLinux.com.
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3 comments

Purple Library Guy 17 Apr, 2015
Back when I heard the game title "Gratuitous Space Battles" I thought "Wow! Cool!"
But when I started reading reviews and stuff, I always got the impression that it just wasn't really space-battle-y enough. Like, it didn't seem to actually do most of my favourite things about building space fleets and fighting battles with them. The review points out one of them: You don't actually get to fight the battle, you just sort of point your fleet at the enemy and then watch the movie.
The other thing I like about space fleet stuff is building elaborate, clever spaceships with interesting technologies calculated to do various nefarious things to the enemy. Like overwhelm them with brute firepower and/or missile swarms, or run rings around them potshotting from range, or unleash hordes of vicious fighters, or use subtle tech against which they are defenseless to disable them, or open small black holes directly in their line of flight, or use gravity rays to make them smash into each other--all using cunning ship designs to exploit the capabilities I choose to emphasize.
Anyway, I was surprised that when I looked into it, it seemed like GSB wasn't especially awesome in that department either; not terrible, but not nearly as good as one might expect for a game that didn't have to worry about all the 4X stuff and could concentrate on just the fleets.
All in all, if I want to watch a movie of an awesome space battle maybe I'll grab some classic anime or something. But for all the good 4X titles out there, I'm not sure the space battle goodness I'm looking for has really been made yet.
oldrocker99 20 Apr, 2015
Hmmm. I understand the problems with creating an armada and then only watching the action, and that is sort of what turned me off to the original.

That being said, my Favorite Game Ever, Dominions 4, has always been "prepare your armies, and then watch the battle" in its core gameplay. This is not a problem within the game; in fact, it's a feature as far as I'm concerned.

GSB 2 does appear, from the video, to allow a far greater customization of one's fleet than before, when you simply selected ships and decided on a formation. I will also mention that it won't necessarily go on my Steam wishlist.
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