Star Citizen 2.6 Review

Is it fair to review something that’s still in beta (alpha, even?). Since anyone can play it, and they’re still accepting money if you want to give it, I’d say yeah.

But I’ll clarify now this isn’t a judgement. This is the simplest definition of “review.” Perhaps “checking it out so you don’t have to” would be a better description.

So how goes the biggest crowdfunded project ever? It goes quite well, actually.

If you’re not familiar with Star Citizen, it’s a game by Chris Roberts, the guy behind the Wing Commander and assorted games (like Privateer and so on). What started as just a small space sim rapidly expanded into an open-world MMO with space and FPS elements. As the money from the Kickstarter campaign blossomed into something far more than anyone expected, the game went from “neat little space sim” to basically the biggest game of all time. Walk around a space city, go to your ship, walk onboard, take off, fly around space, land on a space station, walk around there… etc. All without loading screens. The idea is to have hundreds of ships, stations and planets, all ready for exploration, combat, and more.

To go along with that exponential increase in scope came a significant increase in development time. I found this reasonable, given how long most big games take to develop, even the ones that aren’t trying to do things never been done before. But it has been a while. The last time I wrote about SC was two years ago. A lot has changed since then, but 2.6, released last week, is one of the biggest expansions of the game yet.

The main feature added to 2.6 is “Star Marine,” the FPS aspect. Think of it like Call of Duty, but in spaaaaaace. Right now there are just two maps, but they’re gorgeous. Easily one of the best looking FPS available right now. Not just a CoD clone, Star Marine has two major aspects that make it quite different from other fast-paced shooters. First, is it’s tilts towards realistic. No running and gunning, bunny hopping, etc. If you’re moving, you probably wouldn’t hit a barn.

The other aspect is way cooler. You’re in space, so while most of the action is with normal gravity, you can go outside. Now you’re weightless (with a jetpack). Total freedom of movement adds a new dimension (literally) to gameplay.

They’ve got the feel right already, which is vital. I can’t wait for a new and potentially different gameplay styles. Right now there’s just deathmatch and point capture (vanilla stuff). Given the power of the engine, it’s clear they could do some really cool ship boarding/capture stuff. Maybe eventually.

2.6 also has a bunch of new flyable ships. Big ones too, like the now-massive Caterpillar (which I bought, it’s awesome). There’s just something so awesome being able to walk around a ship in a game, fly it somewhere, walk around the ship again, and then exit. That basically hasn’t been done before (at least not as seamlessly as this).

There are a handful of missions in space too.

So the real question is, if you haven’t bought a ship yet (which gets you into this long-term beta), is it worth it to buy in now? That’s complicated. Star Citizen is probably never going to have a “release” date, in that they’re going to keep rolling out new features over the coming months and years. OK, so maybe eventually there will be a “we’ve got all the major features in so this is the ‘full’ version for now” release, but that might be years away (though the single player campaign will likely hit next year).

The better question might be, is it worth spending $35 now to play around in the limited (but growing) game universe. I think so. I haven’t been bored yet, hopping on playing around on some space stations, stealing other people’s ships, trying a few missions, and so on. I don’t think there’s enough there to withstand 6 hours of non-stop gaming, but and hour or so when the mood hits you, sure.

Just keep in mind that because it’s still an early beta, it’s not as polished as other games, nor does it run as smoothly.

Or to put it even more simply, if the videos above look interesting, you’ll probably dig Star Citizen, even now. I am.