Published on September 24th, 2014 | by Tony Odett0
Summary: Spacecom is minimalist in a good way, offering quick 4X action and good multiplayer fun
I play many, many of highly-complex, over-involved strategy games. I find them immensely entertaining. Yet, though I enjoy multiplayer games, I almost always play strategy games alone. Such games tend to be long affairs, not conducive to getting friends together. Plus, the level of complexity of most of these game tends to scare my friends away. It is with all this in mind that the new title Spacecom arrives, a solution to the strategy multiplayer problem.
Spacecom is a highly-simplified 4-X space game. There are no complex research trees (in fact, the game doesn’t even include research) or overwhelming levels of options. Elements like governments, taxation, and so forth are stripped out in favor of a game that allows quick play and quick access. Most game missions (and certainly multiplayer games) end in about 20 minutes. Spacecom is a fast, easily accessible, and entertaining game.
The game universe consists of worlds hubbed together. Some of the worlds have a designated quality, for instance, the ability to repair fleets or generating extra supply. The most important worlds are those that allow you to build ships. Matches tend to center around those few ship building worlds. Lose yours and you’ll find that you’re on the quick path to defeat.
Action flows around your fleets, of which there are three different kinds. Battlefleets do the ship-to-ship thing well, siege fleets can reduce worlds to ashes (rendering them useless for the entire match) and invasion fleets land troops to take over enemy worlds. Invasion fleets can also be scrapped to provide a garrison for a recently conquered planet, though I preferred to just build a new one from scratch. The three fleet types, combines with a force limit, means that some hard choices need to be made while fleshing out your armada. Do I need a large battlefleet to get superiority over the enemy world? But if I build too many warships, I won’t have enough invasion fleets to actually capture the planet. Planets can be upgraded with more advanced defenses like planetary shields, making them more difficult to capture.
The game prides itself on quick matches with tough decisions based on few options, not on many. Spacecom also includes a number of interesting logistical components, despite its minimalist nature. Fleets above enemy planets will slowly suffer attrition, making an easy combat victory a hollow one without a follow-up invasion. Planets with fleet-building capabilities get the materials to build those fleets from surrounding planets. Thus, if you’re unable to capture a fleet-building planet, you can still cripple it by intercepting the resource flow. Those mechanics allow for a number of different strategies.
Spacecom does have two keys weaknesses, however. I noticed that, perusing the multiplayer server, there were very few opponents, even on launch day. This game, with its multiplayer focus, will only be as successful as the community wants it to be. There is a single player campaign, but it’s very short (you’ll finish it in maybe three hours or so) and serves as more a tutorial as the meat of the game is meant to be the multiplayer. And a minor nitpick- whenever I select a fleet, a box opens up right next to the fleet with the ship details. That box was pretty frequently in my way, especially when I was attempting any maneuvers down and to the right. I could move the box, but it would have been nice if it appeared as a sidebar and not right in the middle of the action.
Spacecom is a fine little game. If you have a friend looking to get into strategy gaming, but whose eyes glaze over with more detailed efforts like Galactic Civilizations, Spacecom is an excellent starting point. I do wish the single player campaign was a little more robust, and I’m guessing the minimalist nature of the visuals will turn off some players before they give the game its shot. That said, Spacecom’s level of detail is just right, offering exactly what is advertised- a quick playing strategy game, giving you that 4X feeling in a mere fraction of the time, resulting in a rewarding experience for those players who take the leap.