Space Siege – creative, huh? – casts players in the role of Seth Walker, bad-arse soldier and one of the last surviving members of the human race. Humanity has gone out into the stars, it seems, and not been all that good at making friends. The Alien Kerak has laid waste to the colonies, and, at the game’s start, has turned its attention to Earth. You and the 20,000 other survivors of the cataclysm are aboard the Armstrong, a vast space ship which serves as the game’s main setting.
You might be wondering at the links between the fantasy roots of the previous games this one. It’s kind of tenuous, as the control scheme is completely different, party mechanics are basic and limited at best, and looting stuff is treated in a rather abstract manner. In fact, we can’t help but think that the naming convention is little better than an attempt to cash in on previous popularity, rather then letting Space Siege stand on its merit.
Which, of course, raises the question... Does it have any?
It’s actually not an easy question to answer, truth be told, as despite a lot of flaws or poorly executed ideas, we nonetheless found ourselves quite drawn to the plot and the compelling clickfest that the game, at its heart, truly is.
Like the classic Diablo and of course the Dungeon Siege games, movement is simple – click where you want to go, and off wanders Seth to get there. Want to shoot a baddie? Click on the hapless mook and BOOM! they go. Confusingly, though, the camera is slaved to what in many games are the default move keys – WASD – so there’s some cognitive dissonance at play until you get used to it. More difficult are complex moves like dodging and moving about in combat. Seth, despite being a tough veteran, seems to have difficulty moving and shooting at the same time. Annoying. At least you eventually pick up a robot buddy to help you in exterminating aliens.
You can also employ a range of special close combat attacks, which are more devastating, but open you up to more risk. A host of exploding items left strewn around the Armstrong’s corridors add some complexity to the game, but most of the combat skill comes down to choosing the right enemy to shoot first.
Combat is the heart of the game, and that’s what character progression and upgrading is all about. Space Siege features a skill system very reminiscent of modern MMOs, where you can buy levels in certain talents and skills as you progress, opening up more and more as you level up. If you’ve played WoW or even Diablo II it’ll be very familiar. The only issue is that, while in a long-term game like WoW, incremental increases in ability of two percent mean something. In Space Siege, it just seems a little... meh.
It all looks good, at least, and we doubt it’ll tax most modern systems at all. Well-implemented physics means the battlefield can become quite hazardous as creates blow up and gas tanks cook off and zoom about the place, but, again, it all seems just bit of a gimmick.
And yet... we were entertained. The story is pretty cookie cutter, but regardless there’s a nice mystery to uncover, some interesting characters to pick up along the way, and, well, damn us if we still don’t get a kick out of clicking on stuff for hours on end.
There’s nothing ground-breaking about Space Siege, and ultimately is the gaming equivalent of popcorn. But we all still like popcorn, right? You’re not missing out on the next big thing if you don’t play Space Siege, but it’s mindless gaming fun at its most repetitively addictive.