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Review: Galaxy Online

Galaxy Online, IGG's first foray into the free-to-play online space sim strategy game, has recently been released into its beta phase, and we here at Blend Games had a chance to try out the game's alpha version.

Before I get too into my review, I'd just like to point out that as with all online games, there is always the possibility that in a week, this game will be entirely different than it is right now. Updates and patches are commonplace with MMOs, and they've been known to change the entire landscape of a game. Star Wars Galaxies, for example, changed so much with one of their patches that literally overnight they lost 75% of their subscriber base. Needless to say, these games can change.

All of the press releases for Galaxy Online sound like it's something really special. There's an entire galaxy filled with crap for you to do. You can become a businessman, you can become a warlord, you can just expand your civilization and be a pacifist; the entire time you're doing your own thing, so are hundreds of other players, all playing in a persistent world. It's a great concept.

But sometimes, good concepts aren't enough. Galaxy Online is not the game I thought it was going to be, and it's nowhere near as exciting as I was expecting. To help understand my frustration, I'll just simply explain exactly what I did. After logging in to the client, I created my character. There are six different factions to join, and while the descriptions make them sound different, I get the feeling that it doesn't really matter what you pick, it's just another way to classify yourself. After creating your character, you're then thrust into the world of Galaxy Online.

And it's overwhelming. There are planets, stars, suns, and spaceships everywhere. They're all just kinda thrown onto the map, and everything looks really busy. Not like things are going on, but as if the UI was designed by a blind man. I'm greeted by a happy anime character explaining that he's here to give me my tutorial.

"Thank God," I say to myself. "I want to understand what's going on here." The tutorial starts out fairly simple; "Welcome to our game", "this is how you find your base", etc. After the tutorial, I'm then told to have fun, and it suggests trying the beginner "quests" to get a better grasp on things. So I click on the star that says beginner quests. "Your quest is to build this type of building on your planet. Build 3 of them." It's fairly simple, and I figure it will help me get a hang on things. I click on my colony and am assaulted by numbers and symbols that I assume are different materials, similar to most RTS games. I navigate to the build button, and then click build. I wait a minute or two as the building finishes.

Quest complete! Now I have to build another building! Quest complete! Now upgrade your building. Quest complete! Now build this new, cooler building. Ooh, I'm sorry, you don't have enough materials. Yes, I was still in the beginner tutorial quests, I didn't have enough materials to continue on, and it didn't tell me how to get more materials. Needless to say, I was pretty aggravated.

The thing about Galaxy Online is that it reminds me of several free-to-play browser strategy games, which I've started dabbling in. These browser games are simple enough to have open at work, hop into for about three minutes, and then come back in a few hours to play a bit more. Galaxy Online seems like it has that same "wait and come back later while stuff happens" feel to it, but not being in a browser really hurts it. If I wanted to hop in and build something, it'd take me a few minutes to log in, find my planet, and set up the queue.

It's just a very confusing game, but a few content patches could really improve it down the road. First, they should make the game less scary. I don't know who could possibly look at this game and not be put off by the HUD. Second, they need to improve the tutorial. Even though the game was daunting, I wanted to learn it. I got the feeling that Galaxy Online didn't want me to understand it, as if it was made for a very specific group of people who know exactly what's going on. Apparently, Galaxy Online is not for me, and that's something I regret, because I love spaceships and strategy.

Players:Hundreds

Price:Free-to-play

Platform(s):PC

Developer:IGG

Publisher:IGG

ESRB:N/A

Website:Galaxy Online Website

Rating: