“ Manufacturer: Take 2 Interactive / Genre: Strategy „
In 2003, Firefly Studios bought us Space Colony, a strategy game dubbed 'The Sims' in space?! This was the tagline that came with this game but was it really just that. Or was it a game that would take you on an adventure and meet some strange beings on the way.
There are 3 game modes to play: campaign, galaxy and sandbox. The best place to start is campaign and it introduces the style and story of the game really well, as well as having a tutorial explaining the controls and all the different on screen icons. Once you have completed the tutorial, you really are set for your journey. The campaign mode follows the story of Venus Jones, a worker for Blackwater Industries. She is sent out to work on a distant planet by the evil Mr Blackwater.
With each mission, there are goals to meet to pass the mission and advance on. These are clearly shown on each screen and there are tips to help you pass. But once you understand the workings of the game, you will find you won't need the tips as much. At the beginning of the campaign you start with just a few colonists. The numbers will build up as the missions become harder but sometimes you won't always get the same colonists back from a previous mission. There are 20 colonists, including Venus Jones. Each colonists has there own personalties, likes and dislikes which you have to meet to keep them happy and working. Each of the 20 colonists have there own specialist skill and it is down to you to put them on a job. Like the sims, you can switch from colonist to colonist to direct and order them to do what you want.
The missions revolve around similar scenarios involving mining some minerals, harvesting resources of oxygen and energy, collecting food, developing relationships and fighting back against any impending alien attack! Starting with the industry side of the challenges, there are 14 different units to buy. Ranging from iron extractors to argon gas rigs. Oh and you can even have your own space chicken farm! Now that is cool! In the beginning there are only a few units available to buy to use to meet your goals. But again, as you advance, more and more items become obtainable. So with these different machines to work and run, you need to have somebody who has the right skill to use it. You can click on the colonists menu and it will show you which skill they have. For each different skill you can have different level of ability signalled by the number of stars next to the skill badge. The more stars, the more efficient and more able they are to do that job. You will need to buy warehouse space to store all that you harvest and mine.
In every mission you start by landing on a planet which has a bio-dome with a bridge control on it. There are 3 desks in the dome; oxygen, power and health. You need to instruct a colonist to work on each desk but they need the equipment to work with it. For oxygen you need to buy and place oxygen plants. There is a bridge control screen which will tell you if you need to buy more plants, so its easy not to run into trouble. With power you need an energy source. This can come from different objects; solar panels, iridium power plant and lava power plant. The easiest and the one you start with at the beginning is the solar panels. The iridium power plant is the more powerful power supply but you need a constant supply of iridium to make it work. The lava power plants have to be placed over volcanic vents so it can harvest the geothermal energy. However, lava beetles live nearby and will do there best to destroy your plant. Lastly the health needs a medical bay bought, for which your medical officer will then work on to make sure its ready for whenever someone gets hurt or is ill. To place a medical bay, you need to buy a bio-dome.
Bio-domes come in 3 different sizes; small, medium and large. They are needed as these are where the colonists live, eat, sleep and entertain themselves. You don't have to build a dome right next to each other as you are able to connect them via corridors. You also need airlocks so people can enter into each dome. To help with efficiency, space bikes are recommended to help your workers getting to and from places a lot quicker. To keep the workers happy and healthy you need to have enough beds, which you can assign yourself to a colonist, a mess hall to keep them well fed, personal hygiene pod, think shower. These are the basics but you also need to keep there happiness levels up by meeting there different needs. There are various different items to keep them entertained; slot machines, virtuality chair, piano, observatory, disco, exercise equipment, jacuzzi, sauna, zero-gravity playroom and combat arena! There is something to keep everyone happy. There are also plants to buy and place around the base and different types of seating which can be used to help people socialise. If however, someone does lose there mind or get space madness, there are specialised objects to buy: counselling robot, meditation room, relaxation pod and if they get in a fight, you can send them to the detention facility. The fights are quite funny actually, think a cartoon fight with colonists rolling around behind a cloud of dust and seeing stars. Make sure the base is kept clean as well, cleaning posts should be placed inside the dome and employ someone with cleaning expertise. There are objects available to teach colonists new skills: library and training pod. However, during the missions you only get so many chances to teach the skills, so pick wisely as to who you teach a new skill too.
The campaign missions have three different sections, starting with the general missions. The general missions are where you start out which contains the tutorial as well. These missions are simple and do get harder as you go on. Once the general missions are done, then the two separate paths open up: civilian and military. The civilian missions involve goals on various different things but also open you up to the tourist section of the game. The tourist section opens up new items and units to buy, including hotels, a tourist port, art galleries with statues, an alien zoo and creating your very own golf course in space, with the help of your GM grass you can produce. It seriously is great watching them play golf in space suits.
The military path is basically that, you see the more direct side of Blackwater Industries in there pursuit of profit. With laser guns, forcefields, cluster bombs, commando robots, dogbots, manual lasers, military radar, missile silos and space defence shields, it's time to have some fun with some aliens! There are different species of aliens, with some that are harmless and some that have there own guns! The military missions I do find harder to complete but they do add a different layer to the game.
When you click on Galaxy mode, a screen with a map of three new star systems appear. Each system has a different theme: Mgeni is economic goals, Ussvald military and Eadfrid managing your colonists. There are differing levels of difficulty available to play within these 24 missions.
Sandbox mode is effectively you pick a planet out of the eight available and it will start you with colonists, tell you the resources on the planet and give you notes on the planets conditions (are there aliens, is there volcanic activity etc). It's up to you what you do on the planets, there are no goals, just a chance to build what you want to do.
Graphics and audio: The graphics are really cool in a nice clear and detailed way. There is some realistic detail in the people and equipment in game. The industrial units do look really good and you can tell, the designers really took there time and effort when creating this game. The audio can be a little repetitive but the main theme is a neat techno tune which does go well with the games theme. The special effect sounds on each objects do sound great as well. When you click on colonists, they do say stuff which is fun but again, it does get boring hearing the same sentences over and over again.
Conclusion: I bought this game back in 2004 in a GAME shop. I had no intentions of buying it and was just going to browse around the store when I saw the box art of this game. This was a special edition one which had one of those shimmy affect cards instead, you know where you pick it up and move it and it gives you a 3D effect. I had never heard of the game before and after noticing it was on sale and with only costing £10 I thought why not. I'm glad I did as this game seriously is a great play and will keep you occupied for many days and weeks. From the missions to the graphics and sounds, this game just oozes with sheer fun that any age can enjoy. Yes there are lasers and military missions but it's all done light-heartedly and with a sense of humour. This isn't 'the Sims' in space, this is game in its own right which deserves to be played and given more recognition. For a tenner, this game is by far the most value for money I have ever got from a video game. Now you can own it for as little as a few pounds from eBay.
Space colony is a great game and I am suprised that it has not become more popular, there are several ways to play the game, firstly you can try to complete missions, or you can play sandbox mode, where you create your own colony and just live in it, alternativly you could add a few predators in your sandboxed world to spice things up a bit. I see Space colony as a cross between Sim city and Sims - in space, you are involved in controlling characters but you are also looking at the big picture, plus there are no toilets in space colony - which is a welcomed bonus - this need has been replaced by a rather cynical but true to life need; money.
The graphics in this game are great but not outstanding, sound quality is good but very repetitive, and the game is engaging, but some of the missions are very hard to complete.
Space Colony is a bizarre but catchy game that you will not regret playing , it is well worth the money and is in a way the boys alternative to Sims, I would recommend this game to teenagers and adults, it has a 12+ certificate on it which I am guessing is there because of the complicated game play, and violence.
Give it a go. You know you want to.
Often hailed as Sims in Space, this is a curious little game that goes beyond what that description paints upon the mind. It's an engaging little strategy sim that takes you through various missions for the rather corrupt conglomerate Black Water Industries. It IS somewhat similar to the Sims in that you have simulated persons that you order about with certain tasks, assigning them jobs, building their friendships, and so on, as well as some building design. Unlike the Sims, however, you do not create these people. now, this may sound like a failing, but oh what a crew they give you. The staff are selected by Black Water Industries according to the individual's contract, so upon starting a mission, certain personnel are assigned. Sometimes you get only a few of them,and at other times you get the whole complement, which actually makes things rather interesting as they are a rather eclectic mix. The cast of characters include a Norwegian biker, a rather cyber punk Japanese national and her best friend, a hayseed who just LURVES space chicken farmin' , a recluse who just wants to "talk to the stars", a stranded socialite, a Legally Blonde Reese Witherspoon type blonde bimbo, a rather combative Irishman, an easy going motherly Indian woman, a clingy alcoholic Texan, and more. Pretty well much, these are all misfits, or people who need the cash in order to get their lives set up back home.
You can play the missions, which have two paths, Civilian and Military. The Military path, as it suggests, deals more with Black Water Industries more aggressive expansions, while the Civilian Path leans more towards peaceful expansion and building up space tourism. This does not mean you won't run into trouble where you need weapons however, as such places might be seen as easy pickings by rival companies, or worse, Black Water may have unwittingly built near some VERY occupied ruins....There is also galaxy mode, where you can select the planet you wish to play by terrain type and so on and go along on a Black Water mission, as well as sand box mode, where there are no scenarios, just various planets and their different challenge level environs. On the net there are also more scenarios to download, one of which is official, and others that use the editor features Firefly put in.
The editor features allows you to edit not only the map, but to create your own simple or complex scenarios. It can be a bit daunting at first, but luckily there is a simple guide to it on the net that will hold your hand and guide you step by step. this same site also links to various free to download scenarios made by others, so is well worth the visit. You can find this at http://www.spacecolonyfans.net/sc_campaigned.html
Game play is relatively straight forward, and rather a lot of fun. I particularly liked the little intros to the scenarios where we get a little film of a screen where the computer puts through our message from the Black Water Industries CEO, followed by video comms between listening characters. The computer then reiterates the assigned mission, and we can begin. The computer's voice keeps us abreast in changes around the base, and from time to time, the staff get video feedback from that very cranky and greedy CEO. The little asides and occasionally outrageous behaviours the characters make as their particular personality traits react to the stresses of the environment and the mission is quite humorous yet realistic. The missions start off rather simple, though as game play progresses, what the game considers easy and you consider easy may be two different things, but one thing is for sure, its engaging and even if you fail a mission the 1st, 2nd, or even third time, you just keep coming back. I have to tell you here that I have actually completed every single scenario on the disc, plus the official bonus one from firefly, and yet, here I am 18 months later, having another go round and just as challenged and amused.
The graphics on this game are gorgeous. The rendering is smooth and the buildings and people on Sim City and the original Sims look rather old school by comparison. This is particularly impressive when you realise that not only did they do all this work on 20 individual colonists, but over 100 different buildings, all rendered meticulously, and smoothly integrated.The AI is pretty flawless too, responding with a much appreciated immediacy. The result is smooth game play that is nearly flawless, and that is really enjoyable to look at. You can almost feel yourself there, its so good.
While I am reviewing the PC platform, this title is available also for MAC,with exactly the same features. The PC version will run on 98, ME, 2000, and XP as stated on the box, as well as Vista as we found when hubby tried it on his shiny new laptop. It runs best with 128 MB Ram free or you will get the odd game freeze and 850 MB free hard drive space, which is not that large by gaming standards. Having been released in 2003, it is not as greedy as many games, so it performs very well on older PCs that may not have the latest golly gee whiz gaming capabilities .Because it has some violence and the occasional mature theme (romance, alcoholic issues, mental illness outbreaks, death from battle), it is marketed at the 12 and up age group, while I feel it is really more suitable for ages 16 and up. The only downside is Firefly never revisited this gem and to create expansion packs or sequels. It's definitely one worth adding to your strategy Sim collection though, and the price is great too, as it is an older title. You can find it from 99p on eBay and Amazon marketplace, and Play.com amongst others, and at that price, its worth it even if you only play through once. At that price, after hubby borrowed mine for his laptop, I got him his own copy. Its mine I tell ya..all mine!
From Firefly Studios, creators of the Stronghold series, Space Colony promises a gaming experience that's literally out of this world. Through a series of unique and pioneering missions players will be given the opportunity to combine all the intricacies of running a Space Colony with the most dysfunctional crew ever assembled, while fighting off aliens and attempting to make a profit.