Maroon and Gamer: Gemini Wars Review

Forgive me gamers for I have sinned… again.

When it comes to the strategy genre — just like Japanese Role-Playing games — I would rather play something else. The only familiarity and enjoyment I get is when the strategy game takes place in a universe that I know about. Halo Wars and Star Wars: Empire at War are some of my favorites. That being said, I enjoyed my time with Gemini Wars but there are some things that kept it from joining the ranks of the strategy games that I can label fondly. Gemini Wars is strictly a space strategy game with warships and laser guns firing upon one another to control resources and points on the map.

Disclaimer: I tried to give multiplayer a go but no one was playing it. Take that as you will.

 

The Good

Gemini Wars has a lot of good things going for it. It is exciting to amass a fleet and just swarm the enemy with your own ships.  During the amassing process, you can see – by scrolling forward or back – your galactic exploits on a micro or macro level. The ships all look convincing and the audio for the laser gunfire ricocheting off the shields is something to write home about.

During the campaign, there are news reports in between missions that convey a persistent world and universe even though I prefer non-text reports. Not to feel like I am jumping around topics or anything but the skirmish mode is fairly robust allowing you to set the number of planets that have to be conquered or the amount of money you can spend from the get-go. It really catered to how much I wanted to challenge or –in my case with strategy games – annihilate those who oppose me. And I think that’s why I had fun with Gemini Wars at the end of the day, it reminded me of Star Wars: Empire at War.

 

The Bad

And that was also part of the problem. It reminded me of a game that had come out six years ago. Gemini Wars’ campaign was typical sci-fi schlock that was typical down to a light-speeding tee. The intro was nice but the fact that they only used text in the brief intro and then would give characters voices in-game perplexed me. The characters also had questionable dialogue and were just floating heads in screens, which I thought we had gotten past. For example, one of the characters spoke so clearly despite having a cigar in his mouth like Apone from Aliens. I appreciated the reference but it mystified me after the fact.

The music score for this game is as generic as they come. Epic voices and sweeping scores repeated ad nauseam. There is a nice battle camera, a la Star Wars: Empire at War, which gives the strategic gameplay a cinematic lens.

But where the two differ is that the ships in Empire at War were in the thousands and constantly moving. Gemini Wars decides to just have the ships just sit there and shoot at each other. Fun. Another thing that is “fun” is how slow your ships move across the battlefield. If you have a mobile game or magazine on hand to entertain you, then you should be fine. Let’s remove our hats for those that didn’t or won’t. I won’t attribute this to Gemini Wars itself because it might just be a hardware/spec issue but the loading times are abysmal. The game’s A.I. seldom does questionable actions. I tried to separate my ships to target a military station (the one that shoots) instead of the mining station (the one that doesn’t shoot) and they couldn’t do it. They disobeyed my commands and kept shooting at the mining station resulting in their death.

 

The Verdict

A lot of the problems I had with Gemini Wars created obstacles but I was able to at least have some fun with it. Is it worth $20, $30 or $40 (depending on where you buy it from; I recommend Steam because that was the cheapest offering I found)? Well that is the question isn’t it? If you love space strategy games then I can recommend Gemini Wars. When it first released it only had the singleplayer content but at the time of this review, it has the skirmish and multiplayer mode so you get value for the price point. For those who would rather slaughter the enemy with their bare hands, this isn’t the game you’re looking for.

 

Follow me on Twitter @MaroonandGamer or send me an email to shfawcet@asu.edu