|Starsiege is like many other games of the giant robot shooter genre. It has
big robots with big guns, battling for big stakes. But Starsiege, unlike many games in its
genre, also has a decent narrative.
Starsiege weaves a sci-fi story detailing the struggle of the human race against the Cybrids, evil invaders spawned from mans first attempt at artificial computer-based life. Prometheus, the first artificial life form and leader of the Cybrids, begins the game assembling his Cybrid forces on Pluto and Neptune--just waiting for an opportunity to invade Earth and destroy all of humanity. The opportunity presents itself when oppressed human workers on Mars rebel against strict Imperial law. The stage is set for war.
In the Starsiege campaign game the player has the choice of playing as either the human rebels on Mars, or (in the advanced campaign) as the Cybrids. The game either details the defeat of Prometheus and the Cybrids in the human campaign or the Cybrid conquest of Earth in the Cybrid campaign. The campaigns are played out through a number of game missions whose objectives include escorting friendly vehicles, protecting a base, or the old favorite, the "go blow something up" mission. The campaign game is the real heart of the game, and the missions kept me wanting more; they were just difficult to be challenging and easy enough to be beaten.
You can also outfit your Herc with your own choice of weapons, armor, shields, engine, as well as other equipment. This allows you to tailor your Herc to your mission objectives. There is a wide variety of equipment with which to outfit your Herc, as you can include any of nearly 40 different weapons in your design. In fact, one of the best aspects of the Starsiege game is the completeness and complexity of Herc designs. Mounted weapons swivel as the player looks around the screen, and each weapon location also has a fixed arc through which it can fire--weapons on arm type locations can fire far to the right or the left, but those mounted towards the center of a Herc can only fire at targets straight ahead. Each weapon also has its own unique graphics. For example, when an autocannon is mounted on a Herc, the old weapon on the appropriate location is replaced with a large eight-barreled gatling gun. Each Herc can also be repainted with one of a number of preset or user created bitmaps. All of this gives a very personal feel to Starsiege.Starsiege is also a very finished, even slick, game. The two--yes, two--180+ page manuals provide game background information and data on Hercs, as well as information on how to play the game. The game is a snap to learn as the manual is very comprehensive, and the tutorial and training missions easy to understand. And those who like a little background and plot in their game should appreciate the second manual, which details the history of the Starsiege universe in text and full-color illustrations.
The game's graphics add to the polished feel, as they are for the most part relatively simple, but well made. Laser blasts shine, buildings explode, and robots tromp across the landscape all in beautiful 3D. And while at times the game's graphics can look a bit blocky, in general they are quite good. The sound is also a high point for the game as it has fully 3D enabled sound, as well as music tracks that complement the action almost as well as those way back from MechWarrior2.
The multiplayer options are also well fleshed-out, and feature easy internet play, the option for a spawned copy, and support for deathmatch, capture the flag, and other multiplayer missionsMy main problem with Starsiege is the how the Hercs handle. These huge machines seem far too nimble. They handle almost more like a character in a first person shooter than a huge robotic weapons platform--they're just too agile to feel like 50-ton monster robots. I was really reminded of the game Cyberstrike2, in which the player pilots a man-sized robot. Both these games felt very similar, and while in Cyberstrike2 the feel of a small quick and agile robot added to the game, in Starsiege it detracts.
The only other major problem I have with Starsiege is the motion of the Hercs. A running Herc has none of the finesse witnessed in other robot games. A robot from a distance appears as a mass of blocky legs with a cockpit attached, stumbling along the ground. Usually the movement is tolerable, but at times I even noticed that Herc legs were not quite making contact with the ground on slight inclines and steeper hills. This was a small thing, but still noticeable nonetheless.Overall, Starsiege is a good game. It provides players with a well-developed storyline, an interesting universe, and a full plot--all things the genre of robot combat has been lacking. In this age of half finished games, Starsiege is also a polished product with all the little things taken care of. Its not without its problems, however, and even these minor problems will cause some to shy away from the game. With titles like Heavy Gear2 and MechWarrior3 coming in the near future, the more traditional "giant robot" gamers may want to consider saving for these big action games. On the other hand, those who enjoy robot-oriented action, but have always yearned for something with a plot should be very thrilled with Starsiege.