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Star Wolves 3: Civil War - PC Review
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Never in my life did I ever dream of venturing into outer space and travelling to distant planets to explore the furthest reaches of the universe. To me space has always been dull and so have space-based games and for the same reason. That reason is really conveyed by the word itself… space. As in nothingness. Emptiness. I just cannot get excited about a vast empty space dotted with balls of burning gas that contains the occasional planet and lots of rocks even when it’s dramatised in works of fiction. I really cannot stand to gaze at the vast blackness that surrounds my little spaceship, planet or whatever I happen to be in charge of in the game at hand. Any length of time doing so makes me drowsy and bored. So obviously that makes me the ideal candidate to review Star Wolves 3: Civil War, an epic space-based role-playing game.

In space... no-one can hear you dream ZZZZZZ...

In fairness I have pretty much pigeon-holed myself as Wedotech’s resident epic RTS and RPG freak if only because no-one else can tolerate sitting through such games so I had to expect this sooner or later and to be honest I suspected that Star Wolves 3 would actually be a pretty good game for which I’d overlook my disinterest in the setting. Now I feel that before we get to the heart of the matter I should establish two things. Firstly, I’m a guy who can play the likes of Galactic Civilizations 2 and the Europa Universalis games for hours on end and describe the experience as “thrilling” without being sarcastic. So don’t go thinking that I just have a short attention span and am incapable of enjoying a game like Star Wolves 3. No, I have a positively Zen-like level of patience and willingness to persevere. Secondly, I have never heard of the Star Wolves series before in my life but you know what, that’s actually a good thing because it means I have no bias towards the game whatsoever. I always set out to ensure that I review any game for what it is, not in comparison to it’s prequels or other titles in its genre and since the last game that I played that was remotely similar to Star Wolves 3 was the original Homeworld, that latter temptation won’t be hard to resist.

Star Wolves 3: Civil War is released in three days time, Tuesday the 2nd of March, but I received my review copy a number of weeks ago and the game has been installed on my hard drive since then although neglected until yesterday. It has been on my mind constantly though, almost haunting me with dreams of how it might shatter my preconceptions and nightmares of how dull I might find the experience. But the first thing that struck me as odd about Star Wolves 3 is the fact that it is very clearly an intricate RPG that gives you the ability to name your character, select from a specialisation and spend points on specific skills all before the game has even begun and yet you can only be a male protagonist with a single set portrait. It seems bizarre to me that they don’t let the player change the portrait of their character, not even to another portrait that already exists in the game. It would have required next to no effort but I can guarantee you that such a detail would have pleased lots of people. I would be willing to bet money that when this game is released there will be threads on the games’ official forum complaining about this oversight (if there isn’t already) and I won’t be surprised to see the ability to change your characters appearance patched in at a later date.

Despite having a character portrait though, you are basically a spaceship. It’s spaceships you’ll explore with, fight with, upgrade, team-up with, repair and, in short, do everything with. Your character’s picture only comes into play alongside the dialogue when you are communicating with another vessel or space station which is fair enough considering the genre and setting but somehow I just can’t quite connect with personalities when they are represented for the most part by soulless machines. Whenever I gained companions or hired mercenaries to join my fleet, I felt nothing as I saw them explode in battle. I just watched my ship count drop by one like some evil overlord who sees his minions as statistics rather than sentient beings. The one time I felt any emotion towards someone in the game was when I was tricked and sent into an ambush but that’s probably because I’m generally a vengeful guy rather than having anything to do with good writing.

Portals... you'll be using these. A lot.

Star Wolves 3 is very much your traditional RPG. You visit locations, talk to characters, acquire missions, get paid, upgrade your equipment and repeat the process until you finish the game. There is nothing wrong with that at all and indeed Star Wolves 3 has at least the potential to be a good old-fashioned RPG experience in space, it just hasn’t been given enough attention to fulfil that potential as of yet. Now this game was developed by Elite Games Team and published by 1C Company and I really hope they don’t just let this game rot after its release. They need to guide their baby just a few steps further. In less pretentious terms, they need to patch the thing.

There are some technical issues with the game ranging from the expected and minor to the serious and worrying. I saw a drop-down menu option appear as a line of code, the translation of text is poor in places as is the spelling, certain mission triggers just don’t work the first time round and require that you quit and reload your save so that the game remembers what it was doing and lets you continue. At one point, I was asked to fly to several locations within one particular star system all of which were clearly marked on the map just like every objective in the game is. Having flown to three of these areas a message popped up declaring that my mission was complete and then… nothing. Nothing happened. A fourth target location had appeared on my map but travelling to it did nothing and nor did visiting any other location which meant that it was basically game over since I was playing out an integral part of the plot and reloading didn’t wake the game up this time.

The pirates in Star Wolves 3 cheat by paying the game to break when faced with defeat.

This review has been mostly negative up until now but there are lots of good points about the game as well. The interface is easy to master which is quite an achievement in a game of such undeniable depth, the graphics might not strain your graphics card but they are definitely pretty to look at, a lot of work has gone into the setting itself and you could spend hours reading the tomes of in-game information you are provided with. Despite being set in the bleakness of space that inevitably involves flying through blackness, Elite Games Team has thoughtfully provided the ability to fast forward the game up to eight times the normal speed and if something important happens it will either slow down automatically for you or just pause until you’re ready. Good catch guys. There is definitely a niche out there who will love this game and I’m not just talking about fans of its prequels (who might feel the exact opposite way if Star Wolves 3 has deviated far from its origins). I can imagine lots of people gleaning joy from anally studying each available component for their spacecraft and deciding which choice is the best for their intended plan of action. There is definitely fun to be had here but the game needs fixed badly because frankly it sometimes just doesn’t work.

It’s a real shame as well because I was really hoping that I’d turn Star Wolves 3: Civil War on and become utterly engrossed in the vast universe that has clearly been painstakingly thought through and lovingly created. Unfortunately this didn’t happen and I’m left frustrated at a game that given a little more time and polish, could have been great. If this kind of game interests you then my advice would be to keep an eye on the forums and see what the fan reaction is like on release and how 1C Company and Elite Games Team deal with the issues raised because guys… I want this game to be good and I hate having to give it the only score I really can given the current circumstances. Please 1C Company and Elite Games Team, don’t let this game go to waste, give it the repairs it needs and deserves.

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Star Wolves 3: Civil War - PC Review9.01010
1 Comment
  • kiffar
    March 1, 2024
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    Seems like another space game that just brings up the point, “Why play this? EVE Online does it best.”

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