Space Station 13 seems, at first glance, to be a game offering countless hours of enjoyment.
How many games are there where you're on a space station and must survive a menacing trouble? Let's se-oh wait! Space Tug! Anyone remember the game where a Critter was roaming the corridors, preying upon the lives of a crew? Hopefully this game can measure up to its bloody counterpart.
Unfortunately, it's shortcomings are glaringly visible upon entering the game.
You enter the game with a blank character, in a waiting room, before rounds begin. You are allowed to edit your character's template with a variety of different choices. However, editing most of them is trivial as they have no impact on your gameplay whatsoever. It seems as if the useless attributes were added to enhance the player's roleplaying experience but nobody actually edits their traits and in the end they're just there for show.
One of the few oddities that does have some impact on your experience is the ability to edit your illnesses in the character creation screen. It seems as if disabilities were added to help the role-play factor but they end up being far greater nuisances than a helpful addition. It's doubtful anyone wants to gain epilepsy so that they may go unconscious every few minutes for a round that may take hours to end. Good attempt; bad execution.
The interface also affects the game by a large degree. Changing your shirt ends up being rocket science and finding where certain pieces of clothing go ends up in frustration. The game has a really steep learning curve when it comes to knowing how to properly use the HUD which is most likely why most new players end up causing mayhem.
They can only decipher how to pick up, oh let's say, an oxygen tank. They then find out how to attack so they do what they do best. Attack with an oxygen tank. The game does provide some mediocre documentation on how to equip things but fails to note that there are more slots available upon clicking the nearly invisible 'OTHER' tab. You have to spend hours trying to place a helmet in the mask section only to find out it has to go in the head section. I have a head section? Where? Let me spend another five hours trying to find the damn thing.
There's too many unneeded slots. Left hand? Check. Right hand? Check. Torso? Check. What else do I need? Apparently a feet slot (What was the point of this? Does my character really need to change shoes that often? Will I catch some sort of feet stink plague?) and an ears slot (Do I need to use cotton swabs to avoid ear infections?) were necessary additions to keep the game balanced and healthy. Yes, these are real slots. There are several useless slots and they just add to the junk the HUD doesn't need.
Space Station 13's saving grace, however, is it's entertaining modes. It sports five different scenarios for you to role-play in, including traitor, sandbox, blob, nuclear, and monkey mode.
Traitor mode requires no in-depth explanation. There's a traitor onboard the station and you've got to get him before he steals vital documents or weaponry and escapes. This provides one of the best role-playing experiences than the rest of the modes.
Monkey mode has around three players go ape (literally) and wreak havoc upon the station and you've got to contain them before they get you and escape, unleashing their virus upon Earth.
Nuclear mode is a close-relative of traitor mode. A few operatives are sent to the station to retrieve a research disk, destroy the station and escape.
Meteor mode is the useless of all modes as recent patches fortified the station, basically nullifying their destructive power.
The worst mode of all, however, is blob mode.
Blob mode releases a growing organism onto the station that causes horrendous lag that leaves you crying, "Why has God forsaken me!?"
Each mode provides a good base so that role-playing may start up, but it usually ends up in some idiot running amuck killing everyone.
Oh, how the griefers grief.
Roleplaying fails to take place for various reasons but one big, big reason is that the game is way too fast-paced for any role-playing to occur naturally. It's usually very forced and provides little to no enjoyment. Why force yourself to talk when you could just shoot the guy and bash his head in. Come on... the toxin laboratory is just a few feet away. He doesn't need his skin... When role-playing does take place, it is extremely entertaining. It just doesn't happen often enough.
Personally, I've managed to role-play a few times but it's either interrupted by some idiot with a taser gun or the game just gets too fast paced as the meteors tear apart the station. If you can find a good group of people to play with then the replay value skyrockets to the top. You can have a role-play, a doctor can actually take test subjects by force without being banned for griefing, or you can have a grief-fest. You won't find that group anytime soon, however. Most of the public servers are filled to the brim with idiots running amuck, causing frustration to all who enter to the station with an oxygen tank. Space Station 13 is the type of game where you look at it and realize, "Hey, this game has potential. Too bad this and this is wrong with it."
Sunday, March 23, 2008
Following reports about the lag being on my end, I changed a few things on my computer and went back on a random server. No more lag! The game has earned 1 point in gameplay and the overall score has changed to 5.5.