Starshatter starts you out as a fighter pilot and as you progress through the missions you’re given additional responsibilities based on promotions you receive. Once you have obtained a high enough promotion, you begin commanding capital ships such as destroyers, dreadnaughts, and carriers. Missions are effected by your success or failure, in that the game can exploit weaknesses based on how you did in the previous mission, or effect events due to a successful outcome.
First missions have you handling the basics of flight, combat, and landing while some latter missions give you a taste of handling capital ships. My suggestion is to get a joystick. Keyboard flying just doesn’t make it in this game, and trying to remember what all the keys do can get confusing in the thick of battle. Flight is pretty simple and doesn’t really need to go into a full explanation. The only thing to remember is don’t bang into things as that has dire consequences.
Now landing is something different. Most flight games have you lining up for the hanger then, when close enough, automatically bring you in. Not so in this game. If you don’t hit the hanger just right and at the right speed, then things blow up! Also beware of a bug where you need to be close to the flight deck. If you aren’t, like in my case, you can end up at a complete stop, but at a few feet above the deck. Or you can go below the deck and have the same result, an incomplete mission. Bumping into the wall at a faster then safe speed has your ship blowing up, not to mention sticking the nose into the wall as well. Both of these seem to be major bugs, or at least I think they are and need to be fixed.
What is lacking is the tractor beam. The art of landing should be left up to the computer, not the player. This was a black mark in my case because if you blew up your ship, you could either redo the mission from a saved game or try it again but with a ship not designed for the mission success was made that much harder.
News reports that come up between missions give you a sense of what’s progressing with the war, but all they do is provide info on fleet movements and fleet battles. The lack of solid characters for the missions means that things are nebulous when engaging in combat. I prefer a story line that has some meat in it, character wise. The fact that you are able to continue in the campaign even after being destroyed seems to defeat the purpose of a progressive career.
Each campaign shows a map of the galaxy, its individual sectors and a number of missions you can undertake. These can be simple patrols and escort missions, ground targets on nearby planets, combat against enemy capital ships, or defending your fleet against attack. The campaigns tend to end up in the destruction of either your own or your enemy's carrier force. The problem is that the objective of the campaigns and individual missions aren't always clearly defined. There were times where I was scratching my head at what to do next.
Fighting against enemy fighters and capital ships is probably the most fun. Starting with the basic approach, you fire off with missiles before closing to cannon or laser range. A wide variety of missiles let you determine the mission set up for you. Torpedoes for capital ships, rockets for minefield clearing, and for dogfights various other ordinance. You’re also responsible for directing the activities of your wingmen. You have to encourage them to attack, though, as they seem to be a bit skittish when it comes to fighting.
The fleet battles are something else when it comes to managing them. Without clearly defined firing arcs, you may find yourself hoping to lock onto a target. While the carriers are the most fun to command, it's a real pain that you have to go to a spreadsheet to plan launching your fighter and bomber wings. The same applies to your capital ships in your fleet.
As stated before, small bugs made the enjoyment factor less then I like in a game of this type. For example I would get missions where I’d run out of petrol for my fighter before reaching the last waypoint. Talk about annoying. There were others that applied to flying as well. Take all of these with a grain of sand.
I did like the graphics which were solid in some areas and made you feel like you were in space. The planets are very well detailed, though missing were the extras you find in most games of this type. When you have ground attack missions, things were a bit bland and should have had more detail. All you get is cloud cover and a few buildings and not much else. Ships could also have been worked with more detail. The boxy nature was a bit disappointing.
All this brings is a relatively flat game that has good areas and some aspects which gives you a feel of combat and mission control, but on the whole is lacking in what it takes to make it outstanding as a space shooter.
My knowledge of the industry mostly evolves around beta testing games, such as Earth & Beyond from EA, Saga of Ryzom, and companies like MSN and Acolade. Self taught web design is another interest I have. Family life is entertaining at times. It also can get weird as well, after you have been married 31 years.