DarkStar One: Broken Alliance is basically a rehashed concept taken from the Xbox series. It is a game where the main character has free roam over a huge galaxy and can trade, rob, and kill to earn credits. This is the general concept and although there is a storyline you are not required to follow it at all times. Unfortunately, there isn’t a lot more to this game leaving it very shallow.
When you first start up DarkStar One: Broken Alliance the first thing you will undoubtedly notice is the pixelated original Xbox graphics. The second thing you will notice is there aren’t many options on the menu, basically start game. Finally, the game will start and so will your cringing at the absolutely ugly animations and graphics in this game. I love how they push on the box all the technical details about the graphics and sound saying “Full 1080P High Definition!”, and “Enjoy more than 35 hours of true 1080P High Definition Gameplay!”. This just proves that it is possible to make HD quality images that look like they were made in the 1980’s.
The controls in DarkStar One are absolutely horrendous making the game a pain to play. Whenever you are in a space station you get a menu asking you what you want to do, generally this is perfectly fine, the annoying part is when you select something and then exit that item it defaults back to the button labeled “take off”. Unfortunately, I have taken off several times on accident only to have to turn my ship around and land. Next, each time you want to land you need to hit left bumper, go to target list, look through a huge list of targets, click on trade station, press down on d-pad, press Y, and then finally steer your craft into the hangar. Also, everything in DarkStar One requires your ship to be super close to the target to interact with it, which is so annoying because you end up having to slowly approach it so you don’t accidentally run into it.
A lot of times when you are facing an enemy in DarkStar One: Broken Alliance you will find that the enemy ship is perfectly visible to you well before you can start shooting because the range is way too short. During combat if you need to escort or protect something you will find that the target you are escorting dies extremely fast! Once, I was flying through a system and a guy messaged me saying he was being chased by pirates and that if I helped him we could defeat the pirates together. Within 5 seconds of getting this message his ship was destroyed by the pirates and I left the system like nothing ever happened. My final complaint about DarkStar One is the sound is repetitive and boring and adds nothing interesting to the game.
Now then, there are some good things in DarkStar One as well that may make some people happy. First off, the ship you have is special in a way that it can be upgraded by using artifacts found throughout the galaxy. These artifacts acted as experience points, as you got to higher ship levels you required more artifacts to raise another level, and unlocked a number of upgrades each level. The upgrades you gain every level include, an upgrade to your plasma cannon which is really strange but more on that later, and a point that can either increase your hull, wings, or engines. Using the point in your hull increases your hit points, and unlocks automated turret slots on your ship. Using points in wings gives you more space to attach weapons on your wings, and increases your ship’s agility. Finally, using points in engines increases your energy production rate (which is used for weapons, shields and afterburners). The plasma cannon is strange because it isn’t actually a weapon per say, it instead acts as a talent tree of some sort with only roughly 7 items to put points into, which you once again earn one per level up. All the abilities in this tree are activate only and some deal with simple buffs for your ship, to direct damage weapons, or to shield boosting abilities.
The downside to this system is that you are very fixed in how and when and where you can level up and this reduces the feel that this is indeed an RPG title, instead making you feel like the RPG elements were thrown in as sort of an additional sale point. The feel of the combat in DarkStar One: Broken Alliance is repetitive and, once you get a strategy down, repeating it over and over is all it takes to defeat your enemies. The nice thing is that you get random events as you travel around and the campaign runs roughly 25 hours straight through. There are 300 star systems to explore but they all look almost identical and there is never any reason to even visit 50% of these throughout the course of the game as artifact locations are marked on the map along with where to go for the main quest line.
Overall, DarkStar One: Broken Alliance feels rushed out the door and lacks polish as well as any multiplayer modes to help redeem its boring and repetitive campaign. This title is a horrible example of a space simulator… I wish they could have taken a note from Wing Commander.
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