By Will Whitehurst / September 22nd, 2012
The most important part of Infinite Space, is its richly complex gameplay. Let me reiterate: if you’re not a fan of customization and taking advantage of everything a game has to offer, this game will not appeal to you. The predominantly touchscreen-based interface is as intuitive as they come, and considering how in-depth this game goes with menus, that’s just fine. Infinite Space‘s gameplay is divided into three major parts: voyaging through space, fighting enemies and upgrading your ship.
The first concept is where Infinite Space starts to falter a bit. There are quite a few galaxies to encounter in the game, but the “Void Gates,” which take you to different galaxies, are closed off at different points in the storyline, leaving you stuck in one sector until the chapter’s end. Also, you can’t return to a previous sector of the galaxy when the chapter is over, and while this could lead some to explore the area to its fullest, it’s still Infinite Space‘s most glaring flaw, though it doesn’t detract from the overall enjoyment of venturing through space.
Along the way, you sometimes run into ships, and that’s where Infinite Space‘s innovative battle system comes in. It’s a real-time system that uses concepts from turn-based games, real-time strategy RPGs and even a bit of rock-paper-scissors.There are three standard command types. With a barrage, all of your ships attack three times. With a normal attack, all of your ships attack once. With a dodge, all barrages are usually missed, but normal attacks are significantly more devastating.
Adding on to this deceptively simple system are melee attacks and special attack types. Melee attacks allow you to board a ship and take it down immediately using a rock-paper-scissors based system, while three different types of special attack, including ones that can change depending on your captain’s First Mate and ship type, can help you in a bind.
Speaking of ship types, Infinite Space has a wealth of customization options for budding ship builders. You make the basic ship from a blueprint, and obtaining them, either from defeating enemies or using money dropped by enemies, is the hard part. When you obtain enough, there are four basic types of ship, with fourteen different factors to consider in terms of performance. There are also weapons, mainly used for special attacks, and over 30 different modules to add to your ship to increase livability, offenses and defenses. In addition, through your travels, you can hire many different crew members and assign them to many different positions depending on their status (attribute). While new players might find this aspect of the game daunting as well, people willing to put their time into this game will be richly rewarded.
Infinite Space also has a multiplayer mode, where two players battle it out with their customized ships over local Wi-Fi. The multiplayer is a fun extension to the battle system, but since not too many people own Infinite Space to begin with, it’s not exactly easy to get in on the action. In the end, the multiplayer seems rather tacked on and unnecessary at times, but it’s perfect for seasoned players who want to show off their ships to someone else who loves this game.
Aside from the clumsily integrated “Void Gate” and lackluster multiplayer, Infinite Space has a few other minor faults. Grinding is absolutely necessary at times, as there are several intense bosses and melee encounters throughout that make it imperative that you get ahead. Also, there isn’t a decent tutorial to be found, a problem remedied by reading the owner’s manual and/or the “Zero-G Commander’s Guide” (link provided below).
Regardless of its minor flaws, this is one of the most underrated gems in the DS’ galaxy of a catalog. Platinum Games’ Infinite Space is a rewarding coming-of-age story wrapped in a wonderful RPG experience set in the realms of the unknown. If you’re not scared off by the intense customization or high price (currently $50 – and that’s for the cartridge only), this is a game not to be missed. Those who like to keep their games simple need not apply, though.
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