is a space-based real time strategy game. As such, it has to compete against such classics as Homeworld
. And, unfortunately, when you add it all up the game just doesn't stack up. There are a lot of neat ideas in the game, but the control scheme gets in the way so much that you'll be fighting to enjoy the good bits. Which is a damn shame, because there's a lot of fun to be had if you can get over the shoddy controls.
The storyline starts off intriguing--Earth has found a planet viable for colonization, and so a group of colonists is sent out to start a new base for humanity there. Of course, things go Horribly Wrong from the start, and soon enough the experience turns into something rather different than any one of the colonists could have expected. The plot is quite detailed, and it's actually one of the main driving forces of the game; you'll want to see just what happens next to your crew.
The basic mechanics of the game are fairly similar to most RTS games. You have a base from which you expand, building (or growing) new structures off of the central structure. If you build a hangar, you can then create new Terran units, and so on. The Terran base's spokes can also mount cannon and the like, so you really get to customize your base, but without the 'sprawl' of most real-time strategy games. Resources are collected from asteroids, and the whole thing is completely automated, so you don't have to worry about micromanaging your resource collection.
Moving your actual units is another thing. Your ships are all grouped into squads, and you can give orders to separate ships or (more often) entire squadrons. You move them around on the map by left-clicking, and you can change their height by holding down the left mouse button when you click and dragging it up and down. The right mouse button always does camerawork, whether it's zooming in, zooming out, or centering the camera. Unfortunately, having left-click both as unit selection and unit movement can cause some problems when you're trying to move your squadron next to a location or other ship.
Indeed, the main flaws of the game come from the wacky interface. You'll spend more time fiddling with your camera than anything else, and it's hard to get a real good overview of the action in a system. There's just no happy medium when it comes to a view angle; either you see too much or you don't see enough at all. Add to that the heavily scripted nature of the missions, which often spring dirty surprises on you, and you'll find yourself being a wee bit frustrated when you play the single-player missions. Add to this the epic scale of the game and you'll have large sections that you have to replay because you forgot to save the game. Meep.
To its benefit, the game offers multiplayer capabilities through GameSpy. I never saw anyone online playing it when I was around, though, which sort of worried me.