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Infinite Space

Infinite Space is a different from the usual hack and slash fare from Platinum games. It was made in collaboration with Nude Maker and was the third game of a four-part publishing deal between Sega and Platinum Games. Infinite Space mixes in real time strategy with JRPG elements and space simulation. It has very detailed story telling and combat systems and the game world design is superb.

With over 200 ship modules, more than 100 planets to explore,150 spaceships and 150 possible teammates to recruit, Infinite Space has a large amount of content. Each recruit has their own set of requirements and depending on your actions, they can either turn against you or join up with you. The game is set thousands of years into the far future where humanity has been exploring and colonizing all over the galaxy. The complex story is told in two parts, the first half takes place 10 years prior and the second half takes place 10 years later. The story was inspired by Arthur Clarke’s book “Childhoods End” and borrows themes from it as well as from science fiction 1980’s science fiction Anime.

You play as Yuri, a 16 year old spacefarer whose main goal is to discover the mystery of the universe altering epitaphs, and to become a “Zero-G Dog” a term in game referred to aspiring space travelers. In the game you explore two different galaxies, the small Magenellic Cloud and the Large Magnellic cloud. Each galaxy offers endless possibilities for exploration and adventure. Yuri and his crew find themselves in various dangerous situations and encounter numerous characters.

As the story progresses, you can see how Yuri changes from an inexperienced space traveler to a much more assured leader. He learns from people of various backgrounds and soon earns the respect of others despite his young age. He learns from each adventure and each new encounter as he bonds with his crew and becomes a legend. He understands the unique skills of each crew member as he assigns them their various tasks and he also learns how they can complement and enhance his skills.

Crew management is an important aspect of the game as well. Crew members become fatigue and sick and become unavailable for action so Yuri always has to be vigilant and rotate his staff in order to operate as optimum levels. At some points during the journey, Yuri has to make certain moral choices that affect the story greatly. Some choices require bribery, violence or diplomacy each with its own set of consequences. The story alters greatly as well so each choice Yuri makes affects the relationship with his crew and has some reactions in the galaxy as well.

Dialogue wise the game has a lot of good lines in it that makes it feel more authentic. The atmosphere of the story and world is dark and war torn. I really liked the deep and complex storyline of the game. It starts out simply but develops in scale and complexity as the game progresses. The unique character and space ship designs for both the first half and the second half of the story is really well done. I also like the dark colored background and anime art designs done by Studio Nue as well. Most of the cutscenes are static but there is some fully animated cutscenes in the game and they look good even on a DS. The game is controlled by the touch screen of the console. Instead of just controlling the character or your ship, it takes a more point and click styled approach.

To change location, you merely just have to touch which planet, cluster or asteroid you want to visit through the travel route lanes on the map. The design of the map is easy to use and you can zoom in or out more closely with the dialogue stick or thumb stick for the 3DS so you won’t have to stop at every other planet. To unlock new areas to explore, you have to go through void gates as you progress through the story and then resolve a set of missions before you could move on through.

Unlike many of the hack and slash games platinum has made, fights are more strategic and turn based but mainly straightforward. Each fight you are in is set in challenging big scale battles with other ships. It uses a mixture of 2D backgrounds and 3D special effects during battle. To attack during space fights, you have to fill up your gauge meter for the ship the closer you are to enemy the more damage and accurate your attacks will be. Green is to dodge, red is to barrage a series of powerful attacks and yellow is normal attacks depending on your ship. In combat,

you can move your ship in a left to right direction to either avoid enemy fire, go closer to attack and to escape in most situations. You can board enemy ships once you have a full gauge and are at a close enough level to perform melee combat.

Melee combat in this game its nothing at all like anything Platinum has made.

It’s your crewmates vs the enemy crewmates and you have 4 different choices leader, slash, shoot, and commander similar to space combat. It requires quick thinking and good planning. As you do progress in the game you can have more ships to your deck which gives you a bigger advantage in battle with being able to hold up to 5 ships. Any encounter can be very deadly especially during boss fights so you are going to have to level up and plan ahead in order to take any advantage given. Some fights can be random while you are traveling and while most cases you could escape sometimes you may encounter a powerful ship which you have no choice but to fight. You can upgrade weaponry, speed and armour of you ships as you progress though the game.

There is a good amount of replay value to it as once you finished the game.

In new game plus you can select different choices that alter the story and other paths you could take. You can carry over the status you have in previous walkthroughs as well too and earn bonuses from your second playthrough too.

This also gives you the chance to find stuff that you may have missed in the game like new crew members or ship modules. Being able to customize your ship in many different ways is one of the big highlights of the game. There is a wide variety of ship classes to choose from big battleships to smaller and more agile destroyers each coming with its own advantages and disadvantages. You can select a variety of weapons to equip your ships. In addition, you are also able to remodel the interior design of the ship such as new engines, and crew quarters. Remodeling is similar to Tetris where you have to fit the blocks in the right space and each model you collect is shaped in different kinds of colored blocks red for example being for attack related modules. Having a bigger ship will allow you to equip more modules. Each spaceship has a limit to remodeling, so quite often you are going to be swapping and removing models you find throughout the game. There is also the ability to unlock new blue prints for ships, modules and weapons. The amounts of features allow you to experiment to see which customizing you have made suits you in battle.

You can visit asteroids and can collect resources that are worth credits and also raid other ships at certain routes to steal their resources. Other than that, you can do Jobs by going to bartenders and making deliveries as another way to earn money and fame. Bartenders are useful sources of information so talking to them is pretty useful for intelligence gathering.

The sound effects and audio design for the game were ok and the musical score fit in quite well with the grand scale epic story. It felt very dramatic during battle scenes. There is not much voice acting in the game other than some animated cutscenes and also voice bits during combat. There is a highly detailed retro styled graphics and the visuals for the time on the DS when it was released looks good.

I also found some shortcomings to this game as well that prevents it from being a full 5. The game has a steep learning curve initially. The difficulty of the game can fluctuate quite often from easy to hard so grinding is highly recommended in order to succeed as you could die quite early in battle if you are not careful.

If you are a newcomer to RTS games its best to go to the helpbot whenever you are docked at a spaceport on a nearby planet as the game has a lot of features that you need to know in order to progress through the game. You actually can use a tutorial early on in the game but much of the stuff you are going to have to figure out for yourself. The interface design of the game menus is sort of clunky and it takes a lot of time to get used to as the game has an overwhelming amount of detail to it especially if you are a newcomer to the JRPG genre.

It’s really important to pay close attention to the dialogue during certain points in mission as the game does not have a quest navigator or any form of a quest log to help you remember key points so you better remember it or else you will be spending a huge amount of time traveling all over the place just to figure out what you are supposed to be doing. This game was certainly a unique experience than what I normally play with games made by Platinum.

Its going to get about 4 stars.

If you enjoy games that require strategy along challenging JRPGS aimed for hardcore veterans, then this could be quite a lot of fun.

The game has been reprinted not too long ago so you should be able to get a copy without too much effort. There is even a two part promotional film for the game animated by production IG and Gonzo as well so check that out too if you are interested in learning more about the game.

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