Starpoint Gemini 2 certainly doesn’t lack for scope or ambition. It sticks you in a spaceship, sends you out into a massive universe, and encourages you to go do whatever you want. You’re free to spend your time trading between stations, mining asteroids, protecting convoys, smuggling, blowing up your enemies, or whatever else takes your fancy. The problem is, none of it is any fun.
While there’s an impressive variety of things to do, the result is a game stretched too thin. No individual activity has any depth or challenge. In combat, you set your ship to auto-fire and wait patiently for your opponent to blow up; trading consists of just buying and selling anything marked green rather than red; even flying from place to place is a case of just setting a waypoint on the map and watching your ship go there on its own. The most engagement the game requires is in fighting through its clunky, awkward menus and reading through its endless tutorial pop-ups.
The problem is exacerbated by the game’s severe lack of personality and style. The universe is rendered beautifully, but it’s totally generic – just pretty versions of ships, space stations and planets that you’ve already seen a million times before. I hoped for a glimmer of something interesting in the story mode, which sees you playing a young captain attempting to unravel his deceased father’s past. Unfortunately, bland and forgettable writing delivered by bafflingly awful voice actors had me quickly longing for the blessed quiet of free roam.
To make matters worse, the game is riddled with technical problems and performance issues. I frequently found myself having to restart due to mission-breaking bugs and unexplained crashes, and even on my relatively hefty PC I experienced regular framerate drops and hitches.
Hardcore space sim fans may find some enjoyment in the size and freedom of Starpoint Gemini 2. If you’re part of that crowd, you probably already know if this game is for you or not. For anyone else, it’s likely to be a huge disappointment.