DarkStar One: Broken Alliance is a port of a PC game from four years ago, one that was referred to as the next “Privateer” or “Freespace” game upon its initial release. The basic premise of DarkStar One, Privateer, Freespace or any similar space simulation game is about you building up a ship, collecting money from completing different jobs, traveling to several new galaxies, and pretty much having free reign over their characters in a massive space setting. DarkStar One is definitely similar in that regard, although its execution is lackluster, to say the least.
What sets DarkStar One apart from the Privateer (or Freespace) series is its lack of a truly compelling story, narrative, or even setting. The game stars Kayron Jarvis, a rookie space pilot who, upon learning of his father’s death, inherits the legendary DarkStar One spaceship. Soon enough, he seeks to find out the truth behind the events leading up to the demise of his father.
The story seems intriguing at first, but you find nothing that is really worth exploring in this very massive universe. Nothing about the characters, the different planets, galaxies, or races are compelling. The story meanders off for a while near the middle part of the game, and you find no reasons to relate to anything that is going on. The terrible voice acting and the lack of any clear direction in the narrative is what really drags this game down.
There is plenty of information to learn about each different system and galaxy, but that information almost never seems important during the majority of your travels unless it is dealing with the main story. You’ll find out about the different governments of each system, but it never means anything to any aspect of the game. The developers just flooded the screen with a ton of information, but most of it seems rather pointless. You are never immersed enough into this setting to find any of what you learn about each system necessary, and the game never tries to tell you why it might be.
You would think that a game as open as this would have lots to do, right? Well, there certainly are a lot of places to explore, plenty of missions to do, and a wide array of ways to customize the DarkStar. But with all of that being said, the places you can explore all seem the same. When it comes down to it, you never find yourself going on any of these nice planets you see, and it doesn’t take long for you to realize that space looks about the same no matter which galaxy you are exploring. Oh sure, there are plenty of ships flying around, but they pretty much ignore you unless you are engaged in combat with them.
The customization is definitely above and beyond what I expected from a game like this, and it really does show that the developers put plenty of thought behind just how many ways to customize your ship. You will also find different artifacts scattered around the many galaxies, and they are used to increase your ship’s power and essentially level up your vessel.
There are also a lot of missions to take on, and each one relates to a specific “class” your character could belong to. You could lean more towards being a mercenary, a pirate, or just find yourself fighting for the law of that galaxy. None of it ever seems to have a bearing on anything except how certain, minor characters react to you. It’s just another missed opportunity, on that could have been explored a lot further.
My biggest complaint with DarkStar One is just how sluggish everything feels. The space combat is never exciting, as enemies just fly around you in circles attempting to hit you with no real sense of tension or thrilling moments. The more you upgrade your ship seems to do next to nothing as you find yourself just flying in circles the majority of battles after the brain-dead enemies. The simulation aspects of DarkStar are cool, but the combat never feels like it improves beyond what seems to be a slow and tedious game of tag.
I hate to say it, but nothing about DarkStar One: Broken Alliance is all that captivating. Whenever I found something about the game I enjoyed, there were five other things that proceeded to drag down the experience. This is not the next Freespace or Privateer game, and not once did I find myself at all excited or enthralled by anything happening on screen.
Pros: Plenty of customization options; lots of mission variety; many places to explore
Cons: Terrible voice acting; lackluster story with a very poor narrative; uninteresting characters and world; sluggish gameplay