(http://www.sega.com/games/?g=375) Rated T for Teen by ESRB. While space travels had always been a dream for mankind, Infinite Space by Sega provides you with the opportunity to do just that. Infinite Space is a science-fiction role-playing game about space and dreams. Unlike the usual shooting-dodging schemes found in space-simulations, Infinite Space is more complex in terms of storyline and game-play. Even though the game system is quite fresh and appealing, but it’s still no 5-year-development-cycle console RPG.

 

 

 

(http://www.sega.com/games/?g=375) Rated T for Teen by ESRB. While space travels had always been a dream for mankind, Infinite Space by Sega provides you with the opportunity to do just that. Infinite Space is a science-fiction role-playing game about space and dreams. Unlike the usual shooting-dodging schemes found in space-simulations, Infinite Space is more complex in terms of storyline and game-play. Even though the game system is quite fresh and appealing, but it’s still no 5-year-development-cycle console RPG.

Presentation:
In a distant future, mankind has migrated to the stars, and spread across the universe. Spaceships and star gates become the only way for transportation between different stars and galaxies. However, space travel is never easy as starlanes are pirate infested and chaos ensues. Yet for someone, it is place of unlimited opportunities.

The story begins in Ropesk, a backwater planet where space travels are strictly forbidden. Yuri, the main character, thinking of the freedom and the limitless opportunity in space, called for Nia the “Launcher,” who helped him reach the infinite space in defiance of the law. Together, they started a new page of space traveling. On one hand, Yuri explores the infinity; on the other hand, seeks the answer to the mysterious only memoir of his father – the Epitaph.

The story continued with tension and excitement. As Yuri grew, more crew members and ships join Yuri and they fight not only minions but galaxy-famous pirates and criminals, which changes the scale from a battle to a war. Even then, bigger threats always present themselves just as you think the situation can’t get any more desperate for Yuri and his crews. The storyline is extremely well-written. It is not a bit predictable and sometimes the climaxes and twists will drop your jaws in complete astonishment.

While Infinite Space is successful with the overall plot, it does not neglect the small details such as character backgrounds and personality. There are quite a number of members to choose from as the story progresses. Every character is unique. They will give you different advices throughout the game according to their personality and experience. And relationships between crew members strengthen as the story progresses.

Graphics:
Certain aspects of the game’s graphics put a cap on the amount of enjoyment one can have from this potentially revolutionary game. Infinite Space is presented in both 2D and 3D graphics. Being a conventional role-play game, a good chunk of the game is devoted to conversations. All characters and most landscape backgrounds are presented in 2D hand-drawn graphics. 3D graphic is used in battles or while traveling through space. Comparing to standard of typical 3D DS games, the quality of graphic that Infinite Space presents is stunning. In battles, both spaceships (the upper screen) and the bridge (lower screen) are highly detailed. Unfortunately, the lack of interaction of the figures holds back the potential of the otherwise glorious graphics. For instance, as an order to fire is commanded, the only thing that changes in the lower screen is the monitor in a tiny corner of the bridge. The top screen, however offers an animation of firing guns. Even though they are in details, the lengthy repetitive scenes call for a skip after just a few times.

Throughout the game, camera is fixed so you cannot really look around at the “Infinite Space.” In addition, the upper screen can only display only one enemy at a time from the side during battles, despite that they are fleet-based with up to 10 ships participating in any given fight. It reduces the excitement a great deal when Yuri is supposed to be looking at 5 ships straight ahead and the screen displays just one ship from the sideline. You can move toward or away from the enemy but the distance is only made clear through the use of a meter. Even in melee attack, which can only happen while two ships are in contact, the upper screen does not show the contact at all. The only way to identify the distance between you and enemy is the scale and marks placed on the top of the upper screen.

       

Sounds:
The sounds here are a bit chaotic though the individual components are acceptable. Original tracks used in Infinite Space give you a decent mood of where you are or what is happening. Unfortunately, it is hard to pay any attention to any of these at length because the rapid music switching becomes spastic as the scene changes swiftly, and you just listen to the first few notes most of the time.

Sound effects like gun shooting or fighting is placed naturally along with the story-telling, adding some flavors as the story goes. But some of the sounds, such as laser firing, are familiar to a fault especially to fans of Star Wars, Star Trek, etc.

Voice acting could be found in battle scene when open fire command is ordered. Yet the acting fails to boost the mood with its lifeless intonation.

Gameplay:
Comparing to other classic spaceship-battle games like Salamander, Infinite Space is a totally different kind of game. Rather than moving and dodging while shooting at the same time, it is more of an RPG instead. Outside of combat, Yuri (player) serves the role as the captain of his ships and crews. Infinite Space allows you to do anything a captain would do such as shopping for blueprints, remodeling the ship, or managing the crew. And of course you are also responsible for where to go and who to talk to.

Especially worth mentioning is the remodeling system. There is really no restriction of how or what modules to install, as long as you can fit them into the ship. Modules are represented in Tetris-like blocks and each ship has different shaped rooms for module installation. The remodeling system is like a mini-game in which you need to fit the pieces of modules to be installed into the available space. The huge variety of modules further increases the addictiveness by means of customization. Since no ship can carry all the different types of modules, you will have to pick which ones are the most important.

Combat in Infinite Space uses a real time battle system, in which both you and the opponent need to wait for the energy level to recharge before giving any command. There are 3 at-will commands – forward, backward, and standby, for adjusting the distance between yourself and the opponent. On top of that, there are three basic commands – normal attack, barrage and dodge. Similar to rock-paper-scissors, barrage > normal attack > dodge > barrage. Others commands such as melee attack and special attacks becomes available as the game progress. As there are quite a bit of information in the screen, you will need at least a couple hours to get familiar with the battle system before you really know what you are doing. After you have figured out the controls and tactics behind them, the game becomes far less challenging.

When you have developed your strategies for the fights, you may recognize that AI has limited tactics. As the AI becomes less challenging, you can compete with your friends via DS wireless communications. The only difference between playing with AI and player is that when you are playing with AI, you lose when Yuri’s ship sinks whereas you fight to the last ship against a human player.

       

Innovation:
Compelling storytelling and encounter systems draw players’ attention from endless battles to the rich and complex storyline. And even though the battle system is based on rock-paper-scissors rules, blended with real time, the system creates a whole new style on gameplay and tactics. Still there are lots of rooms for improvement and Infinite Space has opened a new possibility on space-simulations or sci-fi genres of games.

Longevity:
It takes quite a while in order to complete the game, mainly due to the steep learning curve and complexity of the story. The main story takes about 40 to 50 hours, though the engaging and exciting story is not the sole reason for the comparatively lengthy DS title. One reason for the length is the lack of clear direction to progress the story line, most of the time there’s no way to revisit an objective after it had been stated in highlighted yellow text. It may end up forcing you to canvass all the planets in a star system, especially if you don’t have the patience to read all the text. Another reason is that Yuri’s income does not increase as much as the intensity of threat that awaits him as the story progresses, you will need to spend gradually lengthier period to earn money for new ships and parts.

Upon completing the story, you will have access to the Extra Mode as well as the new game plus – transferring your credits and crew member levels. Both of them are excellent additions if you enjoy the unique combat and addictive upgrade system.

       

Conclusion:
Infinite Space exceeds many expectations for a handheld RPG, it also exceed many expectations for a space simulation. On the one hand, it is almost like a traditional RPG with a space theme since the freedom on traveling is rather limited; on the other hand, the amount of ships with all their models will drive any sci-fi geeks mad with adore.

As a game, it is rare for refreshing story and gameplay to come along on a portable device, let alone in a package. It is hard to say if one outshines the other, because the story provides the initial reason for money grinding – to buy bigger ship to overcome a boss fight or to venture into a tougher area. However, the act of purchasing new ships and modules soon becomes addictive on their own – it was especially hard to resist buying new fighters after possessing a carrier. Overall, it is impressive for a handheld game to excel on both fronts.

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