New strategy games are always a nice thing to see for Xbox One, so it was great to see that Starpoint Gemini Warlords, a popular PC game from early 2017, make its way to Xbox. However, while the gameplay overall is solid, both the story and the presentation leave quite a bit to be desired.
Story and campaign aren't worth your time
The plot of Gemini Warlords is about as uninteresting as a game can get. You are tasked with expanding and improving control of multiple sectors of the Gemini galaxy with your fleets in order to crush rebel forces. It's an OK idea on paper, but the problem is that none of the characters or factions are well-written or have any depth. As a result, there's no real reason for me to care about the story.
Storytelling has never been great in strategy games. Unfortunately, the campaign missions themselves are also lacking in complexity or challenge, and that's a problem when the game's genre is about trying to test your decision-making skills. The campaign is simple, shallow, and easy, which is everything you don't want.
Gameplay is a tried-and-true strategy formula
While the campaign is a massive letdown, the free-roam mode — the one that allows you to play the game as you see fit as opposed to mission scenarios — is a vast improvement. Thankfully, this is where you'll be spending most of your time because of how short the story is. From your command ship, it's up to you to build and expand your bases, construct structures, create a fleet, and engage enemy forces.
Your foes in this mode feel a lot more intelligent than those of the campaign, and this allows for the strategy aspect of Gemini Warlords to shine. Learning what ships and upgrades you'll need to defeat certain foes, as well as when to engage and when to retreat, is a thought-provoking process that will leave you satisfied. Though there aren't any new or unique ideas here, the gameplay is solid.
Presentation and performance ... please, make it stop
As well-designed as the overall gameplay is, it's a shame that the visuals and sound designs of Gemini Warlords are so lackluster that it can often be difficult to enjoy the game for more than an hour.
Graphics, while certainly not critical to the experience, are below-average here. Strategy titles have never been known to have state-of-the-art visuals, but I can't help but feel that this isn't a valid excuse for the poor texture work and simplistic looking special effects. Because of this, there's no excuse for poor performance, which Gemini Warlords unfortunately has. Frame rates dip quite often, and audio occasionally cuts out, too.
Speaking of the audio, it is perhaps the worst aspect of this game's presentation. The sound effects during gameplay are incredibly annoying, with the same type of high-pitched whine being used for nearly every ability in the game. The music isn't that interesting, either, and tends to sound repetitive thanks to the lack of many different tracks. In general, there is very little variation in Gemini Warlords' sound.
Starpoint Gemini Warlords for Xbox One conclusion
Though the gameplay is great, the story of Gemini Warlords is incredibly unsatisfying. Pair this with the fact that the game's performance and presentation are severely lacking, too, and you have a game that fails to build upon its strong foundation and feels shallow overall.
- Great gameplay.
- Lack of satisfying story and campaign.
- Performance and presentation are lackluster.
Starpoint Gemini Warlords is available on Xbox One for $34.99.
This review was conducted on an Xbox One, using a copy provided by the publisher.
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