In space, no one can hear you go “pew,pew,pew”.
SOL: Exodus, an arcade style 3D space combat game from Seamless Entertainment, starts with a story that may seem familiar to sci-fi fans. Basically, the Earth is ruined and humanity has spread to the other planets within our Solar System. Bad goes to worse when it turns out that the sun is going to blow up, so ships are sent to find humanity somewhere else to live. Whilst they are off house hunting, a cult rises up and declares that it is Gods will for the sun to blow up, so humanity should basically sit and wait for extinction. Gameplay commences when one of the exploring ships, the UCS Atlas, finds an inhabitable planet.
Cue the player, who happens to be a fighter pilot aboard the UCS Atlas. As the UCS Atlas races home to our Solar System to spread the good news, they are attacked by a force that seems intent on preventing this planned “Exodus” – I wonder who that could be?. Thus, the player is launched into a hefty amount of space combat in their little fighter ship – the fate of humanity in their hands.
The actual space combat, which takes up the largest part of the game, is fast and frantic. It is also relatively smooth, with the players’ ship easy to control and moving with a certain amount of grace. Of course, grace won’t get you out of a dog-fight. For that, you need weapons, and SOL: Exodus surprisingly equips the player with only three – Gatling Guns, Missiles and the experimental MAG Cannon. The decision to include only three weapons, and only allow the player the most general of upgrades as they progress, feels like a missed opportunity to me. But at least the included weapons are solid.
The Gattling Guns will get the player up close and personal with the enemy and once they are in range of their chosen target, a lead indicator will helpfully give the player an idea of where to fire to cause damage. The missiles are launched by default with the “W” button, holding it down until locked on and released to fire. Then there is the MAG Cannon which fires a pulse of electromagnetically charged debris at the target. It is fairly slow, but does a massive amount of damage when it makes contact with the target. The Gattling Guns and MAG Cannon both overheat at a different rate, forcing the player to be considerate rather than just spamming the fire buttons.
The variety of enemies is somewhat sparse, with only a handful of different ship types. The highlight are the large Capital ships of the enemy which make for an epic encounter. These encounters give rise to a hacking mini-game, which is the only real variety in the gameplay, which will see the player stalling the engines, taking down defences or even turning the enemy ship’s armaments against other enemy ships. It’s quite good fun and inevitably ends with a big bang.
There is also a slight lack in variety when it comes to the mission types. There are eight missions in total, set across different areas of our Solar System, which for most most part see the player having to take care of numerous bad guys whilst protecting suitably helpless good guys. It’s not all bad, as there are some quite impressive ideas when it comes to the missions, but the fact is that the majority of the game involves simply flying around, shooting stuff. Not a problem if that is what you are looking for, but if you wanted something more, you are out of luck.
Players are free to choose from a variety of different control methods, with the keyboard/mouse combo being the default. Whilst using a controller of joystick may seem more comfortable, I found that the precision of the mouse was much more important, and there are not too many keys used on the keyboard, so learning where to press for those perhaps not too used to PC gaming should not be a problem.
Visually, the game looked really nice. There was a certain familiarity to our Solar System which made it pleasant, and there were lots of nice effects going on ensuring that there was something more interesting to look at than the darkness of space. The ships, both friendly and not so much, were not the most awe-inspiring to look at, but they were finished well and the simplicity of their designs gave a more “realistic” feel, if that’s possible with a space shooter.
Within the Iceberg Interactive published hard copy of the game, which is satisfyingly listed as a Collector’s edition, the player actually gets a few nice goodies, including an art book, the soundtrack and a key for the game on Steam, which is handy. But perhaps the most interesting addition over the base game is the inclusion of a new game mode – Survival. I’ll give you three guesses as to what is involved in this additional game mode…
Yeah, the title kind of gives that away doesn’t it. Quite simply, the player is tasked with surviving wave after wave of enemy ships as they seemingly loiter in space. It is not the most imaginative mode, and doesn’t really do anything to address the problem of repetition within the main game. But it is yet more content, and those gamers out there who have found the arcade-style space combat enjoyable in SOL: Exodus will be happy with more of the same.
SOL: Exodus offers some really exciting, solid space combat. If that is your thing, then you are in for a treat. But if you want more from your games, it may be best to keep looking. Buying the Collector’s Edition is most certainly worth the extra cash (SOL: Exodus is still a budget title with the Collector’s Edition retailing for around £14.99) if you are a fan of this genre, as it exclusively includes more content, and the art book and soundtrack are also a nice addition. However, the game will still only appeal to a very specialised audience, leaving other gamers disinterested due to its repetition and lack of variety.