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Space Engineers

is a voxel-based sandbox game set in an asteroid field in space. It is currently available as an early access game, and is being developed and published by the indie... read more

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Space Engineers Preview

Author: dunhila
12-Jan-2016

Category: Preview

Keen Software House annihilates all other block-based sandbox games with Space Engineers. Creativity has never been pushed so far and astuteness of ingame mechanics is almost unbelievable.

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What about reality?

We are moving ever so closely to breaching the lines between what is a virtual space and real life. Space Engineers has set in motion the next step in that direction. It's isn't about the vast open worlds it offers but more importantly, the intriguing and deeply developed gameplay mechanics within. The most vital aspect of survival have been fully represented. As it is in real life, so it is in Space Engineers, attaining Oxygen will be the top priority of anyone who dares wonder the planets and spaces. In the game there is a full fledged system to make the player experience the way oxygen is harvested and reserved for the astronaut suit one needs in order to survive. Collecting this precious chemical element is rather hard to do, since it isn't present in most planets because of their atmospheres. They don't contain it, just like our own planet billions of year ago. Although not everyone will burst of excitement when first introduced to the exiting way to produce your own oxygen, mostly because the system is almost too advanced for a video game, I couldn't help but be stupefied by the implementation.

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Never have I stumbled upon a better working ingame system that requires beforehand knowledge so that it can be used. Space Engineers isn't aimed towards the casual gaming community, I have to admit that it was the first game which forced me to catch up to its speed and do some light reading on its wikipedia page. Bringing back the oxygen puzzlement, one has to fathom the Cryogenic liquification process which basically in short tries to explain how oxygen is frozen. Several machines are required to extract the chemical element from ice that is found on asteroids. Here comes into play the oxygen extractor in which the player places ice, then a conveyor delivers the pure oxygen into a oxygen tank (for spaceships) and stores it there. There is also a full explanation about how much oxygen is consumed by a space engineer inside his suit. One of the first and most amusing situations I had with this game was when I released oxygen from the storage directly into space. The decompressing of the room I was in lead all of my oxygen away into the unknown. It is determined as a bizarre situation yet I found myself in it for a good hour and a half.

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Block-building has never been so fun.

This is actually the point of such a game. To have this sandbox and be able to create whatever your heart desires. To explore the infinite possibilities in the large and open environment. It is also impossible to compare this game to something like Minecraft, the two are worlds apart. I have always felt that the cube building in Minecraft was too simplistic. Space Engineers also allows the character to leave a planet he is inhabiting, to create giant space stations and crafting in open space is delightful. Ship building is beyond one's comprehension of how much sophistication a video game can contain. Space Engineers doesn't encourage you to go in without having a plan on what you are about to construct. I mean that. By my side during the entire playtime, my trusty notepad was laying. Designing a vessel is a very crucial part of it's development and this is personal experience talking because I did try to create a space craft from the get go without any plan on how it would function, it didn't turn out well. Quick advice here, when starting a new build, making it in outer space instead of the surface of a planet is a good idea. I was careless when crafting my original and giant spaceship and by the end, there was no place to put thrusters so the vehicle can take off. Another issue is that the planet I was on had gravity so if I tried to remove some cubes here and there, the entire thing would come tumbling down and hours of work would have been lost.

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After spending some time on drawing a base model for the vessel, arranging what type of objects you plan on putting in a room is also an important step. Since Space Engineers tries to aim for realism very strongly, a lot of machinery goes into a spaceship including nuclear generator(generates nuclear power for normal thrusters), oxygen tanks and harvesters, thrusters, gyroscope (this gizmo allow for pitching the ship when in flight), antennas, drill (required for building a mining vessel), rockets and/or turrets (required for crafting an assault vessel), let us not forget the gravity generator which allows for gravity on your spacecraft. Most of these machines are enormous that is why you have to consider very carefully what type of vehicle is going to do you justice.

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Whether it will be a small assault craft that you want to use in order to destroy other player or simply the AI in the game, a special mining spaceship which needs a lot of tools to operate and harvest vital resources in space such as oxygen and hydrogen, or since this game isn't linear in any way-mix and match. There is a lot to take into account when constructing a spacecraft one of which is the weight. I was anxious to make my first vehicle fast so I made initial errors in the design and construction and the smaller thrusters which I had installed at the bottom weren't powerful enough to lift my vessel of the ground. Inside of the spacecraft you could find over six nuclear generator that made the machine cumbersome and it just stood there no matter how hard I was pressing the spacebar. 


Steam's Workshop becomes the most powerful ally. 

One of the greatest privileges of having a personal computer instead of a console is modding. Space Engineers has by its side the largest roaster of community created items you can imagine. It could be something as simple as a character model or as advanced as an entire modding pack including all sorts of different blocks. The exceptional opportunity to dive deep into pages of content related to your favorite things, is presented here.I am aware of the giant fan base of the Warhammer universe and I am pleased to announce that you can build even Dreadnoughts thanks to the added world objects.

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Star Wars aficionados have to jump onto the modding train too. Haven't you always wanted to build your own Star Destroyer or better yet have the blueprint already done so you can just start it up and fly? Tie Fighters, Clone Gunships and the most essential piece of Star Wars memorabilia- the Millennium Falcon.Last but not least, skyboxes are also downloadable meaning that even the Death Star can make its way into the game. It looks miraculous, almost truly authentic, simply mesmerizing. It is the same unfinished model the Rebel Alliance faced in Return of the Jedi. This could potentially invite another group of players to Space Engineers, those that are fond of the Fallout universe. The almighty power armor you can play with in Fallout 3, is also available as a modded item. Being in it in outer space is one of the best experiences for me so far. 

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Optimization is required but no bugs found.

Game's performance on my rig was splendid. Some trouble was reaching a 60 frames per second which is the ideal number for gamers but I wasn't bother that much by it, plus I have to note that I am running the game on 1440p resolution. My setup also wasn't configured for the best visuals, so things like texture quality and foliage details were set to medium while shadow and voxel quality was at high. Since these were the standards set by the game for my personal computer, I didn't want to mess much with them but I did. Looking at the recommended system requirements,a GTX 660 Ti is needed to max out everything.I am equipped with a GTX980 Ti and couldn't do it if I wanted to retain a decent framerate. Note that the game is rendering a lot of objects and is an Early Access product, so I believe developers will have a lot of time to iron out performance problems. The game features Xbox Controller support and includes a large variety of languages for the interface, some of which Czech, Estonian, Spanish, Italian and more.


Overall, I would give this game 8.5 out of 10 because of some performance issues on a very powerful gaming rig.



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