Space Crew: Legendary Edition is a PlayStation port of the 2020 PC game Space Crew. In the current gaming generation that we have, porting a game is not new. In fact, it is one of the earliest concept implemented in selling games to a wider audience. Allowing you to play one game from one platform to another that is initially unavailable at launch. For example, Frostpunk was initially a PC exclusive but was ported to both Xbox and PlayStation along with its DLC and it was a masterful stroke of genius. Another port we will be looking into is Space Crew. What makes Space Crew unique to FTL, which is a game in the same genre, is that it mixes the crew management akin to XCOM.
The plot of Space Crew: Legendary Edition revolves around you battling the hostile takeover of an alien species while preserving the peace in the solar system. It drew a lot of inspiration from other sci-fi genre that has come before it. Particularly, it also drew the aesthetic from the 1950’s akin to the Jetsons cartoon. While quite predictable and has more resemblance to that of Star Trek, it narrows its story towards the solar system in general. Story wise, it’s a “turn off your brains” kind of game, due to the usual plot that is present to the other sci-fi games on the market. What it excels in is the game mechanics and its micro managing aspects.
The game’s selling point is the micro managing aspect where you can manage things. From its ship part down to the very color of your crew uniform. This gives you the feeling of being personally attached to your crew and ship. Next, let’s talk about the gameplay. While heavily inspired by FTL, rather than being a turn-based battle, the fight takes place in real time. Adding another layer of complexity to the mix. This means you can maneuver for a better position to get a decent shot, evasion and other edge you can have against your enemies
Now for the in-game stats and in-depth customization. The items you give to your crew can save them or bring them to their downfall. For instance, once you manage to unlock crew weapons, your crew can now easily defend themselves from hostiles boarding your ship. Or if you equip them with space suit, they can survive the vacuum of space if they were thrown out. Another thing would be the ship amenities and other ship features such as the medbay and the reactor. Each is vital to your victory and survival. Just like FTL, you have to manage your ship’s power supply. Thus, there’s an urgency to power down one component over the other. Of course some factors can mitigate this issue such as having autocannons installed rather than energy cannons, but this comes at a cost of damage. This “by the number” kind of risk rewards is kinda expected on a game with a seemingly rogue-like and action-oriented kind of gameplay. Don’t get me wrong, balancing the power supply and positioning for both offense and defense is not determined just by the stat boost given by the allotted equipment.
Now that we’re done discussing the features, let’s talk about the downside of Space Crew and these downsides came in droves, just like the enemies you encounter here. First, would be the grindy nature of the game that needs you to do several missions to unlock basic functions. Then there is the Crew’s AI which has the same survival instinct as Natalya from Goldeneye. Then there is the controls, which seems to be an enemy on itself.
Let’s talk about grinding first. Grinding allows you to work hard to get better equipment, however it seems to be more about panning out the gameplay in order to extend the hours of game time. Why? A basic upgrade could take you a couple of missions to obtain. And that’s just for one upgrade. There are tons and tons of upgrade for both your ship and your crew to get if you want to stand a chance against the onslaught of enemies that will be coming towards you. Now, one would say, “Hey, just do the main missions and you’re set”. The thing is, those negative aspect of the game I mentioned? Well they all coincide with each other making it the trifecta of disaster in the heat of combat.
Speaking of combat, let’s talk about the survival instinct of your crew, or honestly the lack of one. While you are able to position your ship from a specific point on the area, you have to do it via an order from your captain. While a unique concept, this comes at a cost when the situation is quite sticky and you need every man on a weapon or other tasks and your captain orders you to do something, you’d be good as dead. And this isn’t even my personal beef towards the AI during combat. What is quite infuriating is that the AI lacks situational awareness. While granted, it will auto position the ship once the enemy comes close, AI will do it regardless even if you are in front of an asteroid or have a predetermined position that could have a good cover. Speaking of asteroids, if you set a course for a point beyond it, they will travel towards it even if there is an asteroid blocking your way. They won’t try to maneuver around it. Remember you only control the ship via captain’s order. So you better have a precognition on the movement of the asteroids. Then there is the gunners. You have to give them orders for them to attack. Like dude, we are being attacked. Can’t you open fire on the enemies that are visible? So yes you have to master the biggest enemy of the game. Controls.
Of all the blemish I can pin point from this gem, the controls would be the biggest. Simply put it this way. One button branches to different commands. Granted, it is far more streamlined and less cluttered. But one instance that still irks me is that when in combat, if you need your engineer to go somewhere, you would need to press one button and perform several actions under that one button. In the end, it just became a cluttered mess. Then the touchpad has no function whatsoever. Personally, I wish it could have been used to order your crew to leave their station to commandeer a weapon system. Then there is the in-game equipment such as fire extinguisher or plasma rifle, one wrong press and you are back at the ship interface. Now multiply that to a hundred while in combat.
For my final verdict, this game is an enjoyable game no doubt about that. But unless the controls are revamped or at the very least a precognition on the enemy movement, you’d need a button mashing skill that is akin to a skilled fighting game player to the amount of back and fort from one menu to another. Simply put it this way, as a casual player, the entry to this is hampered by the controls themselves. As such, a game with multiple mechanics, you need to not only master the controls on the crew level but as well as the proper layout of the ship’s equipment. Overall, it is a great game, but it has a poorly ported and under utilized controls, has a grindy nature, and has the lack luster AI. It is sad that such port is hampered by those three crucial factors. But if the devs could fix the controls or utilize the touch pad on the DS4. This can truly change the game for the better. Until then, this is just one of those poorly ported PC game which aims for a quick cash grab. And I hate to say it that way because it isn’t. A lot of thought and work was put into this game.