Remember the Wolves? Star Wolves game review

Somewhere between waiting for Star citizen and playing Space Excel, I decided to remember one of my favorite childhood games.
Space has always attracted people, since ancient times we have been looking into the blackness dotted with millions of stars, dreaming one day to reach the unreachable, and games to some extent gave us such an opportunity, an opportunity to dive into the vastness of space ourselves, to experience all its wonders and dangers on our own skin. There is a Russian game about outer space, which now for some reason few people remember, that's what I would like to talk about today.

Once upon a time in Krasnodar there was a small game studio "Xbow Software", worked there about twenty people, they lived quietly, didn't bother anyone, mending primus and were making various relatively free stuff in passing. And one rainy morning they came to 1C and said "Give me money". Since that was the dawn of Russian game development, they were given some money.
So in 2004 they released the studio's first major project - Star Wolves. It was a wild mixture of space strategy games such as "Homeworld", tactical battles like "Jagged Alliance" and a light touch of old "Bioware" games. There was no big furore, but players and critics received Wolves warmly, noting the interesting battles, leveling system, variety of weapons and not the worst story, the ratings were in the region of eight to nine.

I think we should start with the launch and, so to speak, the old problems associated with the release date. All surprisingly well here, the game installs and runs without problems, well, at least on Windows7. Even in its basic resolution it is played normally on a full HD monitor, and by changing one line in Notepad, you can put any resolution, though with increasing resolution interface decreases - this, of course, the usual problem for old games, but still unpleasant.
Familiarity with the local history, it is better to start with the educational mission. First, for all the convenience of the interface (except for the god-awful trading), the controls take some getting used to, and the key assignments here are a bit harder to change than the resolution. Secondly, the tutorial sets the starting point of the story and connects the introductory video to the start of the game.
Here in the tutorial we are introduced to another aspect of the game - the graphics. It is, of course, old, soapy and not detailed, but pardon me, 2004. It's not about the graphics after all, we're not really looking at the close ups here, most of the time we're looking at the space. Also it is not perfect here, mainly it is a nice background and a couple of objects in the foreground, but it does the job of creating the atmosphere.
Also the music works for the atmosphere and although at the beginning it seemed to me that it was a little heavy in places, especially in the moments of meditative picking up of the equipment. Surprisingly it never gets boring during passage, perfectly emphasizes dynamic battles and completes the picture of a small, helpless shell travels with people in an immeasurable vacuum.

Okay, something I got carried away, let's return to the start of the game.
After tutorial we are greeted with a character creation screen, "creation" is an overspeak word, of course, it's only possible to choose a name and a specialization. There are four of them: pilot, gunner, rocket launcher and technician. Each specialty has its own tree of development, its own passive and active skills, as well as your favourite weapon.
The pilot is a virtuoso at controlling the ship. He can make mind-blowing turns and expertly evade enemy attacks. The gunner can take out enemies at any distance with even the most obnoxious cannon. A technician is such a saport - he can hack the enemy's ship and fix his allies with a sledgehammer. In his hands he can turn any pile of technogenic rubbish into a synchrophasotron.
Well, skillful flamethrower with good rockets and with skilful control can be a real angel of death for the enemy.

Fight effectively but not everyone can afford it



. After selecting a specialty we enter the hangar, and here the magic of stuffiness is going on

.

Selling the old, buying and installing new equipment and weapons. The game has quite a lot of all sorts of systems, weapons, fighters and most of it is really in demand. Guns operate on different principles, and some enemies require a special approach, as well as each character prefers a certain type of weapons. If you are a perfectionist and like everything to be perfect, you will spend as much time here, if not more than on the quests.

Actually about tasks, they are located in the next tab. Usually there are a few to choose from and you can do them in any order. Meet here as a story, and just orders to make money, unfortunately, to distinguish one from the other can only be in context, because they are not denoted as. And since after a certain story task may be missing side, it is not very convenient. There are also mutually exclusive missions and cases when the same task you hire different sides of the conflict and you decide who to join. some characters, joining himself, bring a couple of jobs, so that the list of jobs will depend on the composition of the team. All this makes each playthrough unique, here you complete missions in a different sequence, there you refuse to take a companion to the team and here you have a slightly different adventure. Also in this tab are news and letters from customers and members of your team, they tell about what is happening in the world and reveal the story.

The plot in Wolves is pretty simple and linear, with one fork in it that is also trivial and solved in dialogue. Structurally, the plot is similar to the TV series and tells the story of how two friends decided to create their own mercenary unit. They convert a transport ship into a mobile base and start taking orders, with more and more team members joining them in the process. And meanwhile a big mess is breaking out somewhere in the background: civil war, skynet, aliens, and at the beginning this group of daredevils and adventurers manages, so to say, to fish in troubled waters, working for one or the other. But it could not go on like this for long, they got more and more famous, they started to appear in news reports and at one not so beautiful moment, as they say, they got into a serious scrape, now they are in the thick of things.

All the characters here are distinct types. There is a blonde from a rich family who has never run a yacht, a dashing pirate captain, a half-mad scientist solving alien riddles at the snap of a finger, a strange man with a dark past and other archetypes. All of them have a unique tree of development and active skills, if the blonde never really fought, then, and it will not shoot a shitty shot in any case, but can temporarily share their phenomenal luck with the entire squad. A scientist who developed the world's best shield generator is not a very good soldier, but can put and take away shields with one look. Artificial Intelligence thinks in binary system, so the prices of all of its skills are a multiple of 2, 4, 8, 16, 32, 64 and so on.
At the beginning I said that in Star Wars there is something from old Bioware games, and it is partly true, the concept of group adventure reminds the creations of this studio, but still don't expect to see serious character reveals, long conversations about life and psychological torments of characters. Most of the time they are silent spacers between the remote control and the fighter's seat, occasionally passing phrases or participating in plot dialogues and that's all. This, of course, does not add depth, but it is surprising, despite this, the game manages to create a unique spirit of adventure, during the passage of so get used to this gang and the ship, that the old truck, converted to battle, becomes family, and every missed missile gives pain in the heart.

Loved the old "Game over" beautifullySelecting



the job, we get to the sector where it will take place

.

Sector size can be different, one even has an internal network of portals, so as not to fly for a long time. On the spot, we are met by the customer and explains the details, then usually comes a sequence of tasks such as: protect the point, escort the cargo, intercept the cargo, blow up the station, find something, kill or save someone, and so on, all in different order, proportions and story justifications. It would seem - banality, but it's all skillfully composed and seasoned with a considerable amount of variability, and it seems to me, in this is where the main attraction of the game. The last time I played Wolves was about 10 years ago and now, having started to play it for the review, I was amazed by how strong the feeling of freedom this linear game from 2004 brings, even in comparison with many modern RPGs. Yes the story is essentially straight as a stick, with a fork at the end, but within the missions you are almost unrestricted in your choice of means. Sure, each mission has a clearly spelled out sequence of actions, but when the player pops the question "can I?" the game usually answers "you can!".
First, I recommend that you visit all the objects in the sector, in case you find a couple of extra tasks or some funny guy selling a cat in a bag. Second, each mission has several solutions, including the cardinal one - kill everyone and fly away. That said, even complete failure of most quests does not lead to the end of the game, you simply return to the trading station without receiving a reward and take the next order. Also don't forget that this is a twenty-something game, which means that there are a lot of, so to speak, undocumented features.

Here are a few examples:
You have a task to steal a certain prototype
.
In the system the client meets you and tells you the details, but you realize that he's not the most law-abiding citizen, even at this stage you can: refuse the assignment and fly away, get the job done, kill the client and fly away, kill the client and try to make a case for yourself. And in the future, there will be a couple more opportunities. This is an example of freedom, laid down by the developer.

And here is another:
Your global goal is to rob a robbery. So you fly in, and you begin to be guided: fly to the patrol, to find the best place for an ambush, do one more thing, then fly to agree with the pirates to help, and only then attack the goat. You really can do all this, and can only stand at the portal through which they arrived and wait for the appearance of the hawker, scatter it in space, if of course enough strength, collect the loot and quietly fly into the same portal. That's it!

Or here:
There is a chain of missions, the last of which is the destruction of the enemy flagship, but if you know in advance where it is or find it by chance, you can just skip the intermediate tasks, reducing the passage
.

And that feeling when you slightly, not critically, but still cheat the game is great! Just a gamer's orgasm! Now, when the games are thought out every last move and you are led by the hand everywhere it's like a breath of fresh air.
Just do not forget that such flirting with scripts not always ends well, there are problems, but the risk only adds excitement, no? Yes, and the game makes a separate autosave after each task, so the risk is not great.
Speaking of saves, there are 3 known bugs: one of the missions can not go on easy difficulty - the game simply crashes. There is a customer who is initially hostile to you and immediately attack. And in the other mission can not rescue the target, but all of these missions, one way or another, can be done, and it also says something about the flexibility of the game. However, for each bug there is an unofficial fix.

It's time to tell about the battles, it seems, the battles are one of the main elements of the game, if not the most important. However, there is not much to tell about them. There is a main base and a maximum of 6 fighters, the battle takes place in real time, but at any time you can turn on a pause to give instructions or activate skills. The fighters team up in formations, where each has their own task, whether it be attacking, covering, defending against missiles, or repairing. All characters have skills to work in a squadron, someone well versed in tactics - he should be put in charge, someone masterful with systems - he either repairs everyone, or covers from missiles. The loners are more effective on their own.

To a casual observer the battle looks like a chaotic piling of icons and lines, but an experienced eye can see all the nuances of the charming dance of death



. But, in fact, the need for tactical tricks appears mainly on higher levels of difficulty, here the "Zerg rush" will not work, you have to watch every character, know their strengths and weaknesses

.

You have to think, and zagruzvatsya.
On medium level, in principle, you can take out most of the battles through a clever and thoughtful selection of equipment and skills development, resorting to controlling each individual fighter only in the most difficult battles.
And on a light one? Well, it's easy on light, what more can I say.
The most enjoyable thing is that the difficulty here is honest and is achieved not by stupidly increasing enemy's damage, changing the type and number of enemy's ships, as well as the level of equipment available to them.

I think it is worth mentioning and the most famous modification for the game - "Legacy of the Empire", from the team "Elite-Games".



This mod adds a huge mountain of new technologies: weapons, systems, ships, and completely changes the balance. And it's nice, in fact in the main game of a variety of equipment enough only for one passage, and the introduction of a large number of new positively affects the replayability. True, there are problems with the balance of all this junk, if in the base game increasing the difficulty and the appearance of new guns goes smoothly, then in the mod the balance resembles a cardiogram of a hypertensive person. There are entire quests during which the entire team snores peacefully in their cribs on the base ship while its AI flies and annihilates everything in its path. And there are battles that are impossible to get through without prepping or taking advantage of some of the local enemy AI's imperfections. With finances is also a problem, there is always a surplus of money and you can buy everything you want, but it spoils the impression. Yes there is a mod for balancing finances, but to put modification for modification - it's too much.
Also added a new story line, consisting of several missions with its end. And the story told here is not bad, it is organically integrated into the main plot and based on it one of the next games in the series. Unfortunately, in the last missions there is such a circus with horses that you want to cover your face. When a team of six fighters and a truckload of guns, time after time to destroy the entire fleet of special forces of a professional army with battleships at the head - it, to put it mildly, it looks absurd. And okay if these moments were hard to pass, but no, on high difficulty, most of them I passed the first time, no losses, almost no combat control, just put everyone on base defense, turn on the increase in speed and wait, using the rollback skills.

You shouldn't have surrounded the wolf, oh you shouldn't....



Overall, the mod is interesting, but when you first encounter the game is better to refrain from it, it will add interest in the second passage, and if you know exactly what you will not play again, there is a light version, which adds only the story, here it can be put and the first time.

In the end I can't even exactly say what this game pulls me in, not a bad space adventure? Interesting battles? The music and atmosphere? The stuff and picking out the best combination of gear? I don't know, none in particular and all together.

But maybe I'm just a nostalgic old fogey, and the game really sucks, try it and find out!




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