Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 with Star Marine has a lot to offer gamers, but there are definite problems that need addressing.
Some time ago, I reviewed the Star Citizen Alpha and, aside from a few hiccups, was pretty pleased with what I saw. Today, those issues seem to have been ironed out, only to replaced with new — and arguably worse — ones.
One thing’s for sure; Star Citizen has come a long way since I last discussed it. Like before, I’m still in a state of perpetual excitement as this crowdfunded gem inches its way to the inevitable release. The thought of seeing the likenesses of actors like Mark Hamill and Gillian Anderson hit my computer screen just shows how much this game means business.
But perhaps the biggest change with Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 is the new Star Marine gameplay mode, which comes across as serious FPS goodness. But again, like any Alpha, there are a few things to iron out.
After each patch gradually released, Star Citizen’s biggest leap arguably came in the form of its new Star Marine gameplay mode.
To be fair, there’s nothing too special about it. When you boil it down, Star Marine is just your run-of-the mill FPS. It plays and feels like Call of Duty or Medal of Honor. But that’s what makes it — and virtually all FPS games — so great. Their controls are universal (unlike the insanely complex flight mechanic), so Star Marine was easy to pick up and play.
For me, however, there was one glaring issue during my first match (and subsequent matches): I suck at first person shooters. I mean, REALLY suck at them. I guess I’m just born to be a pilot. Put me in a flying vehicle and I’ll clean up the skies (or space) faster than you can say “look at this n00b who can’t fire a gun.”
In fact, the closest I came to killing anyone was a blast to the torso at point blank range; but in that scenario, both myself and my opponent died simultaneously.
So will I be playing Star Marine when Star Citizen finally rolls out? Probably not. But as far as FPS modes, it looks to be a solid 10/10.
I need to state for the record that I might have fared a bit better, if it wasn’t for the 2.6 build’s greatest problem…
The Glitch to End All Glitches
When I first tried Star Citizen, I faced a slew of problems that required hours of painstaking forum research. But they were related to things like installation and login issues. Once I got past that, it was smooth sailing. Not so much now.
After logging in to try the game again, I decided to set foot in the persistent universe to see what’s what. The second I did, however, I noticed any gamer’s biggest nightmare — the frame rate had plummeted. I’m not talking about a minor change here. It was essentially unplayable. Before, I was able to set the graphics on “high” and easily hit a cool 60 FPS. Now, nothing seems to change, no matter how low the graphics get.
I tried overclocking my graphics card (not really something I’m keen on doing with a gaming laptop). No luck. I went into the Nvidia Control Panel and tweaked the settings. Again, my efforts proved to be virtually fruitless. So off to the forums I went yet again.
As it turns out, I’m not alone. Apparently, the persistent universe took a serious hit since the 2.3 Alpha build. People everywhere were saying that the game’s framerate dropped because of server lag. I breathed a sigh of relief and stopped overclocking before my laptop before I turned it into a George Foreman grill. But that didn’t change the fact that it sucked.
Some forum users did report the opposite, while others suggested using a custom config file. But the game’s creators urged against this practice, as it was apparently causing problems on their end, so I declined to go down that route. What I can I say, I guess I’m a good (star) citizen.
Luckily, Star Marine didn’t appear to be affected by this. It stuttered once in a blue moon, but not to the point where it impaired my ability to get the ever-loving crap kicked out of me by people with actual skill. But that didn’t stop the game from plaguing me as I desperately tried to dodge bullets.
The only other graphics problem I experienced in this mode was my tendency to walk through walls. Now, I know I died a lot, but I doubt the game was trying to treat me like a ghost as a way to troll me. Yet on more than one occasion, my character magically walked through walls and ended up in the vast void of space. If I hadn’t been dying with dignity before, it certainly was humiliating now. But for the purposes of this review, I had to live with it — and live with it I did.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned from my forays into the FPS genre, it’s that good customization options help a great deal. In this respect, Star Marine seems to have that covered.
Immediately before starting, you can choose your weapons and armor. I’m not sure exactly how this affects gameplay, but I can assume that lighter armor trades protection for agility, and vice-versa.
There were also lots of great options for weapons customization. I stuck with your typical medium-range machine gun, but I noticed a lot of players liked short-range weapons that resembled shotguns. This was never my style, but I tried it anyway (leading to my aforementioned kill).
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Another important improvement was that Star Citizen Alpha 2.6 seems to have addressed the glaring reload issue. Referring back to my previous review, I complained about an issue where guns would get stuck and not reload. Naturally, this would’ve been a major problem in an FPS arena situation; so in that respect, I’m glad they seemed to have sorted it out.
Final Thoughts on Star Citizen Alpha 2.6
Ultimately, Star Citizen still suffers from problems. But like before, I give them a pass based on the Alpha excuse. With a game of this size and scope, it’s just plane unrealistic to expect perfection during development. However, considering how well issues are being addressed, I’m confident that the final product will be just as mind-blowing as everyone hopes.
Featured Image: courtesy of Roberts Space Industries