Thursday, November 8, 2018

Starlink: Battle for Atlas Review

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The Toys to Life phenomenon seems to have all but died out over the last couple of years. Games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity ruled the day but fizzled out long before their time. Take a trip to my basement and see just how popular these figures were, at least in our house. With that said, I was a bit confused when Ubisoft announced they were making a new game that looked an awful lot like a toys to life game. Starlink: Battle for Atlas comes packaged with a ship you can can use in game, but I didn't play with that version. Ubisoft sent over a code for the game on PS4 so I will be covering that portion of the game, not the toys to life portion. But to be honest, if I didn't know the game came with toys, I wouldn't consider this one of them. The game itself is a fully featured product that actually works surprisingly well without any of the previous mentioned ships. So, if you're not in the market for new toys to fill up your basement, rest assured, Starlink is a fully featured space shooter that is one of the better ones in recent memory.

The story in Starlink: Battle For Atlas is a pretty standard sci-fi yarn. After an alien falls to Earth, an initiative is created (Starlink) to search for where the alien came from. Events occur that result in your team being split up and crash landed on an alien planet and the game takes off from there. Over the course of the game, you'll be introduced to new characters who have their own motives for the actions they undertake and enemies that are pretty unique to the series. The story is serviceable, but is not the main draw of this game. It'll continue the game and keep you invested in the characters, but the real draw of the game is the space combat and the world in which you'll be living.

Since this is a space game, the combat has to be top notch. Thankfully, it is. Within the opening minutes of the game, you'll pick a character and a ship to play with and then equip weapons on said ship. At first, this is a super complicated process because you really aren't sure which weapon to use, which direction to have it facing, and generally how to play. It may seem a little disconcerting at first, but you'll quickly see the game teaches you everything you need to know. The opening mission has you taking on some enemies in space and it's here where the game really shows you what it's capable of. Switching out weapons is a breeze and taking down ships while flying through the skies is endlessly fun. There were times when I had flashbacks to all my time spent playing Rogue Leader back in the day and any game that can elicit those memories gets the seal of approval from me.

The game also takes place on planets as well where your ship turns into a sort of hovercraft. You'll attack enemies just like you would in space, but you're on a flat surface instead of flying in space. It's a serviceable portion of the game, but I couldn't help but miss the space combat whenever I was on a planet.

One thing that sets this game apart from the other space combat games out there is the aforementioned weapons. The ships you'll be using are incredibly modular and picking and choosing your weapons almost becomes a game in and of itself. Enemies have weaknesses and finding which weapons work best becomes a game in and of itself. Do you go with a standard blaster type weapon on unload with a flame launcher? Make the wrong choice? Hope into the menu screen and switch something out. It's incredibly easy and helps keep the action fresh and new. If one weapon gets boring, switch it out and you'll have a new combat experience...just make sure it's not a weapon that doesn't work against your current enemy types.

I reviewed this game on the PS4, but the Nintendo Switch might be the version to get if you have it. Why is that? Well, because Starfox and his team is in the Switch version. I get why he's not in the others, since it is Nintendo's property, but it would have been cool to play as him. So, keep that in mind if you have a Switch, you might want to pick up that version.

Starlink: Battle for Atlas is a solid space shooter that excels when it let's you unload on enemy ships in space. The ground combat is perfectly serviceable, but the game truly shines when you're flying through the stars and traveling between planets. You wouldn't be remiss if you got vibes of No Man's Sky from some of the space exploration and your ability to go from space to a planet's surface in one transition. The toys to life aspect is available if you want to go that route, but it's by no means required since this is completely playable digitally. This holiday season, consider picking up Starlink if you're in the market for a solid space shooter with a decent sci-fi story.

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