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Darkstar One was written by the German story teller Claudia Kern, she wrote episodes in season 8 of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and six popular books, and was recruited to lend her prose to Darkstar One. The developer Ascaron Entertainment is best known for "Sacred' and "Sacred Underworld", but both games failed to meet the expectations of gamers and the developers, and only have a mild following. In Darkstar One, Ascaron is attempting to travel beyond the areas of interactive space and entertainment that Freelancer reached and into a new region of video entertainment.
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The best parts
Darkstar One includes a very useful and engaging economic system that's still simple and straightforward to implement and has a shallow learning curve that makes Darkstar One pick up and play easy.
Darkstar One has a nice variety of different types of missions to undertake as you play, from the lone-wolf bounty hunter on the trail of prey, to the cut-throat pirate willing to do whatever is necessary to achieve his goals, but you get to decide how to play.
I loved the pace of game play in Darkstar One that picks up speed as you play and keeps the adrenalin flowing as you work your way through the game.
Great variety in ability to upgrade ship using the large variety of available weapons and ship equipment to modify the look and effectiveness of your ship while you're playing the game.
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Parts that could be improved
The mouse controls are over-sensitive and there was no way to dial down the sensitivity to a workable level, which made moving around a little awkward at times. Using a gamepad or Joystick arrangement it was much easier to control the movements than with the mouse and keyboard.
Elements in the game are too often repeated, the same screens were used far too often, it becomes monotonous to see the same aliens hanging around the same dull-looking space port at every stop; I kept thinking I had come back to the same system.
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The graphical look
Darkstar One's visual presentation looks a little old beside many of the new games, but it has a free-flowing look, with nice looking details and enough texture to get the attention of the eye. The alien vistas and postcard-like panoramas take your breath away as you fly from system to system in the wonderfully conceived Darkstar One.
The shield and weapon effects have nice particle effects and visual textures in the explosions of the weapons effects as you fight for your life.
The cut scenes included in Darkstar One animate nicely, move freely as they interact, which makes it easier to get in the part you're playing; scoundrel or hero, which shall it be today?
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Sounds in the game
Darkstar One has a very monotonous music score which needs energy to keep up the energy level during some areas of the game play, flying around can occasionally drag and good tunes would definitely help. They did make use of the sound track to give you audible clues to events about to occur, like pirates about to attack or danger.
Hearing the same dialogue being voiced over and over definitely takes you out of the moment at times. How hard is it to write a few more lines of easy-speaking dialogue?
The developers did make good use of nice sound effects, you'll hear the Darkstar One take off, the sound of weapon blasts exploding in space, and the energy effects of special weapons.
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The story line
In the main game you play as man of mystery Kayron Jarvis as he searches for his father's murderer in a vast and deadly universe populated by alien races only too willing to send him to the next world. You travel around undertaking missions and assignments as you continue your search for vengeance against your father's killer. You can choose to follow the career path of one of six professions; trader, mercenary, bounty hunter, assassin, pirate and smuggler of fine and rare goods. Escorting cargo ships, checking on illegal activity, carrying out assassinations, locating hidden star systems, and even uncovering corporate corruption.
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Getting back to the simple economics of buying low and selling high was enjoyable compared to many other more complicated systems of economics and helped make the pace of Darkstar One fun.
The variety in all aspects of game play gives Darkstar One pretty good playability, you can try each of the career paths, and all of the difficulty settings. It took me over thirty hours to play through the game, but I tried playing the game in all the career paths, and took my time to make sure I got the full experience.
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The bottom line
Darkstar One isn't as polished as many titles, but is a game I would recommend as a good on-the-seat-of-your-pants adventure in a space-frontier style that will keep you entertained with many hours of engaging and enjoyable game play. A decent story line, unique upgradeable ship, and blast em fun that is a breath of fresh air, Darkstar One gets the thumbs up as a ship that, while it looks a little old compared to some, definitely puts the space exploring fun back in gaming.