Gemini Wars is a real-time strategy game available for PC and Mac through Steam. The game was developed by Camel101 and published by Iceberg Interactive. Gemini Wars has you play the role of a fleet commander recently returned from exile as your rise through the ranks of the United Space Federation. You are thrown into an epic battle throughout space between the United Space Federation, the Alliance of Free Worlds, and an unknown third force. The official Steam link to purchase Gemini Wars can be found in the links located a little further down in this article.
GAME NAME: Gemini Wars
PUBLISHER(S): Iceberg Interactive
PLATFORM(S): PC, Mac
RELEASE DATE(S): June 8, 2012
We would like to thank Reverb Communications for the opportunity to review Gemini Wars.
Gemini Wars takes place decades after the start of the bloody conflict between the United Space Federation and the Alliance of Free Worlds. You play as a fleet commander recently returned from exile who assumes command of a small group of frigates when an unknown third force aims to alter the balance of power. As you climb through the ranks you can command additional units such as battleships, carriers, and planetary bases. To better your fleet you can research upgrades, extract minerals, build space stations, create orbital facilities, and colonize planets.
The first thing I did before playing was test out the basic and advanced tutorials. These tutorials are brief but informative. The basic tutorial primarily focused on camera and ship movements while the advanced tutorial explained colonization and stargates. The only issue was with the basic tutorial. For whatever reason it would not progress after a certain step. MEL, the tutorial AI, instructs you to move to the designated area, but there is no area marked off. I restarted the tutorial 5 times before eventually giving up.
The campaign itself has mini-tutorials along the way. Whenever something is introduced, the game briefly explains how it functions, such as orbital bases, mining facilities, tactics, and unit construction. These mini-tutorials are much less thorough, but the things left out are easy enough to figure out on your own as you go.
The gameplay is pretty straight forward. You control a fleet at war with 2 other forces. You simply command this fleet by clicking orders as you would in most any other RTS. The tactics are even easier. You are limited to attack, range attack, and defend. There are no other combat options aside from your standard move and stop. This model has worked in countless other titles, so there is really no need to reinvent the wheel.
The game is not entirely about combat, however. You must also maintain bases throughout the maps that provide certain strategic benefits. A military base and shipyard allows for additional ships to be created, research facilities allow you to unlock additional benefits, mining stations slowly gather crystals (currency), and colonies provide a steady source of civilians and marines. My only complaint with this system was that each designated area could only hold one facility. You could only have 1 mining station per asteroid cluster or 1 military base per planetary orbit. This caused problems with defenses as you must now spread your base all over a map instead of having a smaller, heavily fortified base.
Initially the campaign was simple, yet enjoyable. Many of the game’s features are locked, but you still had access to frigates, light turrets, mining stations, and military bases. The first couple missions were a breeze, but the third level proved nearly impossible even on easy. The game is incredibly challenging. I found myself getting extremely frustrated with the game, and it got to the point where I couldn’t stop playing the game. I wanted to beat the campaign just to spite the game. After several hours I finally managed to handle those Alliance ships and continue on with mission 4.
Overall the campaign was very enjoyable and frustrating. The game posed great challenges throughout which was a welcomed change of pace. Most games in today’s market lack challenging campaigns, and because of this they typically provide short play times. Gemini Wars‘ campaign is certainly worth playing, especially if you love a challenge.
The multiplayer allows you to choose from 8 maps with predetermined numbers of planets and asteroids. This mode is your standard deathmatch mode against humans from around the world. The only issue with this is unless you have friends with the game, you may be unable to find a match when you’d like.
Skirmish is your standard deathmatch mode against computers, much like the multiplayer, with up 20 planets, 90 asteroids, and 60,000 crystals available. You can choose each specific amount prior to beginning the match. The game pits you against 1 single computer in a battle to the end. This battle was very enjoyable as it essentially begins as a race to claim as much land as possible before your opponent can. Once you claim your required land you must think where to properly place defensive units. This is typically judged by enemy location and hyper space jump distance. There is usually one highly contested point somewhere in each map.
Skirmish mode was rather enjoyable, but there were several times I found myself unable to build. The unit would begin production but stop before completion. The same thing happened to buildings occasionally which left me without units or defense turrets as you can only produce one thing at a time. This glitch was not consistent as I played the mode several times, and it only happened a few times with no fix available. The glitch was still very concerning however.
In regards to graphics, Gemini Wars deserves a mixed score. It is extremely hard to grade such a large scale RTS on graphics as they don’t usually provide high quality graphics. but Gemini Wars managed to deliver in various ways. When zoomed out completely the game was not all the impressive, understandably. The background is nice, but everything else becomes blue or red dots. This is expected, but when you zoom in the ships, buildings, and asteroids are very well done. The lighting from the sun and shadows cast by various objects are definitely a welcomed touch. Overall the graphics were good but could use some improving in regards to combat as there wasn’t much variance between the different weapons.
The various cutscenes throughout the game were also very enjoyable, and I hardly ever felt the urge to skip them like in some other titles. They certainly put a ton of work into these brief scenes as the quality was very noticeable and pretty much the same quality you can expect from some AAA titles.
Overall the soundtrack is very fitting to the game, and the sound effects match very well for each action. The only problem I had with the soundtrack is there really isn’t anything that separates it from most other space games. This does not mean the soundtrack is bad. It just merely means it maintained the status quo.
The voice acting throughout the game varied greatly depending on who was part of each mission. Most of the voice actors are great and fit their roles accordingly. The only issue I had with voice acting was that so many of the voices were very raspy that it began to be repetitive and annoying. Although, as a hardened space officer, the raspy voice may be expected after years of combat.
Down To The Nitty Gritty
Overall, I’d say Gemini Wars is worth trying out if you are a fan of RTS games. While this game does not reinvent the wheel it provides another option to those who enjoy the genre. The game originally had released without Skirmish and Multiplayer so many reviews you see today reflect an earlier release. With these two modes added the game feels complete but unpolished. Luckily, the developers are eagerly supporting this title, so I would expect future updates for this game.
The graphics during gameplay are what you expect but the cutscenes are extremely well done. The soundtrack provides exactly what you would expect from a sci-fi RTS. It aids to the experience but can go unnoticed when in a firefight. Finally, gameplay despite needing a bit of polishing, was still very enjoyable and frustrating as well. There were times that I found myself replaying a mission over and over again just to spite the game. It is a bit pricey at $19.99, so it might be best to purchase the 2 pack for $29.99 if you have a friend interested, or wait until it goes on sale.