Strategy games are often the brain trust of the gaming world, asking for slow-paced motions broken up by periods of intensely destructive activity, and resulting in missions that can last for hours. While they may not attract the widespread following that the genre has in comparison with other genres, the strategy genre still has a firm foothold in the gaming market as evidenced by the recent appearance of games like Universe at War: Earth Assault or the continuing popularity of the Command and Conquer, Warcraft, and Starcraft series. As with all gaming genres, though, it’s not only open to the big and the bright, but also the independent market as is the case with the game Galactic Dream: Rage of War which has been developed by the relatively unknown firm Evolution Vault and published by the equally unknown Strategy First.
"Independent game" does not automatically equate to "bad game," as many companies without the resources of much more well-known gaming companies have created great games that become quite well-known and, more importantly, quite fun to play. However, I regret to say that, by and large, Galactic Dream is not one of those games. It has the elements of what could be a fun game, but they weren’t brought to the level they could have been, and so Galactic Dream ends up being merely a faint shadow on the real-time strategy genre.
Why is it that I choose to describe the failure of this game in this overly sentimental way? The game seems to suffer from a lack of direction. The official explanation of the story found on the game’s official site describes it as “the ultimate strategy game in space” which takes place in a 24th century that sees humanity taking its first steps towards establishing itself in space. In addition, humanity is attempting to escape from the Second Big Bang while being pursued by an unknown and yet extremely powerful alien race. The search for a new home, a peaceful existence free of war; that is what the game seems to be about, but at no time playing the game did I have an inkling of any of these weighty matters were going on. This is one of the game’s major failing points, as even a brief indication of the plot is needed to draw the player into the game. Otherwise it will instill a feeling of aimlessness into even the most technically sophisticated game.
The single player mode game begins with three training missions that work to teach you about movement, camera controls, building types, and resource management, which is pretty basic for all RTS games. These missions are rather simplistic in their form and objectives — learning how to build units, move them, attack targets, etc. — and can be accomplished within a matter of minutes. After that, though, the difficulty level takes a sharp upswing.
The nonvocal typed dialog between the characters is very well done, but this quality of speech doesn’t make up for the game’s other faults. The game is isn’t entirely nonverbal, however, as both music and verbal unit commands have been worked into the game, but these too suffer from problems. All units have the same artificial sounding voice behind them, which often take the form of philosophical statements such as “I want to live forever, but only for a little while,” or, “We forgot about peace." These deep phrases, however, can often be overwhelmed by the in-game music so one often seems to cancel the other out.
There are good points about it. The game backgrounds look good, albeit rather static, with a photo realistic look to them that is favorable to the eye. The game’s units also look good, even if they lack the technical flash that other games in the genre bestow upon their in-game units. The controls have been arranged so that both players who are unfamiliar with the genre and those experienced with it will take to it with little difficulty, and the in-game camera is also fully 3D, allowing players to view the situation from any angle.
In the end, however, I can’t really recommend this game to fans of the RTS genre because, even though the game costs only 20 bucks, there’s little about it that makes the game worth paying money for. I see a lot of potential in the game; had it been done right, it could have been enjoyable, but the bad planning of the game sharply reduces the fun potential. I’d only recommend this game to the most rabid RTS fan or to those who just want an inexpensive example of the genre to play around with, but there are better reasonably priced examples of the RTS genre out there for first time players to try out.