Geek Review: Sid Meier’s Starships

Foreword: Here at Geek Culture, we understand that not all gamers are the same. Some gamers are tall and enjoy building games like SimCity, while others are short-tempered and like to yell obscenities at other gamers on Xbox Live. Likewise, a review that makes sense to someone else might seem entirely illogical to you. 

To help tailor a review just for you, we consulted the most accurate method of determining someone’s personality: astrology! So this review of the PC version of Sid Meier’s Starships has been written with the help of renowned astro-Fengshui-logist Killian Foo, as an experiment to find a better bespoke reviewing style for the future.

Aries: According to the latest astrology charts, the sun will be rising in the East this week, so you will find your independent streak at its peak. This is ideal for a game like this, since it has no multiplayer component whatsoever. Act on your intuition and play with yourself… you might surprise yourself with how freeing it is when the entirely mouse-driven interface only requires one hand.

Taurus: As a generally patient person, you’ll be tempted to play through this game several times, hoping to find new depths and play styles. After all, the game allows you to choose from several leaders and factions with different gameplay bonuses.

The problem is, the gameplay bonuses don’t make much of a difference at all, and none of the leaders have any kind of discernible personality. You might find that your persistence won’t pay off, and indeed your patience will be sorely tested. Have some ginger tea ready to keep your chi centered during the third play through.

Gemini: This game will appeal to you for the same reasons that you’re much better at being friends with people on Facebook than in real life: it works better in short bursts. Perhaps it was meant to be a mobile game, but the repetitive nature of the game won’t hold up in an extended session in front of your PC. That said, it is probably great as a time-sink while commuting to work or sitting on the toilet. Even with the galaxy size set to epic, it still feels really small and games will whiz by.

Also, you will only ever have one fleet. You could build a ton of spaceships, but you won’t be able to split them up and they will always travel as one tight-knit group, like Virgos. This same restriction applies to AI players, so it makes turns go by a lot more quickly and it eliminates that waiting time in Civilization when you have to watch Greece move their 300 units one by one.

Low time commitment is the name of the game (no it’s not; it’s Sid Meier’s Starships – Ed).

Cancer: You’ll be expecting a call from a friend with interesting news, but sadly that won’t happen in this game. The diplomacy system is ridiculously basic, and the only things you can do when interacting with other leaders is to find out the stats of their planets (which they will always reveal for some strange reason), and to declare war/peace. You can’t trade resources, scientific research, or any of the things you’re used to doing in Civilization.

Nobody knows why the diplomacy system was put in at all, because the aim of the game is pretty much destroy your enemies and control 51% of the galaxy.

Leo: Leos are notoriously bad at reading and writing – after all, the last time you read anything in a videogame were the button cues during the QTE sequences in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare. You’re much happier exploiting unbalanced guns and bragging about your gaming skills to anybody who will listen on Xbox Live, so really this isn’t a game for you at all. The only button cue you need for this game is Alt-F4.

Virgo: A question will enter your head this week, that you will have no answer to: “If I only outfitted my ship with lasers, why do I shoot projectiles?”

Without any plot to tie the game together, or even a rewards system of perks and unlocks, you will probably develop an urge to play Star Control II instead.

Libra: As a diplomatic personality, you will probably try to shun the war-like play styles and try to win the game with a Cultural or Space Victory… except you can’t because they don’t exist. In fact, there is only one winning condition, and that is to control 51% of the galaxy. And what’s the only way to do that? War.

This sorely limits a game like this, because there is absolutely no reason to do anything except go into battle and chase out your opponents.

Scorpio: You like battle. You like planning complex strategies. The first few times you successfully beat battles where the computer listed your chances of success as less than 50%, you’ll feel great.

The battle gameplay will draw you in the first few times, and then you’ll realize that it’s a very simple system of hiding behind asteroids and trying to flank unintelligent opponents. There are options for deploying stealth mode to, but honestly you can just win battles really easily just by closing in on the bad guys and keeping asteroids between you and them until the last moment when you open fire.

Something cool are the torpedoes, which are slow moving projectiles that you can manually detonate when they get close enough to the bad guys. Just fire it in one direction, and it will keep moving that way turn after turn until you detonate it. It’s nice, but it doesn’t make up for the rest of the combat gameplay.

Sagittarius: Due to a lack of a proper tutorial sequence, you will enter your first game blind. You won’t know what the various resources are meant for, or what you’re supposed to do. A button will prompt you in the right direction, but you’re still mostly stumbling around in the dark.

You might like this because it appeals to your sense of adventure, and you might even romanticize it as finding out Luke Skywalker’s lineage for the first time. But the sad discovery is that there isn’t much to learn about this game. Build cities, research stuff… it’s not really engaging and it sometimes feels like Clash of Clans without the waiting time or micro-transactions.

Worst of all, you don’t really need to figure this stuff out to conquer the game.

Capricorn: It isn’t a particularly good week for you, so it is a good idea to feed your ego and ambition with an easy exploitable game like Sid Meier’s Starships. It might take a while to get used to the basic game-flow (especially with the lack of a decent tutorial system), but once you figure things out, the game is largely a repetitive cycle of researching new technologies (which directly affect your ships’ abilities in a straightforward manner), upgrading planets and getting scrappy in 2D space battles.

Every turn becomes predictable and mechanical, every battle is won by the same strategies, but that is actually what is good for you this week. Quick and easy wins will build up your confidence and help you pass the time until the bad energy gets flushed by the winds.

Aquarius: With the moon in orbit around the Earth, your creative instincts will be triggered and you will be inclined to spend extra time in the starship design portion of the game. Indeed, Starships allows you to customize your fleet of modular starships to fit different mission profiles. Stack up more armor and heavy plasma weapons, and you’ll have an assault battleship. Concentrate on long-range lasers and engines in another, and you’ll have a fast destroyer. Alternatively, you can fill it with fighter bays and declare “carrier has arrived” every time you enter battle.

Unfortunately, you’ll figure out before long that no matter how differently you configure your ships, they’ll all still look mostly the same. If you’re expecting to be able to replicate a Star Destroyer, or a Klingon Bird of Prey, you’ll be sadly disappointed because they’ll all just look like giant torch-lights with bits stuck to them.

Furthermore, you can’t even give them custom names or colors. Not only does that disappoint your creative instincts, but it also makes combat a bit more difficult since it’s hard to tell your destroyer from your cruiser.

Pisces: Late this week, you will feel like someone is eyeing you when you are weak. You might even feel locked inside a heart-shaped box for weeks. But in reality, you just shouldn’t shoot up so much heroin.



It had promise, but ultimately it’s a shallow game that won’t engage you for long.

  • Gameplay - 5/10
  • Story - 2/10
  • Presentation - 4/10
  • Value - 4/10
User Review
0 (0 votes)