|Genre: Adventure & RPG
|Min OS X: 10.5.8
In contrast, Drox Operative does almost the exact opposite in its presentation: there are no story missions. No story missions means that, like with fundamentally any open world game, the player is left to construct the game's narrative, and being mindful of this, the game leaves many, many options open to aspiring Operatives. Pick your favorite among the six factions occupying your sector, or eschew the galactic politicking and do whatever missions from whatever factions strike your fancy. You can support your favorite faction subtly, by not intervening when a massive fleet decides to crash the opposition's party in a particular system, or you can just go in and attack enemy planets yourself. Or you could of course destroy the oncoming maurauders as they bear down on the planet, reaping both the XP bonus from killing them and the reputation bonus from saving their planet from destruction, and then destroy them outright. Freedom is such a beautiful thing, isn't it?
"Prepare to drink vaccum, fool."
Hand-in-hand with this is that everything changes... whether you want it to or not. Planetary outposts can be destroyed during fleet actions; you may try to flee to a planet for supplies and repairs - usually with an angry fleet of marauding pirates relentlessly chasing you - only to realize it's been destroyed by either a hostile alien faction or a nefarious pirate leader. Let disease outbreaks or civil unrest linger too long and it may escalate or even spread to other planets, weakening the faction you've chosen to support. If you take too long to take action against rising pirate leaders or rival factions, entire star systems may be left barren, leaving you with no recourse if you find yourself alone, with nowhere to run, and with seemingly half a galaxy's worth of ships all bearing down on you.
In times of war, a stream of messages pouring into your notifications gives you almost a CNN-like level of coverage of the ebbing and flowing of war as it is fought militarily and politically, reporting events which you actually can influence. Did that thoughtless Human diplomat accidentally insult the Drayds? Go to one of their planets and plant a positive rumour about how humans are really all about sunshine, rainbows and lollipops. Or plant a negative one and watch the sparks fly. Those stupid Humans probably had it coming anyway. Even during peacetime, planetary disasters, epidemics, and civil unrest break out with alarming regularity, as do pirate attacks and distress calls from stranded ships. And if you're feeling bored, engage in a little planetary sabotage, plant some juicy false rumors, and revel in being a true intergalactic bastard. Trololol.
This brings us to the diplomacy system, which is surprisingly deep. A given sector may have as many as six separate alien factions duking it out, and inevitably you'll be placed in the position of juggling diplomatic relations among all of them as more planets and ships open up to you. Be careful of the factions with whom you decide to form mutual military protection pacts, as you may get drawn into a war which you may not be prepared to fight. Mending diplomatic fences may take more than just gentle reassurances and flattering comments about their wardrobe; establishing even a mutual non-aggression pact will likely come with a request for a hefty "administrative fee". At other times, you'll likely have to balance out the value of allying yourself with the most powerful faction, with the price of breaking the past agreements that you've worked hard to cultivate with their rivals.