|Genre: Adventure & RPG
|Min OS X: 10.5.8
Soldak does go to great lengths to provide a differentiated experience, and that can't be overlooked; equipment slots come in race-specific, heavy, medium and light categories, with a huge diversity of upgrades available for each - and you only get so many slots in each category. Enemy types are also highly diverse, with a wide range of attacks and debuffs, and the general flight model means that combat can be surprisingly tactical in its execution. Ship-to-ship combat quickly turns from being out-and-out slugfests into carefully choreographed ballets of death, as you try to outmaneuver your opponent, either to get behind them long enough for your weapons energy to recharge, or to use your nuclear space mines to lethal effect.
"...you're fighting doubt, elusive as I am."
As with any other Soldak game, there are lots and lots of other smaller features of Drox Operative that go a long way to add to the game's replayability. You can change the parameters of the sector before you dive into the fray, and even if things go completely belly up you're given the option of starting from scratch with a new sector. Special challenge sector options, plus the ability to adjust the starting level of enemies, means that you can ratchet up the difficulty if you feel that the taste of victory has grown stale in your space-encrusted mouth. But even on easier difficulty settings, battles are both challenging and satisfying. The game will have no reservations with throwing extremely challenging boss fleet battles at you, just when you think that you've managed to top every other faction in the game.
I would be remiss in not mentioning how this game performs – as with many of Soldak's other games, its system requirements are quite low, low enough that even a lowly 2006 2.0 Ghz Core Duo MacBook with a GMA 950 can run this game quite comfortably. The game is more CPU-dependent than GPU-dependent, a little more so in fact than Soldak's past releases, so pay attention to the game's CPU requirements; what surprised me most was that while the game did run on a 2010 11.6" MacBook Air (with a 1.4 Ghz Core 2 Duo) it was so slow that it was practically unplayable, even with all of the graphics options at their lowest settings.
In the end, there is no doubt that this is not just another solid Soldak game, but a very solid combat-centric space-based RPG. That being said, most of the typical reservations with Soldak's releases – lacklustre graphics, a less-than-friendly UI, and grind-heavy gameplay – do also apply to Drox Operative. These, however, can be overlooked in the light of the typical strengths found in Soldak's releases – addictive, engaging gameplay, immersive and dynamic gameworlds, challenging and satisfying combat, and incredibly replayability. Those qualities hold true just as strongly to this game as they do to its predecessors. While Drox Operative won't fulfill the hunger for a new EV game, it definitely goes a long way towards satisfying the need for a strong, immersive, space-based RPG experience.
- Extremely high replay value
- Adjustable difficulty and scenario options provide a varied gameplay experience
- Intense, satisfying combat
- Immersive and dynamic in-game universe
- Surprisingly deep and complex faction-based political and diplomatic system
- Enormous variety of loot and upgrades
- Unbelievably addictive
- Lacklustre ship models and graphics
- Gameplay lends itself to extremely excessive grind; may appear to be little more than "Din's Curse/Depths of Peril/Kivi's Underworld in space"
- Potentially unintuitive flight controls
- Political and diplomacy system bogged down in a potentially confusing and unintuitive UI
- Unbelievably Addictive