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Publisher: Aspyr Media    Genre: Simulation
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G4 @ 733 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Hard Disk: 1000 MB    4x CD-ROM

Space Colony
December 23, 2004 | Dustin Smith

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One of the best selling games right now basically digitizes what we all do almost everyday of our life. Wake up, go to work or school, come home, get a drink, talk with some friends, maybe go out, and then go to bed to wake up to yet another riveting day, sarcastically speaking of course. Now why are most gamers so fascinated with playing god to tiny people in a computer game? I donít know. But I agree with most of them, itís damn fun. Now, letís put your little alter-lives in outer space on different imaginary planets, throw a heaping helping of personality in the mix, assign our little space people to tasks for them to accomplish and let them go at it. Space Colony, by Firefly Studios, Gathering, and expertly ported to the Mac by Aspyr, is far from a clone of one of the best selling simulation games, but a genuinely unique, not to mention exceedingly polished and well-done simulation/strategy that should not be tossed aside, eventually to be a forgotten title in a retailerís bargain bin some day.

To Each Their Own
Comparatively speaking, I would have to say that the graphics are much better than the original Sims. They are colorful, entertaining, and not to mention, the animations are very smooth. There are a total of 20 colonists, each with completely different looks, and personalities. Even the way each one walks is very unique. Babette, the snotty 19-year-old from France, walks just like you would expect someone like her to walk, like she has something up her butt. The colonistsí posture is also very entertaining. Slim, the 15 year old Slim Shady wanna-be who sports a black hooded sweatshirt and cargo pants, always has his hands in his hooded sweatshirtís front pockets and slightly tipped backward, if he isnít roaming the bio-domes on his magical skateboard. Donít worry; youíll understand what I mean, just go download the demo.

The only time you see some kind of similarity between the colonists is when they have to walk on the planetís surface. Then theyĎre all wearing space suits. But thatís it. You can immediately tell that a lot of thought and detail was put into each colonistís animation for the purpose of exuding personality and attitude. Still not impressed? How about I told you that each colonist has a different dance, well except for the best friends from Japan. Put them on the disco floor and have them bust some moves. Itís fun to watch Billy Bob hoe down while Slim does some break dancing right next to him. Another small, but great, detail about the graphics is that when you assign someone a bed the sheets on their bed are personalized. The heroine of story mode, Venus, has plain blue sheets. But when you assign Stig, the 36-year-old Norwegian biker, a bed his sheets become black sporting a white skull and crossbones. There is a flannel quilt for Billy Bob; pink sheets for Candi, and so on filling out each one of the 20 colonists tiny lives just a little bit more. So if you are tired of creating Sims that that just look different, then take a gander here at the variety of colonists in this game.

The buildings and items in the game have a plethora of detail and animations packed into them as well. For a tiny example, when someone starts working on the power generator all of the solar power collectors open up, which is a sight to see if you have about 12 of them compacted together. Then as soon as that person finishes their shift they fold back up and retract. The combat arena is also a joy to watch as the hologram and the opponent bob and weave to each otherís punches.

And I havenít even started talking about the 32 different alien species and all of their little quirky movements and graphics. From the furry space rodents, whose job is to hop aimlessly around on one leg and spread disease, to the lumbering Orox, everything in the game is very different, unique, and a refreshing change of pace from the other life simulators.

The features that I missed though were the zoom and rotate buttons. It would have been extremely nice, and exceedingly helpful, if there was the ability to rotate around your objects for more precision placement of your objects and to view your colony, as well as the planet from all sorts of different angles. A big reason for this gripe was because often times you are placing a small item behind a larger one and all the graphics do to help is make the bigger object a bit transparent. A little more precision and accuracy abilities would have been nice for that little perfectionist in all of us. Also I sorely missed the zoom feature as well. I wanted to either go in to view my colonists in more detail while they were talking to each other or zoom out to view the planet in all of itís glory. A trivial point but one I feel that would have given the game a bit more pizzazz.

Another trivial thing I found a little interesting was that there were only three different tile sets for the planet surfaces. A gray moon-like surface, the stereotypical red mars-like surface, and a lush green vegetation engulfed surface. The inclusion of another planet surface would have been welcomed, such as maybe the surface of an ice-planet.


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