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I was pointed in the direction of Strafighter Inc. at PAX East this year at the suggestion of Chris Reid, and I’m glad that I listened to him.

Impeller Studios have created an incredibly dense combination of arena shooter and flight simulator, all built on the back of hard science. Starfighter Inc. is the kind of game that certain people are absolutely going to devour, relishing in the harsh realities of space combat without shield or pseudo-science.

 

 

Starfighter Inc. puts you in the cockpit of the future in a hard science-fiction based multiplayer space combat simulator for Windows PC, featuring hardcore shooter gameplay in the spirit of X-Wing vs. TIE-Fighter, but with unprecedented depth and sophistication. Starfighter Inc. combines the lethality and permadeath of Counter-Strike with the technical depth and customization of World of Warships. The key difference is that players operate a variety of nuclear-powered single and multi-crew fighters, reconnaissance ships, strike craft, and support ships, with weapons ranging from lasers, railguns, and missiles, to electronic and cyber warfare capabilities.

I had the chance to try my hand at some space combat in Starfighter Inc. and it’s vastly different than any other space combat game I have ever played. Heck, it was obvious it’d be different before I even got in to the Shrike class fighter I was set to pilot into 1 V 1 combat.

Moving in zero gravity through the hanger took a little bit of getting used to, as it wasn’t simply bounding about with big leaps and bounds. No, every movement had an equal and opposite reaction and without gravity to provide a point of reference things got turned around pretty quickly.

 

 

This only got worse when I actually got into the sleek Shrike, but that’s also when things started feeling really good. This felt like a real ship, not some facsimile of a space ship for a game. Indeed, there was a weight in it’s weightlessness, and having to make small adjustments to my movement, rather than dramatic thrusts, meant I had to think differently about things. In squaring off against my opponent, I was absolutely wrecked on my first go, still getting used to the controls and mechanics of flying in space.

On my second attempt, I felt like I had more control of things, switching between my pulse laser, my rail gun and even firing off a tactical nuke. My turns were tighter and less wild, my motions more deliberate. And still, I was shown up, and yet being even more impressed.

The developer playing against me ended up showing me what he did to avoid my barrage: When I opened up on his ship with my lasers, he simply turned his ship to offer a very slight profile, meaning the majority of my shots whizzed by him. He then coasted towards me, flying right over top of me and opening up with his own rail gun in close quarters, decimating my ship.

 

 

Starfighter Inc.‘s dedication to getting the science of space flight and space combat right is amazing. Sure, it means you have to unlearn some things you know for other flight and combat games, but the result is worth it.

Impeller Studios has a  $150,000 goal, of which they have raised $56,225 with 24 days remaining (at time of publication) before the April 15th deadline. If you’d like to learn more about the project, or pledge, head over to the Kickstarter Page.

 

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