Gemini Wars is a RTS set in space, putting you at the helm of controlling some rather impressive battleships along with building your infrastructure across a whole solar system. It has been created by Camel 101 an independent game company who have created a whole variety of games spanning many genres prior with Gemini Wars seeming to be their most ambitious project to date.
On its official release back in June it only had the singleplayer campaign available to play but since then it has included a skirmish mode that is actually a lot of fun. I found that the skirmish mode began to give me a better appreciation for the gameplay overall after being a little disappointed in the campaign.
The campaign is interesting, it is rather long and feels much longer with the fact that all the ships move like they are gliding through treacle. All the ships move on “impulse” whilst navigating around the orbits of planetary bodies, which does not sound too bad until you begin to try and move any ship and realise that they are actually far too slow. Forget about trying to micro units in battle once they are fighting there is very little you can do to influence the outcome of the battle you just sit back and maybe warp in a few more ships.
I found the ship AI I to be very hard to get to grips with, I would try and move ships around and create formations but they would often fail to listen to the commands and would just line up in very useless manners, making some engagements far more difficult than they needed to be. Also whenever your ships warp between planets and zones on the map the ships seemed to want to rearrange into just a few lines, not very helpfully when warping into warzones. I would’ve liked to of seen some formation management with your armada as this would make the combat much better.
Overall the campaign is not too bad, it has some nice voice acting and a lot of CGI videos of the main characters. However a lot of the audio did not seem to sync up to the videos for me, I am uncertain if it was just a problem I had but it was a little distracting sometimes. The campaign length is indeed rather long, with every level taking a very long time to complete a lot of the time it feels like you are investing far too much time to finish the levels.
What I found surprising was after being a little disheartened about the game from the campaign side, I found that the skirmish is actually a lot of fun. In the skirmish mode you can actually start to see a lot of the elements given to you in the campaign start to come together and it creates a very grand feel overall. Yes the ships are ridiculously slow, still it feels like it adds to the theater of the game by creating grand scaled lengthy battles.
Where length was a little bit of a weakness for me in the campaign as when levels take around an hour to finish it feels like the campaign levels drag on. The length of the skirmish mode I felt really gave this game a true sense of what Camel 101 where trying to accomplish. As you go around capturing planets and asteroids to fund your war machine. The skirmish got my appetite wet for a full multiplayer system which sadly Gemini Wars does not have, at least at time of writing.
The gameplay overall is largely enjoyable, the creation of quite a variety of ships is nice, even if two of the sides have the same ships. The full tech tree showcases a whole range of ships from the tiny brawlers to the massive planet destroyers this game has quite the ship selection.
The highly linear nature of the tech trees is a little disappointing and I feel this over simplification detracts from some of the strategy, maybe a branched tree system would of fit the bill better. It is functional but does not add as much as it could do.
The construction is very limited to just a handful of basic buildings, which is fine but considering how in Gemini Wars you do just spend a lot of time waiting for things to be built or ships to actually move into position, there are long spells of nothingness.
Graphically Gemini Wars does look very appealing, sure the CGI videos look rather old school but I consider that endearing and reminds me of the classics of the nineties. Though the ingame effects look quite nice and the backdrops are very nicely put together, there is some graphical glitches such as shield systems being skewed but overall the visuals are not bad. It also looks very nice when you go into the cinematic mode whilst your ships are battling, although the random camera panning could also do with a little bit more work.
The audio is not bad generally, in the campaign the conversations can get a little bit annoying but the voices have had a lot of work done on them making them sound good overall. The music is very nice moving from ambient to battle when enemy ships enter your areas or you move into battle. That said the battle music sometimes starts up annoyingly when construction ships fly past your mining bases and I feel this is very unnecessary.
Gemini Wars feels to me to have a lot of potential, but is very much a work in progress. A lot of great ideas and ship designs have been put into the game and the Alien race is actually a whole lot of fun and very diverse. I feel that if there was an option to set game speed to a much higher level, allowing ships to navigate around quicker it would make Gemini Wars much more of a pick up and play title. As it stands I could see myself picking up Gemini Wars to play a skirmish game every now and then, but totally foregoing the campaign as that felt far too long and arduous to get through.
Gemini Wars did suffer from being released at the same time as Sins of a Solar Empire and from what I understand the latter was a more complete experience, not that I have played it however. I think if Camel 101 where to add a full online multiplayer and increase the movement of ships then this game would become much more of a pickup game.
I understand many people will like the slower more methodical pace, as I personally prefer fast paced RTS games such as Starcraft, which sadly made Gemini wars feel like nothing was actually happening. Although grand in its scope, Gemini Wars is slow in the gameplay.
If you have played many space RTS games and enjoy playing one on a grand scale, with everything adding quite a lot to the theater of the space combat Gemini Wars may be the type of game for you. However If you prefer a much more faster paced game Gemini Wars will no doubt be far too slow for you to really get into and appreciate. For this reason I feel as it stands Gemini Wars only appeals to a very niche group of people, but with more development from Camel 101 it could end up being a very fun title.