9
Our overall verdict "gold"

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Disclaimer – I openly admit that I haven’t played a space trading game before; therefore this review will not contain any references to the following: Freelancer, Homeworld, Frontier or the grandfather of them all, the original Elite.

Trading Places

Space, the final frontier- nope can’t use that! A long time ago in a galaxy…. hmm probably best to leave that one alone as well. Bugger, it seems like all the great space intros have already been taken. What about “Hey, your aunt is missing, take her ship and go find her!” That’s exactly how Double Damage Games’ epic space simulator Rebel Galaxy begins.

It turns out that dear old Aunt Juno, who remembers to put PSN credit in your birthday cards every year, isn’t as squeaky clean as you may think. She likes to dabble in a bit of smuggling now and then to top up her pension fund, but she’s not been seen for a while. What has she gotten herself into? You take her spaceship and head to her last known location. Here you will find one of her associates who will set you on a path of adventure, exploration, space combat and a large dose of trading for good measure.

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From then on it’s up to you to decide what you want to do. Do you want to go find Juno or go exploring? That’s what is great about Rebel Galaxy – its openness. It tells you there is a main story but doesn’t force you to play it until you want to. It doesn’t throw you in at the deep end; it allows you to ease yourself in slowly and play your own way. Do you want to be a cunning pirate forcing passing traders to hand over their goods immediately after you’ve just sold them, go on then. How about a scoundrel with a heart of gold who deals in illegal live organs but will answer any distress call, why not! Or even a cold-hearted mercenary who sees himself as Dog the Bounty Hunter’s cousin Wolf the Space Bounty Hunter. You can be any of those or even all of those at the same time.

So long, and thanks for all the fish

Instead of delving into too much detail of Rebel Galaxy’s main story or what to do and where to go I’ll provide you with one or two helpful tips that you might find in a certain hitchhikers guide. Tip number one – Not everyone is from the North! There are some unfriendly and dangerous areas in space. Think Weston Super Mare after 6pm, where it’s better to avoid or hire a mercenary to accompany you. Tip number two – Fly causal. If you choose to deal in the illegal items the mighty militia will stop you at some point. You can offer to bride them, try to run (chances are you’ll be blasted into oblivion) or surrender the items.

Navigating the vastness of space is easy as it is set on a two dimensional plane. This means you won’t end up lost in space when you go exploring but if you do you can hit triangle to bring up a radial menu, and selecting Map will get you back on track. This radial is also used to hail other ships, cancel waypoints, set a waypoint to the closest mission and perform a Pulse Scan. This Pulse Scan will identify nearby enemies, traders and raw materials. It even shows you which asteroids to mine for resources. By pressing the touch pad when close to other vessels you can also perform a detailed scan which will highlight any cargo the vessels may be carrying should you be feeling a bit piratey.

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High-ho silver mining

Of course you will want to upgrade your ship and its weaponry, beef up those defences so you don’t get owned when you jump to other systems. To do so you’ll need credits. Like Jim Carrey famously said you “can’t make the scene if you don’t have the green”. There are plenty of ways to earn credits in Rebel Galaxy. The main ways are trading, completing missions or mining. With trading you need to buy low and sell high. With a bit of planning you can usually pair some space stations that have different demands so you can turn a healthy profit with each journey.

You can go to any of the many space bars to check out the Mission Boards. Here you will find a plethora of missions such as helping the militia clear out some pirates to been a rogue trader delivering black market goods. Finally, there is mining. Mining can be quite a lucrative business if you know what to look for. I found the best way to mine was to zoom out of the map then check out the undiscovered nebulas (the colourful clouds), then you can zoom in and see if they contain any asteroids. If they do, then set a waypoint and off you go. Hopefully you might hit the jackpot and score big by mining the Face of Goza. All sector and system layouts as well as the system names randomly generated so don’t think once you’ve struck gold in one game, you can navigate to the same spot in another game to do the same. Each game will offer something new.

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It is hard to put into words how visually stunning every aspect of Rebel Galaxy is. From the “in your face” broadside battles (set out like the naval battles in Assassin’s Creed Black Flag) to viewing the entire map like some kind of omnipresent being – it all looks so sharp. Complimenting the visuals is a fantastic soundtrack full of twanging guitar tracks and Spaghetti Blues songs that make you feel like a real space cowboy.

Rebel Galaxy comes with a trophy list that is a mixture of completing the main game, defeating various enemies, joining different factions and increasing your net worth. The main story will take you about twenty hours, but increasing your net worth to 50 million and killing 20 Pirate Lords will take the longest to achieve. Once you have these, though, you will be handsomely rewarded with a Platinum trophy worth its weight in Progenitor Shards!

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Conclusion

When I started playing Rebel Galaxy I was definitely heading into the unknown with a genre I’d had little experience of. To Double Damage Games’ credit they have made a game that is so accessible regardless of prior experience. Newcomers will enjoy how it eases you in, letting you play your own way at your own pace. (I probably spent close to fifteen hours just mining, answering distress calls and exploring different systems before I’d even completed a handful of missions.) Those more familiar with the genre will delve deep into Rebel Galaxy’s complex trading and quickly find a way to turn a profit on every last nut and bolt. Rebel Galaxy welcomed this newcomer with open arms; everything works as one to create something truly great.

NelMaNo Rating – 9/10

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Neil Nottingham is a family man and a long time gamer. He’s a typical Yorkshire man who won’t judge a game until he has given it a fair crack of the whip(pet). Follow him on twitter @NelMaNo