We know more about outer space than we do about the seas of planet Earth. Probably because we've spent so much imaginary time in space, shooting aliens, looting space chests, and fanatically following the basic tropes of MMO gaming.
At least we have if we've played Star Legends: The Blackstar Chronicles, the latest attempt at a mobile MMO from Spacetime Studios, the people behind the distinctly average Pocket Legends.
If you were feeling churlish, you might describe Star Legends: The Blackstar Chronicles as a simple re-skinning of its stablemate. I mean, it's principally the same game dressed up in sci-fi armour instead of fantasy robes. As you can tell, I'm feeling churlish.
The wizard's new rocket launcher
You start the game by choosing your class. You can be a heavy weapon-toting Commando, a sneaky, up-close damage-dealing Operative, or an enemy-controlling Engineer. Space ranger, space rogue, or space wizard, basically.
As soon as you've decided on your class, you're given the option to spend some real-life money getting a boost up the levels, so that you may enter the game as a bit of a badass rather than a squishy first timer. Whether you choose to spend the money or not, you're then thrown into an intergalactic, corridor-based conflict.
Your first task is carried out via a tutorial that walks you through the basic controls and mechanics of the game. You wander through a hijacked ship, killing mercenaries and being told what to do by the MMO equivalent of the Microsoft Office paper clip.
Star grinding, across the universe
Once you've graduated from space school, it's off to the game proper, where you'll wander around some more corridors killing and looting, joined by lots of other people who look a lot like you.
Most of the quests you collect involve killing a set amount of creatures or amassing a set amount of item drops. You grind your way through identikit light grey levels, never really engaging with the action, because you never feel like you're truly part of it.
Combat entails little more than a few taps on the screen and some sitting back to see if your weapon's powerful enough to kill the bad guys before they kill you.
Playing with other people ups the entertainment levels, as you'd expect, but you still feel far too removed and disconnected from everything that's going on.
In corridors, no one can hear you grind
Star Legends: The Blackstar Chronicles manages to embody everything that's wrong with MMO gaming: labyrinthine menus, unimaginative design, and a focus on grinding your way to the top levels.
Foremost among its crimes, though, is the way it spectacularly fails to make you feel like a legend. In truth, you're just another cog in the never-ending machine, tapping at your screen alongside all the rest in the vain hope that maybe, just maybe, the next level might be different.
Spacetime Studios hasn't learnt from the mistakes it made with Pocket Legends, instead constructing a game that offers more of the same.
There are brief moments of fun to be had, but more often than not, you feel like you're doing a job. Repeating the same menial tasks, over and over, and waiting for the clocking off bell to ring isn't my idea of fun.
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