Review: Star Sonata 2 – A Space Sim MMORPG

Star Sonata 2 screenshot - UI-shot
Review: Star Sonata 2 – A Space Sim MMORPG

Platforms: Windows PC

Game Name: Star Sonata 2

Developer: Landauer Games

Genre: Shooter, MMORPG

Developer Summary

The original Star Sonata launched in late 2004, and has enjoyed continuously increasing popularity for seven years. Current players particularly enjoy the mixture of action and RPG elements along with the persistent sandbox nature of all the bases, colonies, and trading ships that players can control. It is like a hybrid of Asteroids, World of Warcraft, and Sim City. The small development team is very active with the community and has been developing Star Sonata 2 for 4 years.

Star Sonata 2 improves upon the original with 3D graphics, a greatly improved user interface, RTS-like controls for your ships, drones, and bases, inter-dimensional invasions that the players must cooperatively fight, expanded tech levels, and an amazing new musical score. It transforms the retro-style of Star Sonata 1 into a polished, modern MMORPG.

Star Sonata 2 screenshot - UI-shot
A screenshot of the redesigned UI from indie space MMORPG “Star Sonata 2”

Star Sonata 2 – What We Think:

Star Sonata 2 (SS2) is Free-to-Play gaming as it should be – an open and inviting universe that you’re free to explore. A universe where you can climb to great heights without paying a dime. Are there a few extra places and things to do that you can only get by paying? Sure, but there’s so much to do without it that you probably won’t find it necessary. It feels more like that payment is a thank you to the developers, rather than a fee grudgingly handed over so that the game will stop being frustrating or annoying.

The initial sign-up process was a little less than intuitive, and upon launching the game, I had to wait for several screens that tested rendering and so on, and this happened every time I attempted to start up, connect etc. The game then preloaded all textures, and I was presented with a screen with nebulae, and tiny points for stars, some floating cloud layers and diminutive 3D models that reminded me of something from the era of Outpost.


Then a small icon of a sad-looking 2D robot pops up in the top left whose voice sounds like a 1-900 conversation with a stoned hippie girl and she is going to guide me through my tutorial phase (she literally drawls “Yeeeeeaaaah….we’re moving!” every time you leave a space port unless you switch her off in the options menu)…

In SS2 you take on the role of galactic pilot, either joining Earthforce as a cadet, or becoming a pirate. From such simple beginnings come boundless possibilities. Take on combat or trade related missions to earn enough cash and experience to train yourself up and build a modded out starship to kick some ass in. Build space stations and manage colonies that are all your own. Join groups in order to take on missions you couldn’t do on your own.

Deep Space

Sure, a lot of that sounds like typical MMO stuff, but there’s something to be said for the depth of design in SS2. Add to this the fact that the entire galaxy is reset every few months so that you can try to battle your way to dominance all over again and you’ve got a lot of potential. Unfortunately, I found all the depth seemed wasted on over-simplified gameplay.

Do you remember one of the first video games, Spacewar? Neither do I. Before my time. I do remember Asteroids, and later on Star Control 1 and 2. (Shut up! I’m not old!) Anyway,what these games all have in common with each other, as well as with SS2, is their basic control scheme: A top-down view of a spaceship that you “thruster” around a flat-screen playfield, attempting to shoot whatever stuff a quest has assigned to you, and trade things at the space station menus.

Spacing Out

The flight controls can be maddening when trying to stay locked on targets. Basically, you have to keep correcting your heading and thrust to keep a bead on your objective. A well placed burst from a projectile can send your hurtling off in completely unintended direction, and by the time you’ve compensated, the enemy’s shields will likely have regenerated. You can right-click on a point on the map to engage auto-pilot, but this comes at the cost of any momentum you had built up. Is it true to space physics? Perhaps. Does it make for intuitive and enjoyable gameplay? It does not.

Star_Sonata 2 screenshot - Absentis-and-missiles

Ancient Space Dust

And that’s where SS2 finds itself: Stuck in the early 90’s. Even the graphics and sound evoke the era. I’m sure this is intentional, and I’m quite fond of a nostalgia trip, but I think it’s safe to say the throwback quality should begin and end with the atmosphere. I try to review a game on its merits, and there’s nothing functionally wrong with SS2, so I don’t want to slag on it just because I found it insanely dull. I can’t fathom why people like playing Farmville either, but I wouldn’t rate it poorly because I don’t ‘get it’.

The fact that the controls and basic gameplay mirror those old games had me struggling not to fall asleep while playing. Sure, there’s more for me to manage in SS2. Sure, I can buy more ships and sort of have a little RTS action going. In the end though, it’s me angling this tiny ship around going pew pew.

Space Oddity

I know a review is supposed to give you a better idea as to whether or not a game is worth your time, and in this case I’m inclined to say it isn’t…though I would suggest you try it anyway. It’s going to cost you nothing and maybe the retro-themed control scheme will be more to your liking than it was to mine.

Download Star Sonata 2 from the official website

[xrr rating=”2.5/5″]

2 thoughts on “Review: Star Sonata 2 – A Space Sim MMORPG

  1. In order to review this game properly you would have to play it for a while. Like you say you get hit by something and you shoot away? Later in the game you wil find that there are dampeners to counter that. Trying to aim but cant seem to hit your target? Get beter tracking via augmenters/modded gear ect.
    Got bored of trading commods yourself? Setup a trade slave fleet and let them do it for you.

    But its all a mater of opinion in the end. But writing off a game before you even went through a small percent off it seems silly.

    So ppl should try it. It takes time to get used to at first..but you wil enjoy it so much once you work through that.

    If you ever played EVE before and then go to this game..EVE looks alot beter. But is alot more boring to.
    On eve you click and click. Here you have to dodge/outsmart your enemys. end this: try the game and stick with it once it gets toug and you wil have a new game you wil enjoy!

    1. I agree completely. SS2 is not the kind of game that you can play for a few hours and even scratch the surface of the true depth of the game. And that’s what makes it (IMHO) such an awesome game! The richness of detail in this game is, quite simply, astounding. There is ALWAYS something new to try, some new item to find, some new mission to go on, some new ship to capture, build or buy, some new part of the universe to explore, some new skill to train, some new alien race to fight. If you get sick of your current direction in the game, simply make a new character and start in another direction. As for the controls, I do not think that this reviewer understood the concept of targeting one’s opponent and engaging in a dogfight. If it bothers you that you have to actively control your ship and use a bit of skill, ingenuity and dexterity to defeat your opponent, don’t play SS2. But for anyone who’s ever played a top down space sandbox game before, the controls will be completely intuitive.

      That said, if you’re someone who’s looking for pretty, state-of-the-art graphics, SS2 is likely not for you. It’s a game that focuses on content over flashy appearance. In that sense, it is, as the author said, kind of a retro throwback to the 90’s. But if you’re like me, and you value novelty, richness of content and gameplay over fancy graphics, then you’ll love this game.

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