Kerbal Space Program is a game that I’ve had my eye on for a very long time; I don’t know why I hadn’t pulled the trigger on it way before this point – but when I saw it at £16 in the most recent steam sale and the “overwhelmingly positive” reviews, it was a no-brainer.
For those who are not in the know, ‘Kerbal Space Program’ (KSP from now on) is a sandbox space exploration game in which you create your own objectives, your own starships and begin to explore the universe around the planet Kerbal.
Oh my its difficult
You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to play KSP; but the game may just make a rocket scientist of you!
The first thing that hits you in the face with a thud is the sheer difficulty of the game. There is a really good tutorial that explain everything from starship creation and spaceflight to micromanagement in your very own Cape Canaveral. However the game systems are so in-depth that this tutorial literally only scrapes the surface; for everything else you’ll have to learn either through trial and error or by following online tutorials.
I jumped in on the creation tutorial and made a very simple, large, single engined, rocket that I hoped would get me out of the atmosphere and into orbit. I was so very wrong! As soon as I launched it exploded, time and time again my creation was exploding and I had no idea why…
…turns out that the engine I had was too powerful for the chassis and during take off the atmosphere and speed of ascent was too much and causing the explosions. It was right here that I realised how in-depth and realistic this game is. I had bitten off far more than I could chew and knew that I had to change tactic somehow. I tried a smaller engine, but my ship would barely leave the ground before falling over, then I tried more than one small engine, again it was utter failure…
…it was frustrating but I knew that I’d nail it in the end.
Blue Peter style
In exploring the menus a little bit I realised that there are hundreds of premade ships that have been flown and tested and work. This makes these ships the perfect starting point for any newbie because you can focus 100% on the take off and flying phase that is oh so important.I chose a rocket that was designed to get you into orbit and made several failed attempts to get it launched.
I had to resort to a guide, although it made it easier for me to understand what, and more importantly, when to do things it still took me ages to successfully get a mission in to an orbit. There was blood, sweat and tears on that mission – I was terrified in case I made an error and cost me my success.
When I saw my orbital line come back on itself I literally jumped up and punched the air 1980s style; I haven’t felt this level of satisfaction since the boss fights in ‘Dark Souls’ – it was here that the game clicked with me. This is what KSP is all about. It is about the struggle during the design phase, the nervousness during the takeoff and the relief as you succeed.
Graphics and Sound
What makes this cycle even better is that the little Kerbals reflect your emotions through their hugely emotive faces in the bottom right of the screen. The whole graphical presentation of KSP is excellent!
While it isn’t the most gorgeous game ever created there are moments that make you sit up and take notice. When you are taking off you can see the curvature of the planet as you go up and the transition between terra firma, atmosphere, inner space and outer space is nothing short of gorgeous. It is a beautiful game at times – best of all it runs silky smooth 100% of the time I had absolutely no hiccups with frame rate or stutters and my PC is not exactly a monster rig.
The sound is also excellent, the musical score that subtly changes as you leave the atmosphere and enter space is beautifully done. On Kerbal the music and sound effects are relaxing yet upbeat, this is crucial at managing your mood because; if you haven’t noticed, you will fail a lot more than you succeed and the game has to keep you trying. The music is the key in keeping you around!
‘Kerbal Space Program’ is a great game. It allows you to set your own goals and adjust the goalpost as and how you see fit. Now that I have successfully gotten a ship into orbit I have set my sights at creating a ship capable of a moon orbit – then I will attempt a moon landing.
On top of the sandbox mode there are the Science and Career modes which will offer new challenges and game play time. I am excited to explore the universe around Kerbal and I hope to discover new and exciting things – here’s to the next 100 hours!
Have you played KSP? Got any tips for me?
Please leave them in the comments below!