Game Over Online ~ Shattered Galaxy

GameOver Game Reviews - Shattered Galaxy (c) Nexon, Reviewed by - Morgur

Game & Publisher Shattered Galaxy (c) Nexon
System Requirements Windows, Pentium II-266, 64MB RAM, Internet Connection
Overall Rating 88%
Date Published Monday, January 7th, 2002 at 02:11 PM

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The FULL game (NOT A DEMO!) is available NOW for download at in the ‘Downloads’ section.

In addition to the free download, Nexon is offering a 14-day FREE Shattered Galaxy account that does not require a credit card or registration to play!

Shattered Galaxy by Nexon takes Real-Time Strategy (RTS) genre games to the next level of massive online multiplayer warfare and has set new standards for the world of total on-line RTS gaming. The game has already cleaned up four awards at the 2001 Independent Games Festival including the Grand Prize, Best Game Design, Technical Excellence, and Audience Choice awards. After playing Shattered Galaxy, I now consider it to be a landmark game which is laying down a foundation for the future of online RTS gaming. SG is a sci-fi RTS game taking place in a constantly evolving universe where you will fight huge on-line battles for your faction using 40+ types of customized war units. I encourage you to start downloading the free 14-day trial right now as you continue reading the rest of this review (you can get it here under the ‘Downloads’ section).

After installation, a character profile must be created by selecting a character picture, name, faction, and dishing out some initial stat points into the character’s skills. A tutorial will give an immediate hands-on tour of the main city buildings and get the player into the game by stepping through purchasing troops and practice combat. Most of the game-play is strategy and RTS combat action, but the character and unit development add in a splash of role-playing as well. The character will gain experience through battles to level up and is awarded stat points, which can be placed into four main character abilities. Higher stats open up new unit types and technologies for the units that you will take into battle. With each victory, the character gains higher ranking or ‘prestige’ among the other players and also 'honor' points which gives unit health bonuses at certain levels. You can also join or even form a regiment with other players within the game. I recommend joining one of the existing regiments as soon as possible so you have a reliable group of players to call on for reinforcements during battle. Regiment and faction leaders will also organize strategic plans and will put markers on the planetary map directing players as to which territories to defend, avoid, or fight at.

There are several planets to battle on and each has different levels of difficulty, but beginning characters will start out on a newbie planet and can move to more advanced planets when they feel their character is ready to take on more experienced players. Every planet has its own capital for each faction and there are over 50 surface territories to fight for. Additionally, each player can create their own unique combination of units and specialize in particular unit types including infantry, mobile, air/aviation, or alien/organic units. This makes for varied and exciting combat since no two player’s unit selections are alike and each territory map is different. The main territory map shows all of the territories that your character can travel to and you can choose to sit and defend a territory, start a new battle, or reinforce an existing battle. The game also has varied battlefields and in addition to the surface map there are also two levels of underground territories or caves where battles against computer controlled alien races can also be waged. You can move your character to different locations using the territory map, or you can also walk him around the map using the scrolling 3rd person view.

One of the nice things is the amount of troops your character can own, which can total up to 48 units. Each individual unit has its own experience points and you can tweak each one out at the unit lab and configure it with the weapons and other accessories that you want to take them into battle with. Depending on your character skill, a total of 6 to 12 units can be brought into combat at a time as a squad and when they die you can bring in reinforcements from your unit reserves. The squads taken into combat can be any mix of units that have been purchased. I typically like to keep my squads in sets of the same type so that those units all level up about the same time and I can tweak them out with the same technology upgrades. For instance, I would take 6 infantry into battle as a squad or a squad of 6 Manticore anti-air tanks. The units that make up a squad are up to the player to select and you’ll find yourself using different squad strategies as you play more. Some people may like to have 3 tanks and 3 infantry for a squad as an example. When I first started playing, I put a squad together consisting of a single red-eye radar unit and put that in with 5 infantry troops for my maximum 6 unit squad. With this squad, I hid my radar unit at the edge of the map using it to sporadically scan the battlefield for enemies to hunt them down with my infantry. If nobody on your side has radar then you’ll be at a disadvantage since you won’t know where the enemy is hiding due to the fog of war.

Once combat is initiated or joined, the player uses his/her units to defend or attack the enemy and capture the POC's (Point Of Control) on the map. To capture a POC, a ground unit must sit on the POC for a certain amount of time. Each battle has a 20-minute timer, but the battle can be won in a shorter period of time if all of the POC’s are captured before the timer runs out. Most battles that I’ve played actually continue for the entire 20 minutes with both sides strategizing and battling it out for control of the POC’s. During the combat, units can reinforce from either side at any time during the battle except for the last 3 minutes, so just when you think things are going your way the enemy may get massive reinforcements. The battle leader for each side is the player who has the highest prestige points and you'll need to keep an eye on the chat box to see what the leader’s strategy is as sometimes he will be giving you orders to provide support, defend a POC, or capture a POC. I've seen some impressive tactics including some players who will fly armored air transports called ROCs over a POC during the last minute of the battle and drop off heavily armored tanks to capture the POC and win the battle at the last second. During a battle, there is some lag when players enter the battle to reinforce at which time a reinforcements screen will pop up indicating the player name that is entering the battle and how long it will take them to get to the battle from their current location on the planet. The game pauses momentarily to synchronize these new incoming players into the battle, but you get used to it. One thing to note is that I didn’t have any lag problems on my DSL connection other than that, and moving my units around the map in and out of combat was smooth sailing.

The rewards of combat are good and as units gain more experience and the character skills are developed, you will be able to purchase heavier class chassis and outfit your units with better technologies. You’ll also get money and different resources from combat that allow you to purchase, upgrade and repair your units. The game advancement system is very well developed and new technology options are easily available once a couple of stat points are put into the characters technology skill. As soon as I had gone up a level, I upped my characters technology level and went to the unit lab to upgrade some gear on my units. It’s nice that this game has a variety of things to do outside of combat and the place that players usually spend the most amount of time at is the unit lab. The lab is where the units you own can be upgraded and tweaked out with everything from the chassis, power, engine, weapons, armor, sensors, engine, and other special items. This is kind of like build your own super warrior but the range of items available in each category is immense and I have spent an hour at times tweaking my units out before getting back into combat and testing them out. One time I upgraded my Eagle fighter chassis and forgot to add weapons to the new units. It took me a couple seconds to figure out why they weren’t firing at all when I went into combat…duh! The amount of chassis and technology upgrades seems to be almost endless and gives you a constant way to improve your ability in combat. One of the cool things I did with my Infantry units is to outfit them with anti-gravity boots. During combat, I noticed the enemy laying mines around the POC, so I just turned on my Imp infantry’s gravity boots and floated right over the mines to take over the POC. Another technology I used on my Spirit ground troops was a sensor jamming device that cloaks them from the enemy radar so I could sneak them in behind enemy lines without detection on their radar.

Shattered Galaxy has the best advancement system I have seen in an RTS game so far and it really makes you want to keep playing. You’ll advance your character level and skills in combat plus get availability to new units and unit upgrades. It’s so much fun to have the biggest guns on the battlefield. One of the other aspects of the game is the social system located in the capital city at your faction headquarters where you can participate in the actual voting of planetary overlords and leaders, and one day you might even be the one getting voted in for one of those positions once you reach a higher level. There are also wars taking place between factions on different planets, which you can join in on, and constant battles that will want to keep you playing. You can keep tabs on these kinds of events by checking the Shattered Galaxy website.

The graphics and sound are both decent and do leave room for improvement; however the game ran with no additional lag or noticeable difference when there were 150 people on my planet as there were when there were over 600 people. Let’s face the facts - the game is played online and the designers had to consider that most of the time there are 20+ players in a battle and each with 6-12 units on the map. There has to be a balance between the performance of the game versus the quality of the graphics. Don’t expect to push the limits of your GeForce 3 card with this game since there is only a single game resolution available, but do expect to be amazed by the incredibly well designed game system that has been developed because it can be addicting. I felt the main interface could be simplified and I found some buttons to be useful and others seemed like they could be tucked away in a submenu instead of cluttering up the screen. However, the combat interface is easy and seems to have all the buttons in the right place.

Sounds are what you would expect for an RTS, nothing eardrum popping, and some of the sound bits are even funny. I always laugh when I click on infantry troops and they sometimes say, ‘wasuuup’. I’d like to be able to play some jamming MP3’s but I didn’t find an option to play from the CD or an MP3 directory in the game at this point. If you purchase the game, you’ll notice that there are some things in the game that aren’t mentioned in the manual or at least I couldn’t find them. I think this holds true with every on-line game as the game is constantly developing and improving, so again you’ll have to check the website and see what new features and options are available. I’ve made some game notes for new players at the end of this article to note some commands and things that are helpful which I didn’t find in the published manual.

To summarize my overall opinion of the game, I think that it is definitely fun and addictive but could be improved if it had better graphics and an easier to use interface. Being an independently designed game, it’s a tremendous piece of work and I salute the designers for the awesome game system that they have developed. I’ve had the opportunity to get three of my friends into playing it by downloading the 14-day trial and we have all had a blast so I’m sure any RTS fan out there will have just as much fun. If your trial runs out and you still have the urge to play, go for it, it’s worth the money.

Additional Game Notes
The printed manual included with the game is very nice and certainly comprehensive at a whopping 136 pages, but some minor things seem to have been left out. This is probably due to the evolving nature of the game since it is a constantly evolving on-line RTS. There are several things you’ll want to be aware of while playing so I’ve compiled a list of a few important pieces of information that I’ve come across which should be helpful for new players:

  • CTRL-R sets your units into a formation. Simply align your units then hit CTRL-R to save the formation. ALT-R restores the formation. There are also preset formations which can be used by first selecting your units and then using ALT-X, Z, C, D, S, A or Q (Didn’t find this in the printed manual).
  • You CAN ALT-TAB out of the game and I’ve never had it crash on me by doing this yet. Nice feature since many games don’t let you do this. I think this is important since most on-line gamers want to chat with their friends using some chat/messaging software. I used Game Voice to actually talk with my buddies during game-play and didn’t have any problems with the game dropping or disconnecting.
  • On the first newbie planet that you will be placed on, people refer to ‘the crater’ often. This is territory #44, which is the only territory besides your home base that has a repair shop in it.
  • Players will be posting comments such as ‘Rein 33’, ‘Rein 25’ or ‘Rein 44’. This is lingo for ‘Reinforce Territory 33’, etc.. Rein = Reinforcements.
  • Reincarnation is an event that you can sign up for and can take place once your character level is high enough. I’ve heard you need to reach level 45. Basically your character is stripped of all money and units and starts over from scratch but is given permanent stat bonuses to make him more powerful.
  • There is a lot of information that you will need to keep updated on such as joining a faction so you can move to different planets. Go to the WARROOM at to join a faction, which will allow you to move from the beginning newbie planet to your faction’s home planet.
  • I’ve seen units called ‘Abomination’ which will probably scare you at first sight. These are giant super-armored troops. If you had originally pre-ordered the game, you’ll be able to get these units and it’s probably worth it, but I think it is be too late to get these units now, which is a shame. You need a special promotional code to get these units and to register for them you’ll have to go to the website WARROOM and enter your login information and code. Special units like these aren’t listed in the manual at all.

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