Positech Games is polishing off the finishing touches on their upcoming Gratuitous Space Battles 2 and I've been (excitedly) playing the Beta, to see what makes this one bigger, better and, yes, gratuitouser than the original. The first thing I noticed is that not only can you change up the loadout of the ships, but you can change their appearance by adding modular pieces and parts to make them into something one-of-a-kind, with your own sense of design. The editor lets you add parts from a stock of pre-made parts, alter the scale of things, push things above or below other things, even add rotation and engine blast effects.
The backgrounds have been reworked a bit, made more lifelike by adding several levels of parallax scrolling depth, which can be beautifully distracting when moving around an asteroid field.
Gratuitous Space Battles 2 Beta trailer
Plan Your Offensive:
Gameplay seems to be mostly the same as GSB, where you design your ships, then use them to build up an armada, staying within budget and deploying within your allowed area, and then assign orders to the ships, instructing them whether they should fight cautiously or haphazardly, what sorts of ships they should attack and what role they should play, be it escorting a larger ship or rescuing allies in distress. Once all is selected and set up, you simply start the fight.
After that point, you won't have any direct intervention; you've taught them well, you'll have to let them go off on their own, now. You can adjust the speed of the simulation: slow it down to allow you to scroll around and take everything in, or speed it up to just get on with it and see your fight's outcome... or to simply end the suspense already. Sometimes the fights can be quite close, and the stress and anxiety over whether you'll win can get tense, at times... and the fights can go on for a while. I started one game and lost my advantage early in the fight and had to go eat dinner. I figured I'd let it play out on its own and spent two hours eating dinner while watching a movie. When I returned, I was ever-so-slightly in the lead and the fight was still ongoing. I eventually sped that fight up and watched on the edge of my seat as my side slowly eked out a win...
For Great Honor!:
...which is actually exactly what you want. When you win a battle, you are awarded "Honor" points. The awarded Honor is greater the closer matched the opponents were or, to put it another way, the less resources you invest into a victory, the grander the rewards you'll reap. As you earn Honor, you'll be able to spend these Honor points to unlock a slew of upgrades, including 43 ship design components, 3 additional races, 24 ship hulls and 61 ship modules, with such fun things as "Graphene Armor", "Combat Tractor Beams" (damages enemy ships by shaking them while slowing them down) and Cloaking technology (I know, right?), in the Research Mode.
In addition to the "Campaign" missions of 11 planets to battle above, Gratuitous Space Battles 2 features a Challenges feature, in which you can set up scenarios and challenge others online. Look for a full review when the game releases.