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REVIEW: No Man’s Sky (Video Game)

No Man’s Sky is one of the hottest games out right now and guest writer Andrew Higgins has given us the scoop on why all Fan Bros out there needs to play it:

No Man’s Sky is ambitious and like most truly ambitious efforts, it falls short of its lofty expectations. But in falling short, it has crushed every other attempt to date to create a truly open interstellar game. Everything I have ever wanted to do in a space-faring video game, I can do here. I can walk through a cave on a jungle planet one minute, then hop in my supped-up space craft (I have one that looks just like a Viper from Battle Star Galactica) and zoom across the surface of that planet at amazing speeds, dodging through canyons. I can locate a destination on a planet that is literally hours away traveling at surface speeds, launch into the upper atmosphere and into orbit, circumnavigate the planet and be at my destination in minutes.

This is not a simulation, but it has a simulation-type feel. This is not a survival game, but this has survival-type elements. This game defies convention at every corner. Fly from a planet’s surface to a space station that is literally across a solar system and then you will understand the grand scale of this title. It’s worth nothing here that this game was basically made by twelve people while literally thousands of people designed Halo 5. Keep that in mind while you’re exploring that vast expanse of this game.

Here’s the bottom line on No Man’s Sky: it is the greatest, dullest, most mind-bendingly beautiful game that I have ever played and one that I long to get back to, despite the fact that I have no idea what is going to happen next and that I am pretty sure it will be uneventful. But let’s break it down some more.

 

no man's sky cockpit 

The Good

I will say it, but I don’t think I need to, bigger is better and it does not get any better or bigger than No Man’s Sky. The scale is (pun intended) galactic. Just when I think I am in a rut, there is some new content, alien, or technology that is introduced that makes the game feel brand-new. I spend hours on this game and I still feel like I have not progressed at all, but at the same time I feel a sense of purpose and continue. This game, more than any other, makes me feel like I have an avatar that is dependent upon me to keep it alive and progressing along an invisible (non-linear) path. There is an endless amount of things to do, aliens to talk to and planets to visit. And to say this game is beautiful is the understatement of the year. Any screen shot is worthy of a tweet because it is simply breathtaking. Did I mention that this game was made by just twelve people? I did? Well, did I mention for a game this vast that download size is only 2.3 Gigabytes? To put that in perspective, Street Fighter 5 is over 6.4 Gigabytes and it pales in perspective in so far as scale is concerned.

 

The Bad

There is so much of everything but also not enough of anything. For example, the flight mechanics are great, but try and crash your starship into the surface of a planet and you can’t. The dialogue system also feels tacked on and the puzzles are repetitive and overly simplistic. There are enemies in this game, but they are few and far between: I was pleasantly surprised by pirates when I jumped into a new system, but unfortunately they quickly gunned me down and now I have not seen them in a week. These are all small gripes and I understand that there are technical challenges (again, I cannot say enough of how much of a technical marvel this game is). At first blush, the game seems incomprehensibly deep, but within a few hours the details seem to just be a veneer on a flat uncomplicated system that randomly generates responses. At some point you start yearning for more “rails” to tidy up the experience. But as much as you might want bosses and progress points, cut scenes and milestones, that just ain’t this game.

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Conclusion

No Man’s Sky is a technical achievement of epic proportions.  However, this game is not for everyone. It definitely is a niche game for a certain type of gamer that does not require the immediate gratification of beating a boss or crossing a finish line. The triumphs in the game come in micro-moments of survival, not in defeating an enemy. This game will literally change the way games are made forever and for that alone No Man’s Sky earns a spot in the Video Game Hall of Fame.

I do think every gamer should have this title in their inventory, much like Grand Theft Auto and World of Warcraft, just so you can be a witness to a revolution in gameplay. There are some weak spots in this title, but they are small compared to the unbelievable scale and scope of this game. Let me say it again: every gamer should own No Man’s Sky. This is the largest salvo fired yet in the changing of the guard from major studio development to indie development for first-tier gaming titles and you don’t want to miss it.

 

Are you playing No Man’s Sky too? Let us know what you think in the comments or on Twitter @FanBrosShow!