Every now and then a game will come along that you will fall in love with. Kerbal Space Program has captured my heart like no other game. First off, it has been lovingly crafted by the development team who have consistently engaged and embraced its community. Being a part of the community leaves you feeling like a part of the development team.
Mods are created by many community members and some have even been incorporated into the main game (PC) by the developers. More importantly, feedback is welcomed and listened to. So, what will console owners be doing in Kerbal Space Program? Well there are moons, planets and a deadly Star to visit, all of which go dancing through their orbits waiting to be discovered.
Watching your craft and/or satellites glide through space is extremely satisfying and touching down on an alien moon or world is a truly magical gaming moment. There are some breathtaking and beautiful moments waiting for you and you’ll want to make full use of the consoles’ screenshot and DVR function so that you can share them with your friends.
As with the PC version there are 3 game modes for you to dive into. Career challenges you to start your own space program whilst juggling the costs and dangers that are involved. By completing contracts you are rewarded with science , which you can use to unlock parts, money which allows you to upgrade buildings and build ships, and reputation….well to be honest after all this time I still have no idea what the point in that is but who doesn’t want a good rep?
There is Sandbox which has everything unlocked and the Kerbal system is your playground. Finally there is Science mode which allows you to just concentrate on gathering science and shopping in the tech tree. Anyone who has played the PC version will know that you can easily start to run into performance issues when building complex and massive rockets, especially when it all goes kaboom, so it’s no surprise to see frame drops in the console version although I didn’t find it too annoying.
Textures and particle effects are noticeably worse in the console version but again it’s hardly surprising given the demands on the console’s architecture. All in all I’d say the performance is adequate for an immersive experience and I’ve no doubt that future updates will bring improvements. I’ve got around 400 hours invested in the PC version so I’m very familiar with the game and used to using the mouse and keyboard, and the controller was perhaps my main concern for the console version. Obviously the PC has the edge in the control department however I must admit I’m pleasantly surprised with the end result.
The control scheme makes sense for the most part . There’s a lot of controls to remember but if you get stuck, just put your cursor on the question mark on the right hand side of the screen for the control list. The sensitivity of the cursor and maneuver nodes takes a bit of getting used to but gentle stick movement is what’s required here. The more I use the pad though the more comfortable I’m getting with it and in the case of conventional aircraft I’m finding the pad easier to use than mouse and keyboard. Maneuver nodes are surprisingly easy to set up and whilst a Mouse and Keyboard are easier to use overall, it’s hard not to appreciate the work that’s gone into the console’s control scheme.
If I were to give you two pieces of advice before you start out, they would be Quicksave often and check out Scott Manley’s Kerbal Space Program beginners guides as it really will get you off the ground. The man is literally a Kerbal Space Program and to be honest, a real world genius.
Enjoy this game, enjoy the highs of reaching other planets and the lows of losing a Kerbal due to running out of power or in a strangely hilarious yet tragic explosion on the launch pad. A lot of the physics and orbital mechanics contained within this game are based on real world science. Playing this will teach you in a fun way about space and space exploration. It’s hard to start with but i genuinely can’t think of another game that is quite so rewarding and lovable.
THIS GAME AND THE DEVELOPERS DESERVE YOUR SUPPORT
[Words by Rob Pearce]