Colony Wars: Vengeance is beautiful, but too hard to play

Colony Wars: Vengeance
Reviewed On
Available For
Very Hard

It’s no surprise to anyone who has been reading my articles that I am a big fan of space combat shooters. Look at my past reviews for Wing Commander: Prophecy, Descent: Freespace, Tie Fighter, etc. They are considered by me as the best in their field. However, they are all PC-based. There is another space combat series that I have played before, which is Psygnosis’ Colony Wars for the PlayStation.

The original game really impressed me with its gorgeous detail and intense, yet not too difficult gameplay. So when I heard that a sequel would be coming out, I was really looking forward to it. That sequel, Colony Wars: Vengeance, is now out, and it’s got me wondering "Why?"

If anyone is wondering why am I asking "Why?" for a sequel to an amazing PlayStation space combat shooter, it’s more like "Why Psygnosis, did you have to make this game near impossible?"

Sure, the original Colony Wars was a challenge, but this is just downright ridiculous. I do understand that the plot would be appropriate for the extreme difficulty, since you’re now a member of the once-mighty Imperial Navy, which is now reduced to a shadow of its former self. Your character, Mertens, is an inhabitant of an Earth which looks more like a prison planet after the League of Free Worlds had its way with it.

Mertens seeks the wisdom of a leader by the name of Kron who vows to reunite the original Navy and make it a force powerful enough to force the League back to their homeworld of Gallanigher.

Now like I said, forming a ragtag army back to greatness is no easy task, but there should at least be an opportunity to move on. Right from the start you are pitted against the most difficult space combat ever made, even for seasoned veterans like myself. For instance, there is one mission in which your ship has to transport highly volatile cargo containers to a black hole. The only problem is there is no way to tell when you should launch the cargo, thereby resulting in your ship going into the black hole as well. Not to mention that the enemy pilots are so well skilled they can easily take out your shields in a second.

Even worse, capital ships are now equipped with the cheapest laser weapon ever seen. I think the only game that can come this close in impossibility was the original X-Wing for the PC, but whereas X-Wing was difficult in a puzzle sort of way (finding out the mission objectives for yourself), CW:V’s difficulty is based on the gameplay itself, and not having a difficulty select really hurts!

It’s a shame though that such impossible gameplay had to ruin some gorgeous graphics (surpassing those from the beautiful original) and some very impressive cut scenes (albeit missing that awesome James Earl Jones-esque voiceover from the original), because this game could have been a lot better.

If it had a difficulty select and more reasonable gameplay, I would have probably given this game at least 4 gems, but as it stands, it gets 2 1/2!

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