Friday, 8 November 2013

Kerbal Space Program

Have you ever wanted to travel to the stars, put your feet on alien worlds or even just experience zero gravity? Then the Kerbal Space Program is the game for you.

Recently I have been bitten by the space bug, almost going mad with rocket fever and sporting a mad scientist laugh. Building my very own rockets that will carry either; live Kerbal's or drones to orbit and beyond. You'll be able to build anything that you can imagine with the available parts. I must stress, this IS a game that is being currently built and constantly updated. Having said that, this is one of the best space building simulators on the market, based on real physics, which means if it wouldn't fly in reality, it just won't cut the mustard here either.

Featuring multiple staging, so you can go higher and faster, eventually reaching a stable orbit after decoupling stacks and booster rockets, that run dry on fuel. Weight plays a huge part in breaking free of the gravity of the Kerbal home world. However, you should be warned, running the engines above 90% long enough will overheat the engines and you will have barbequed Kebal's falling back down on to the launch pad.

This is not just a game of reaching space, it's about building an entire space program, from building rovers to take to other worlds, to docking craft in orbit to make space stations. It's all within your grasp. Everyone has at least heard the audio from Neil Armstrong's first step onto the surface of, what was at the time, an alien world, our very own Moon. "That's one small step for a man, One giant leap for Mankind", which is true even for the Kerbal's. This would be a giant leap for anybody who managers to achieve this accomplishment, trust me it is every bit as hard for you as it was for NASA and the Soviet Union.

Once having achieved landing on the Kerbal moon (the Mun,) you may want to start to explore the solar system you inhabit. Naturally, there are scientific devices that you can fit to any craft to further the Kebal's understanding of how their universe works, some of these devices are gravity detectors, communication arrays, thermometers and much more. This will be a massive part of the campaign. At this stage, you have the sandbox option to build and do what you desire, with disregard for budgets and mission perimeters. But the campaign offers a learning curve for even advanced players and I highly recommend starting at this point.

This may look like a space only simulator, well this is not the case as you can build space planes also to return your Kerbalnaughts back from your shiny new space station. In the event of catastrophic failure, you can fit parachutes to the command capsule to return them safely to the planet.

The graphics tie in well with it's main concept of space flight, as can be witnessed in any setting within the solar system. The developer Squad employed a procedural graphics engine, that delivers stunning graphics up close or from orbit. You'll see the tiny blue pearl increase in detail, and even see some mountain ranges from orbit as your craft returns home.

I personally like the feature that allows you to apply and modify, to perform slingshot and gravity braking maneuvers which have been used by NASA, the Soviet Union and the European Space Agency. This WILL make or break mission objectives, being able to set the ship to burn the rockets for the required time to complete the change in orbit.

Overall Squad delivered a FUN and exciting game, which you will teach a thing or two you may not have known before about physics or space. Playing around with ideas and finding the rocket setup that is best suited to you is a good experience, and being able to rectify these small issues at an early time in your space agency, will pay off many dividends as you progress to alien planetary exploration.

Squad delivered a great overall game, even though it's still in heavy development. They are allowing the use of, and encourage the sharing of community made mods, be it space planes or rockets and even part packs to expand, the available catalog to create rocket monstrosities of your own to unleash upon the waiting stars.... Will you achieve the Kerbal's ultimate goal, To colonize the solar system and beyond?

Kid safe and great real world physics, I could not ask for any more out of a good space simulator