Space…. The final frontier… These are the voyages of your own space station, custom built of your imagination using an array of components and modules. Such is the premise of Vision Videogames’ Space Station Sim. Not only design and construction, but also crew selection and management. While this may sound dry to some of you, a space station simulation sounds like music to my simming ears.
You begin at mission control, where you have a large selection of areas or departments you can visit, ranging from component purchasing to astronaut creation. If you wish to launch a new module for your station, simply go to that department of mission control and select it. Then allocate funding to the construction of the module from various space agencies from around the world and select a launch vehicle. After that, the module is launched and connected to your station in orbit. Then you can outfit your newly launched module with different components. These components come in many categories such as life support and even entertainment (your astronauts get bored up there).
Once in the space station view you can take a peak inside the various modules you have added to your build and select your astronauts for activities. Astronaut management is where the game gets a bit boring for me, as Vision Videogames has gone with a ‘The Sims’ approach to management. Each astronaut has a host of needs and wants. You assign them to various tasks and hope they execute them before deciding they need to use the restroom for the umpteenth time. Personally, I would rather have seen the astronauts as npc’s so I could focus solely on station construction and technical management. Worrying about getting an astronaut their daily workout is not all that appealing to me. Now you don’t technically have to micro-control your astronauts as their AIs should take care of the most pressing issues. However, we found them to be extremely slow and inefficient in responding to situations while in ‘autonomous’ mode.
So, character management is a negative for me. How are the graphics? Well, not so great, but as a simmer I am far more than willing to forgive some bad graphics as long as gameplay is good, which it can be in Space Station Sim. Sound design is fine, with plenty of pre-recorded effects. The score is one of Space Station Sim’s strong points and as has all been recorded or sampled from an assortment of indie artists including Marilyn Rucker and the lovely Julia Othmer.
How do you keep your station afloat, so to speak? Well, through support of the international community which grants you funding. One of the biggest challenges in Space Station Sim is building an assortment of modules and funding them from a variety of agencies. This increases support from those agencies and their respective countries as does performing experiments in science modules. The more support you have, the more funding. Support is denoted by how many ‘flags’ a country has next to it. More flags, more fun (sorry, hate that commercial)! Once all five countries have 999 flags attributed to them, you win the game and can quit or continue on at your discretion.
Overall, Space Station Sim has some fun moments. However, Vision Videogames has made some poor choices which muddle the experience down in astronaut drama.
You can find the official Space Station Sim website here.