Available :February 2005

Nexus: The Jupiter Incident © hd Interactive, Mithis
By: Kurt Knudsen

Before I received my copy of Nexus: The Jupiter Incident I had pretty much no knowledge of the game, other than that it was a space RTS/Sim. I can say right now that I was absolutely blown away when I was dropped into the cockpit of a huge space cruiser. The graphics are incredible and the gameplay is incredibly simply immersive. I haven’t played anything like this in quite some time.

The story takes place in the 22nd century and it has been 60 years since the terrible catastrophe that befell Noah’s Ark, the first colony ship of mankind. You play as Marcus Cromwell, whom is already famous and an incredible pilot. Your ship, the Stiletto, is equipped with an array of weapons that can destroy just about anything. You also have a small fleet of fighters as well as a commander that inspects shipwrecks, enemy ships, etc.

But enough of that, let’s get to the game. Nexus, in my eyes, is a mix of X2: The Threat, Freelancer, and Homeworld. X2 had the graphics and the depth, but was far too complicated for the masses. Freelancer had the arcade feel and was incredibly fun with a great story. Homeworld had the combat and the massive ships, but had a lot of micromanaging. Nexus takes all of that and makes it their own. You do not have to micromanage your ships. You are given a fleet and you control only that fleet. You can repair them or send them off to battle, but you do not need to create new units or build massive resources. The graphics are on par or better than X2 and that’s saying something. Not only that but the game runs amazingly well on a 9600 Mobility laptop. You control the ships as you would in Homeworld, from a 3rd person perspective or the floating camera view.

The entire universe looks great. The overall feel is very impressive and immersive. I just love this game and can’t get enough of it. Graphically speaking the game is top-notch. The ships are highly detailed as are the surrounding objects. As you fly you can see the engine trails behind the ships. The lighting engine is amazing and casts very detailed shadows on every conceivable surface. It is a joy to watch your small fleet of fighters can be seen zooming around the enemy ship firing their guns at them.

The pre-rendered cut-scenes do a great job in telling the story. The game moves out of the cut-scenes and into the game pretty seamlessly. The load times aren’t too bad or too frequent. The music does its job at keeping the game suspenseful and absorbing. Sound effects are great and a wonderful job in helping you “feel” the impact of the explosions and lasers hitting the ships. When you get hit or you are watching a target getting hit the screen shakes a lot as if you were right there in the thick of things. The voices are great and the placeholder voice for the cut-scenes does its job rather well.

Gameplay is a major deciding factor in choosing a game. The graphics can be the best of the best but if the gameplay is horrible it won’t sell very well, unless it’s hyped up like Doom 3 or Duke Nukem Forever. As I said before the game is incredibly immersive and because of this I feel that a lot of RTS and Space sim fans will absolutely love this game. The combat situations can get pretty intense. Thankfully the controls aren’t difficult at all; the in-game tutorials tell you what each function does and when and how to use it thus cutting down the learning curve of the game. From what I’ve played so far I can tell this game is going to get interesting and even deeper as the story progresses.

Overall I am deeply impressed by this game. I wasn’t expecting anything of this caliber, especially after I had played X2. I thought X2 was as good as it was going to get and pretty much turned me away from space Sims. I have a feeling this game could win a lot of awards and a lot of players hearts.