Probably the best, and most unique, space combat simulator ever made.

User Rating: 8.7 | Nexus: The Jupiter Incident PC
Nexus: The Jupiter Incident is a game unlike any I have ever played. It combines an original and interesting story, compelling characters, diverse and highly detailed ship designs, gorgeous graphics and cutscenes, a strong soundtrack, an innovative ship upgrade system, and more futuristic weapons than you can blast a battlecruiser out of the sky with to create a very fun, very tense, very visceral experience. Nexus starts off slowly, which is a blessing, because in all honesty, getting the hang of controlling your ships can be downright tricky. Movement is primarily accomplished by ordering a ship to move towards or away from another reference point in space, like another ship or an asteroid. Fortunately, the ability to pause the game, and the fact that the interface is actually fairly intuitive, make controlling even a single ship fairly easy, albeit sometimes time-consuming, since you end up having alot of options to tinker with every few seconds or so. The combat in Nexus can be hectic, since many of the later missions involve you maneuvering your battle squadron against some downright enormous enemy fleets - and the fact that you'll have to manually order your ships to switch between anti-shield and anti-hull weapons can get repetitious. Throw in the various power management settings for your multiple ships and keeping an eye on their shield levels, and you'll begin wishing you had four eyes and six hands. Nexus' difficulty level is pretty high, and not just because of the second-by second management required. It's easy to lose a mission for any number of reasons, particularly the escort missions. Although you'll get some fairly helpful instructions from your crew members in-mission, its still a common occurrence to find yourself playing a particular mission over and over again because one of your computer-controlled allies managed to get himself blown to bits despite your best efforts. What's most unusual about the game is how chaotic the battles can become, to the point that they never turn out the same way twice. Despite all your efforts, one of your destroyers will somehow take the brunt of the enemy attack and go down in a matter of seconds; play the mission again, and it doesn't get scratched. Or the tactic you used the first time around gets you nowhere the second time. It can get downright annoying, but fortunately, Nexus does such a good job of convincing you that you're the commander of a naval squadron, and just looks so darn pretty besides, that most of the time it'll make you that much more determined to win the next time. Despite the difficulty level and the attention to detail it requires, Nexus' good points outshine the bad. The story is deep and compelling, and the races are all well-designed, each with their own personality, shipstyle, and look. You'll encounter a wide variety of enemies and allies during your campaign, and they all look and feel real and unique. Most of the voice acting is quite good - even though the boastful Gorgs and whiny Vardrags will get on your nerves, they still sound authentic. The main character, Captain Cromwell, comes across perfectly as the determined, though haunted, fish-out-of-water hero. Most of Nexus' backstory is neatly laid out in flashy, well-animated cinematics, with the rest of it coming in the form of Cromwell's personal logs and mission briefings. Nexus also adds a few quasi-roleplaying elements to the mix as well, as each one of your ships comes with its own captain, complete with profile, and your ships' crews gain experience after each successful battle. As captains level up, they can improve their combat skills, and crews that gain veterancy will perform better in battle. You'll also receive resource points before every mission, which allows you to upgrade your ships with new engines, shields, power generators, and weapons. Lose a ship in combat, however, and you'll have to replace it with a stock model. Since Nexus also keeps track of how many crew members escape alive off a dying ship as well, and adjusts the new ship's experience level accordingly, you may finding yourself getting attached to your pet warships, even reloading a mission to complete it without losing any ships. The only downside of the ship outfitting system is that resource points cannot be reclaimed once spent, potentially stranding you with a poorly-balanced ship design. It's very possible to have to start a mission over after finding out the hard way that you can't win with the current equipment configuration. This makes frequent saving very important. Another plus is that Nexus looks and sounds beautiful. Ships are highly detailed affairs, with glowing engine trails, bristling weapons turrets that blast violently with energy, resplendent shield effects and realistic damage effects. Alarms blare as combat rages, and the weapons sound loud and dangerous. The starkness of space is reminiscent of the vast backgrounds seen in Homeworld, with stars, asteroids, nebulae, and vast, shadowy planets. Looks aside, the true core of Nexus is its compelling gameplay. Unlike Homeworld, there is no resource collecting or shipbuilding - this game is all about tactics. What you get is what you get, and managing your ships down to the last detail is the only way to win. What Nexus does unbelievably well is convey the realism and intensity of fleet-to-fleet space combat, making you feel like a real squadron commander of the future. Its very addicting to just sit and watch your cruisers trade broadsides with the enemy, making it somewhat disappointing that Nexus doesn't have much going for it outside of the main campaign. Although the game comes with a fairly detailed mission editor, a simple skirmish mode might've done more for people who lack the time and patience to labor over crafting their own intricate battles. If you're the kind of person who enjoyed Bridge Commander or Homeworld but was looking for something a little more elaborate in terms of space combat, then Nexus is definitely for you. If you're any kind of tactician who likes a challenge, or if you like any kind of simulation games, then you ought to give Nexus a try. Heck, any kind of sci-fi fan with a knack for PC games is well-advised to check this game out.

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