First impressionsO.R.B.

We take an early look at the upcoming 3D space strategy game. New screenshots inside.

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Strategy First has given us a very early demo build of its real-time space strategy game O.R.B., which was in development before Homeworld, despite its apparent similarity to Sierra's game. The game follows the basic real-time strategy formula of resource gathering and technology upgrades, but the game has some new elements that can directly affect the way you play the game.

Essentially, you start off with a main station from which you can order supply ships to mine the surrounding asteroid field. Because the asteroid belt is constantly moving, you need to monitor the status of your supply ships and make sure that they aren't drifting into enemy territory along with the asteroids. In addition to mining them for resources, you can also use empty asteroids as a base for constructing military installations. Moving your units around space is incredibly easy, and instead of restricting the unit movement to a two-dimensional plane, O.R.B. actually lets you move units in any direction you want. The game also gives you the ability to take direct control of your units, turning O.R.B.'s real-time strategy gameplay into more of a space combat game.

There are 20 different units for each of the two factions in O.R.B., and the list of different units ranges from small marine units that can capture enemy ships to enormous capital ships. If you're actually able to capture an enemy ship, you can research its technology and incorporate it into your own units. Finding the various artifacts that are scattered around the environment can also advance your technology tree. O.R.B. features an experience system in which units can gain levels, and your units' levels are transferred over from mission to mission.

O.R.B.'s visuals are quite good even in this early state. Small details like windows on the cockpit area, radar dishes, and cannons are clearly visible on most units. There are also some special effects such as dynamic lighting generated by a massive star and some nice tracer effects coming off your units' engines. Strategy First points out that you can customize different parts of the game like the logos that are pasted onto each unit, and with the scenario editor, you can create individual missions, campaigns, and cutscenes.

For more information, take a look at our previous coverage of the game. O.R.B. is scheduled for release in May.

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