Review

Kerbal Space Program: Making History Review - Shoot For The Mun

  • First Released Jun 24, 2011
    released
  • Reviewed Mar 29, 2018
  • PC

No time for caution.

The famous Einstein quote that "science is never finished" has never been more perfectly exemplified in a video game than in Kerbal Space Program. After four years in official release, and what felt like a lifetime in early access, the game has provided a deeply impressive set of tools to experiment with, explore, and imagine the possibilities of space travel. In fact, that toolset is so deep, and the game's enraptured fanbase so committed, that it's hard to not see the first official expansion, Making History, as being behind the curve.

The biggest thing Making History adds to the game is a set of missions branded as milestone events in Kerbal astronautical history. Most are modeled after real-world space excursions like the Apollo and Soyuz missions, and there are a few less-realistic scenarios thrown in for good measure, including one that essentially feels like an official Kerbal remake of Alfonso Cuaron's Gravity. It feels like a deliberate, well-curated collection of content that introduces a slew of new parts and vehicles to tinker with. Your performance during these missions are also scored and can be compared to how the rest of the community fared, which is a nice little plus. There's tons of value to be had trying to figure out how best to execute the mission, how best to deploy a ship's resources and crew, or how to efficiently manage an emergency, and there are certainly plenty of those moments to be expected.

These missions are only the beginning, though, as the expansion also brings an official mission editor to the game. Given the aforementioned variables that go into every mission, as you might expect, the tool allowing you to create new missions is just as astoundingly complex. You design new aspects for a mission using a series of linked windows, telling the editor where you want players to start, which craft they'll start with, what the end goal is, what the flight conditions will be, any environmental hazards you wish to add, and what the win state will be.

It's a bit of a mess, though. You can't just click through a menu, choose specific variables for each section and move on. Most of the more elaborate scenarios you could think up involve multiple aspects that need to be linked together using a strange, unwieldy process between option boxes. For my part, all I wanted was to try out the Armageddon scenario of taking off from Earth and slingshotting around the moon (or, rather, the Kerbals' Mun) to land on an asteroid, and I could barely get the mission editor to register the correct flight trajectory. There's a tutorial in the mode that runs you through the basics of using the editor, but just like the tutorial in the core game, it fails to adequately explain the minutiae. Much of what the average player will create (without hours of practice, at least) is the result of trial and error more than actual vision. For what it's worth, this is generally the way everything in Kerbal Space Program works.

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The overarching irony of the expansion, however, is that while new players may be stymied by the editor for hours on end, veterans will have likely already taken full advantage of the legion of mods floating out there for the game, already accessible through the main menu. Aside from the specialized winning and scoring parameters, the official editor seems almost redundant.

There are very dedicated players and creators out there, however, and the expansion most definitely gives those folks more to play with, which has led to some wondrous, fascinating and, yes, absolutely frustrating new player-made missions. Disaster scenarios seem to be a particular specialty, and it has honestly been more captivating to put out situational fires--rescuing a stranded Kerbal, stopping a space station's spin in close to low orbit--than to make things fly on a straight path. Making History certainly adds more to Kerbal Space Program, and those who've already poured hundreds of hours into the game may be grateful for the tiny cache of new supplies it introduces. But in this particular space race, players have already been to the Moon (sorry, Mun) and back long before developer Squad unveiled its new rockets.

  • View Comments (3)
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    The Good
    Lovingly rendered real-world space tech
    Playing through actual missions is a special thrill
    Scoring system gives much needed additional incentive to perfect your designs
    The Bad
    Mission editor is more complex than necessary
    Mods already do much of what the mission editor is meant to
    7
    Good
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    About the Author

    Justin Clark gave the Making History expansion 35 hours, on top of the 120 he's poured into the base game since it officially released. He's pretty sure this means he has a Bachelor's in Astrophysics now. A review code was provided by the publisher.

    Kerbal Space Program More Info

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  • First Released Jun 24, 2011
    released
    • Linux
    • Macintosh
    • + 4 more
    • PC
    • PlayStation 4
    • Wii U
    • Xbox One
    8.3
    Average Rating109 Rating(s)
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    Developed by:
    Squad, Flying Tiger Development, BlitWorks
    Published by:
    Squad, Take-Two Interactive, Private Division
    Genre(s):
    Simulation
    Theme(s):
    Sci-Fi, Space
    Content is generally suitable for all ages. May contain minimal cartoon, fantasy or mild violence and/or infrequent use of mild language.
    Everyone
    No Descriptors