Part resource management, part strategy and part wargame, Malkari is set in a randomly created solar system consisting of 100 or more asteroids.
Starting in control of one of the asteroids, your mission is to take charge of as many of the others as you can, exploiting them for minerals and power and defending them with fleets of spaceships or ground vehicles. Wiping out anyone else in the game is obviously an option too.
To spice things up a bit, there are five different 'guilds', each representing a different philosophy, technology and culture, and each of which is in turn made up of eight different 'chapters' - hence the support for up to 40 players in multiplayer mode either across the Internet or a network. The chapters in each guild are allied at first, although things can change depending on the final victory conditions set by the host player.
Follow The Leader
You play the leader of one particular chapter, starting with a space station and a scout ship orbiting a home asteroid which has a number of ground vehicles already mining the surface for four different minerals (silicates, metals, exotic and reactive materials), and is producing organics and power.
Quite why things are the way they are is covered in the game's comprehensive 150-page manual, so suffice to say your first task is to scout the nearby asteroids and build a transport to colonise it with ground vehicles.
Next you need armed spaceships to defend yourself, more transports, more scouts to explore further afield, and a fleet of heavily tooled up destroyers, cruisers and ultra-powerful battleships to take out rival guilds and protect your transport convoys. And so it goes...
Time And Spice
In case you're thinking that this all sounds a bit tedious, Malkari does have at least one or two things going for it. The solar system is three-dimensional, and you can use one of four different camera views and multiple levels of zoom to navigate your way around. However, each asteroid has a different orbital speed and path, so two asteroids that are close together at the start might be at opposite ends of the galaxy a few turns later. To get to grips with this you can switch to future view and track the movement of each asteroid -not just in space, but also in time - using simple video-style controls. This opens up all kinds of new strategies in which you colonise rapidly moving asteroids and let them take attacking fleets and space stations deep into enemy territory.
Malkari is a vast, complicated game in which you can spend hours customising your spaceships, trading minerals and other resources, or maximising extraction from each asteroid, but at its simplest it's about combat, combat and more combat. However, the main problem Is that despite the complex rules, battles are played out at the end of a turn and you don't really get to find out what happened. Watching a transport blow up with a 3D explosion and wonderful sound effects doesn't tell you what you did wrong or how you can improve the life expectancy of its replacement. The graphical summary is hopelessly inadequate, and is the only thing that lets the game down.
In terms of its interface, Malkari is excellent. The 'go to' bar along the top of the main screen is a neat idea that makes it easy to switch between your various ships and asteroid bases, while the filter buttons and the navigation grid make it easy to see what's going on and where. You need all the help you can get, as the game very quickly becomes fast and furious.
If you're after intense gameplay, in-depth strategy and entertaining presentation, Malkari is worth aiming at.
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP