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Jumpgate Evolution Hands-On Report: In the Eyes of a Veteran

Updated Tue, Feb 24, 2009 by Cody Bye

The current video game marketplace has not been kind to space combat fans. While we once had store shelves that were full of titles like Wing Commander, X-Wing, Elite, TIE Fighter, Privateer and Freespace. Now the space action genre has all but dried up, with gamers having to resort to the older titles to get their space jollies. The video game market, however, is incredibly cyclical and games that were once faring poorly in the market tend to make rousing returns. Roleplaying, adventure, first person shooters, and RTSes have all been up and down this roller coaster, and if the developers at NetDevil have anything to do with it, the space combat genre will hit another peak in June 2009 thanks to Jumpgate Evolution.

Jumpgate Evolution will bring space combat gamers back into their glory days after a very long reprieve.

Before I dive any further into this Jumpgate Evolution hands-on report, I need to give you a bit of my background info. I’m a space combat junkie. Ever since LucasArts first started publishing the X-Wing series, I’ve been strapped to a joystick and flying around space looking for errant bogies to blast out of the black. While you received a fine dose of unbiased content from Ten Ton Hammer’s Jay Johnson with his unadulterated look at the game, I come from a camp of players that grew up with the space combat shooter.

When I initially sat down at one of the six laptops (yes laptops!) that were running Jumpgate Evolution; I immediately noticed the astounding beauty of JGE. For years, everyone has praised the graphics in EVE Online. However, the graphics in Jumpgate Evolution are as good or better than its more strategic cousin. Compared to some of the very early builds I saw at last year’s GDC and a few of the later conferences, the play areas have greatly improved and offer a titillating amount of visual eye candy. From enormous boiling suns to immense battle stations and wrecked cruisers, the art team at NetDevil has really pushed forward in their efforts in this department. These space areas are not empty, lifeless husks of black; they’re stylized, active areas that players will love to explore and fight in.

Along with the zones, all of the spaceships in JGE offer an incredible amount of diversity from one another. After seeing dozens of screenshots depicting the Solrain, it was nice to finally get a chance to gaze at the Octavian ships. While the Solrain ships are streamlined and sleek (more like the Republic transports in Star Wars Eps. I-III), the Octavian ships practically bristle with aggression. With jutting protrusions and wicked profiles, these ships will definitely sate the users lust to look as badass as they feel.


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