PlayStation 44.00
Overall 4.00
No Man’s Sky created a huge buzz at E3 years ago because of its ambitious goal of creating an entire galaxy to explore. The question quickly became, so what do you do in that Galaxy? For years that question was answered with half truths and broken promises. In essence we would explore to gather resources needed to travel further and further toward our eventual goal at the center of the universe. There was supposed to be alien factions, giant space battles, lots of animal variety. Well NMS is here and most everything that was promised is not in the game. What we did get is the equivalent of a pre-alpha early access game that has no business being full price.

The start of NMS is actually very good. Everyone will start on a different planet so the experience may be a bit different but the goal remains the same, fix your broken ship and get out into space. This gives you time to explore a planet and slowly gain your abilities like activating the mining laser and jet pack. At first everything is exciting; I got to name the planet, all the creatures and plants I saw! I was naming things hoping that one day someone would see my discoveries. I would marvel and the alien landscape, get excited the moment I found a base with a beacon. That beacon showed me a location with advanced alien life, the thrill of the unknown was everywhere. Monoliths taught me an alien language, my mind raced with possibilities of this, would I need to learn a certain amount of the language to be accepted into an alien faction.

The first alien encounter teaches the player how communication works, basically the alien will speak and some dialogue in an alien language will flash on the screen. The words you do know would be translated. Next to that is your character's thoughts written as if you were in a choose your own adventure novel. The writing would describe the scene “the alien growled at me and pointed at my gun. Do I let him see it?” Then a choice would appear and depending on what you choose you get a reward or nothing. The problem is the actual alien character is just sitting in place moving its lips, the scene it describes are just words. Still it was exciting and I enjoyed the riddle like structure of the alien conversations.

Once you get into space a whole new rush of excitement hit me. I saw giant starships in the distance, not knowing the controls of my ship yet I boosted right past them and ended up near a space station. Inside I finally found a store terminal where I could buy and sell resources and see the Galaxy economy at work with some items being worth more or less as shown by a percentage. But the best part was picking a planet and simply landing on it; all new life forms, new resources to find, new structures to explore. Then once I got enough hyperdrive fuel I got to open the Galaxy map and see the endless possibilities. A road map guides you if you want, I followed the set path at first with my crappy hyperdrive only allowing me to jump a few light years.

So the beginning is filled with good progress and actual discovery. Getting parts to upgrade means something as the initial progress is noticeable, especially upgrading the suit to hold more items. What struck me was how much resource gathering was a part of the game; there is always some bar counting down that needs refilling, so there is a ton of time spent in the menus. The menus are slow and clunky; but the worst part at first is how little space you have with no way of storing items for future use. Gathering resources consists of the player shooting a beam at rocks and watching them slowly break away, it's amazingly boring. If you disrupt the environment too much some sentinel drones will come and attack you leading to actual combat which is as basic as it comes, basically point and shoot till they die.

At around the 10 hour mark I landed in a system that had an atlas relic which is a strange space monolith and it started to give a backstory on the Galaxy and offered me a new path, basically a new quest. I felt like the game actually had direction, I was really enjoying myself. Sadly that didn't last long. I distinctly remember that moment as the last point where I thought NMS was a good game. After that the entire game collapses; imagine arriving in New York City but after a few hours you realize you are actually on a movie set pretending to be NYC where everything is empty, it's all an illusion.

By your tenth planet it should become apparent that everything is just repeating. We knew that this was a procedurally generated game so of course elements would repeat but what was promised and what was delivered are two different things entirely. I'm not even going to go deep into all the lies, which do disgust me, instead I will focus on what is in the game right now. Here is a game where exploration is key, discovery is key, and progression to the center is a supposed goal. To make that work there needs to be changes to what you can discover and see as you get closer to your goal. Forget the promises, just think of this from a game design standpoint, shouldn't a game with a proper progression curve have more rare resources, tougher planets and more challenging enemies closer to the end game. This game has none of that, they made a universe that has no rules and makes no sense at all.

When I say everything is random I mean it's random. Any system, regardless of how far it is from the center has the same chance to give you resources as any other. Every single planet has the exact same stupid bases, crashed ships, monoliths and labs. If you think your planet has something unique it's a damn lie, the planet is just an endless copy paste job where the only real variable is which rare resource is available. The only system in place that governs if you land on a more advanced system or not is the color of the sun you visit. The bluer the sun the more advanced a hyperdrive you need to reach it, it has nothing to do with distance, it's a simple key and lock mechanic. That blue star could be right next to the system you are in and if you don't have the proper hyperdrive you are not allowed to visit it. Those systems do have some unique resources... that is used for nearly NOTHING. I thought these locked systems would have something that would greatly speed up my progress, maybe even some new item or quest line. NOPE, nothing, same crap, just rarer and to be honest not worth the sell back money.

All the resources you actually need to stay alive are plentiful on every single planet. The resources needed to build nearly every upgrade including the major ones like a better warp drive are found regularly on any planet, it's just the luck of the draw if you find that particular element on that planet or not. So the game turns into an endless loop of landing on planets that are the same and shooting a piece of shit beam at rocks to get what you need to get to the next star system just to repeat again.

Oh and this notion of a galaxy wide trade system is also complete horse shit. Every star system has a space station and in that station the merchant will sell two or three items as a 100% mark up. Which items those are is completely random, there is no logic behind any of it. So there is no way to keep track of systems they may need a certain element because it's planets don't have them, nope that would be logical. None of the game systems work together, trading is as arbitrary as the random mess of limbs they stick together to make different species. That sucks because making money is a horribly slow process because gathering resources is super boring and your limited inventory makes hauling stuff around a pain. The fastest way I found to make money was to find a station that bought some common some craftable ship part for double the price, then run out into the hanger and talk to every alien ship that would show up and buy that part from them, then run back to the store room and repeat. That's not interesting, it's just time consuming.

Everything else on the planets is fucking pointless. Exploring for bases, why should you  it's the same three aliens sitting on their ass doing nothing but offering you some piece of shit upgrade you probably grabbed 10 hours ago. Learning the language through monoliths, for what, so you can read a canned response for the millionth time? Those stupid riddles repeat too. Finding new species becomes tedious as well, oh look at that, this planet has a t rex with a penis for a head, the last planet has ass for hands, who fucking gives shit. No one is going to find your planet, no one will care that you named every thing on a planet using Game of Throne puns. The damn truth is THERE IS NOTHING INTERESTING TO FIND ON ANY PLANET. And once you realize that everything comes crashing down, there is no foundation because the entire point of the game is to discover new things on planets. Well guess what you did that already when you landed on the first few planets. That's it, that's the whole game.

Space is even worse. I envisioned this massive galaxy to explore, something that resembles a galaxy, or even a solar system. I expected to find solar systems where there are no life, planets that are truly uninhabitable Planets where something as rudimentary as distance from the sun has some sort of significance. Nope, space is the biggest illusion of all. It is nothing but a tiny hub with X number of planets all bunched together, a space station or two and a sun off in the distance that you can't fly too because of invisible walls. There is no actual solar system, no orbits, no asteroid belts, no real distance, no real size difference, it's just empty space and a few planets that you point at and jump to. When you go to another galaxy the planets shift and the color of the space changes, that's it. This “space exploration” game utterly fails at giving you something that even closely resembles space. This notion that just because they managed to have 15 quintillion stars to explore this game should be praised is asinine. It is the most simple of cut and paste jobs I have ever seen. Even if it is a programming feat of some kind, I don't care, I am not a programming enthusiast. I am a gaming enthusiast, how great your code is means nothing to me if the game sucks.

One of the few activities resembling fun is getting into space battles, which is quickly ruined by realizing it's a fight with the same kind of fighter ship and freighter over and over again… yay. Wow I almost forgot the absurd way the game handles recharging shields in space combat, you have to go into your inventory which does not pause the game, it covers the entire screen. Then you have to choose the shield icon, press to refill it, choose the element you want to refill it with, then close the menu to resume control. What, I don’t even understand how that even got into an alpha build of a game. Combat in general has no depth to it at all. There are no ship classes, you can't get a fighter class with better weapons, every ship no matter what they look like is an empty shell for you to build on. Another game system that upon inspection has zero depth.

No Man’s Sky is a lock for most disappointing game of the year; we saw the potential in the early trailers. The first few hours show that this foundation could be fun and interesting when there is actual pay off. I love the look of the game (it has simple graphics but the colors are so great) and  the music is fantastic. It controls well; it is  a fine game mechanically. The act of hopping into a ship and leaving a planet is extremely neat. The skeleton, which is all this game really is, does work. This game could be really good. Right now though it is not, this is a bad game exacerbated by the fact that the developers actively lied to us and they charged $60 for it. To top it all off the game is glitchy and crashes repeatedly. No Man’s Sky s a repetitive boring game where all the game systems fall flat as soon as you realize they have no depth whatsoever.

Posted by Dvader Fri, 26 Aug 2016 23:19:00
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Sat, 27 Aug 2016 10:57:55
I definitely wasted $60 on this one.
Its a cool experiment, but that's as far as it got and I doubt I will go back to it unless I completely run out of games to play....yeah right.
Sat, 27 Aug 2016 11:21:16
Damn son, should have bought XCX. I read through this review just thinking, wtf. Sounds bad.
Sat, 27 Aug 2016 13:09:33
I don't want to admit it but I wasted $60 on this as well. Right now, I'm looking to finishing it soon then selling it to reserve something else.  
Sat, 27 Aug 2016 14:55:48
Sat, 27 Aug 2016 15:17:46
No thanks!  I barely have any time to play NMS so I don't see myself getting anywhere with that game.
Sat, 27 Aug 2016 16:12:01
GameStop is already getting flooded with copies of this game. If you're not actually enjoying it I say get rid of it today before the price starts to drop any further.
Sat, 27 Aug 2016 18:05:24
Best buy has double trade in, I am getting $32 for it today.
Sat, 27 Aug 2016 19:01:07
I always like to finish games before I trade them in so I'll probably wait.
Sat, 27 Aug 2016 19:52:02
I never trade games in unless they're terrible or I didn't sell them.

The only games I ever sold were Red Steel and Spyro Orange: The Cortex Conspiracy.

I sold Tony Hawk: Project 8 but I didn't really want to sell it. I liked it but my brother sold it because he said I didn't play it anymore.
Sat, 27 Aug 2016 20:37:32
I use to trade in my games all the time but I always regretted it later on when the urge to play some of them again would hit me. During last gen I decided to just hang on to them and it's quite nice to have a sizeable collection now.
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