Blockade Runner - The Final Frontier
There is no question that Blockade Runner takes inspirations from Mojang's smash hit Minecraft - developer ZANMGT even makes a mention and thank-you to Notch in the official description for their still in development title. However from the first second you blast off into the unknown, you are immediately overwhelmed with the amount of potential that the final release could bring to the table.
Blockade Runner as it stands right now thrusts you into a randomly generated "space" where you can build up any type of spacecraft you can think of, pilot it and explore your surroundings. While there may not be much to do in terms of exploring just yet, the building is where you'll find most of the excitement.
Hitting Tab will bring up a block selector which range from steel exteriors through to blue carpet, thrusters, cores and even plasma cannons. Our first attempts at making some space shuttles looked about as detailed as fighters from the original Wing Commander but slowly but surely we started to come to grips with our creativity.
That's when things started to get interesting as my mind started racing at the thought of re-creating a functional model of a Star Destroyer, or even some kind of X-Wing. The thought of racing around in a Milennium Falcon and taking out my friends with some well placed Plasma Cannon shots definitely brings a smile to my face.
The interior of a ship
The release schedule of the game is a little different from most - $10 will score you access to the live alpha that is updated on a weekly basis. This is for what they are calling Release 1, which will be focusing on starships and their operations and will wrap up sometime in 2012. That's when Release 2 will start - another 12 month development cycle that will work to add in new elements to the gameplay mechanics established in the first release. Those who purchased R1 will get a heavy discount if they choose to purchase R2, but if you decide not to purchase the next release you will always be able to play the final release of your purchase bracket. It's interesting, some people support the method, others aren't so accepting but in the end $10 for a game is a decent price to pay by my books.
What are the developers planning for the future? Multiplayer is definitely high on the agenda, followed by intersolar space travel and the ability to land on and explore new planets. Imagine the building abilities of Minecraft mixed with the resource gathering and trading of EVE and we could have one of the best space titles since the days of Privateer.
It's basic at the moment but Blockade Runner is extremely enjoyable, and the future looks bright for this upcoming indie title.
By Stephen Heller
Want to learn more? Check out our Blockade Runner discussion!