5 Lives Studios is a new developer with a lot to prove, and with Satellite Reign, they look to prove that a studio consisting of only 5 people can come together and make a game that lives up to the name of its spiritual predecessor, Syndicate Wars. This might be a little unnerving for some, but fret not, the team behind Satellite Reign consists of some of the minds who worked on the Syndicate series itself, as well as GTA IV, Darksiders II, Star Wars, and L.A. Noire. Satellite Reign is a cyberpunk class based strategy game, set in a world where the government is run by massive corporations, and it seems like the only people who matter are those who have more money than they’ll ever need.
This is a city filled with corruption and greed, and it’s up to the players to take advantage of that. You can take over the very corporations that control the government and take control for yourself. You can drive them into the ground and rise above the shattered remains of your enemies, or drive the people of the city to take power into their own hands. Every situation, encounter, and outcome is determined by the choices that you’ll make. The game starts out with players controlling only 3 of their four characters, the hacker, assassin, and support class characters.
In –what you’ll probably choose as- the first mission players have to rescue their soldier, the fourth member of their party, the main damage dealer. To get to him, players have to enter a police station guarded by officers of the law (one or two of whom might be persuaded to turn a blind eye for the right price). On top of that, the facility is blocked off by multiple security gates and cameras.
Often times, choosing between a pacifist role, and a more aggressive, warmongering role is an easy decision, and players find that fighting things head on is often easier than avoiding conflict altogether. In Satellite Reign, you’ll find that either way of play can have its own effects on game-play. For instance – you can fight your way in, if that’s your thing, but without your soldier at the helm, it’s going to be a tooth-and-nail fight for survival, and on top of that, police officers can radio in for help.
On the other hand you might be the kind to look for a back door, shut down the cameras, and hack into the gates. This means that you’ll have to have to plan ahead and have impeccable timing, because shutting down electronics is only temporary, gates will lock back up, and if you’re sighted by a reactivated camera, you’re going to be in for a fight. You can also shoot the cameras down…if you’re quick enough.
In either scenario, you’ve got your risks and rewards. You can even run from fighting, but keep in mind that you’ll have heat on you, and you’ll have to avoid cameras and officers all throughout the city.
It’s probably good to mention here that it isn’t actually required for you to save the soldier, as missions have many different methods of completion (though it’s probably the best idea). The game isn’t too big on hand-holding either. While there wasn’t a tutorial available, it can be assumed that when one is, it’ll probably be pretty basic; after all, this game is all about the choices the players make, and this means that a tutorial can only go so far. It can’t be anticipated what players will do. There are no objectives given, only choices.
The biggest thing that stands out in Satellite Reign is its depth. Players will rarely see the same encounters or instances, because everything in this game influenced by the way you play. This includes vehicles, upgrades, weapons, and even mission choices later on. Apart from the government, players will also have to deal with factions, which each have their own objectives, strengths, and weaknesses.
Players can find weapons and equipment throughout their exploits and it’s up to them to decide whether or not to use them right away, or send them off to be researched. Using a prototype item right away though means that a character can die with it, and that prototype will be lost until another one is found.
Since the game changes depending on the gameplay choices of the player, it offers a tremendous amount of replay-ability. This is truly a living city, and life continues on, regardless of whether or not you influence it…keeping this in mind, it helps to know that you can. It’s a good thing too, because this build of the game has been plagued with save/load issues, and while it is frustrating to lose progress, players aren’t forced to do the same missions in the same order, or even the same way as they had done them before.
Something for players to keep in mind; everything talked about here is representative of a pre-alpha build and this means that things could easily change for the better or the worse. This being said, an alpha this big has only built my anticipation for the full release.