Initially launched into Steam Early Access in April of 2015, Kerbal Space Program quickly grew a large following on PC with its trial by error, undeniable cuteness, and active mod-making fanbase. If you ever found yourself sat at home dreaming of what life working for NASA would actually be like, becoming a real-life rocket scientist, building ships to successfully shoot astronauts into space, Squads friendly yet educational space simulation title allows you to dream no more. Departing Early Access last year, Kerbal Space Program has now firmly crash landed onto the current generation consoles, allowing players the opportunity to build and construct rockets fit to leave for space or in my case not, on so, so many different occasions.
Kerbal Space Program: Xbox One [Reviewed], PlayStation 4, PC
Publisher: Deported V.B.
Release Date: 15 July 2016
Price: £31.99 [Disclosure: Game Copy Provided by Publisher]
Too much trial and error can often see players depart from their sanity, shatter the odd controller of three, or if you’re like me, simply walk away beaten, dejected and downtrodden, thankfully, Kerbal Space Program isn’t one such game. With Sandbox, Science, Scenarios, and Career modes, Kerbal Space Program offers players a variety of ways to experience the game with less frustration, while teaching you about physics and space travel. Of course, building a rocket fit to travel into space will leave players scratching their heads at times (it’s a given), but it’s from the many, many failings that make a successful launch so rewarding. In fact, once you have Kerbal‘s code figured out, once you know what goes where and what parts you’re missing to prevent your rocket from exploding or an engine falling away mid launch and provided you have a perfectly operational controller left, you’ll spend many a moment gazing in awe as your rocket shoots off safely into the sky, its a thing of beauty.
Sporting haircuts only your mother would approve of are the games loveable, clueless but incredibly charming characters, a team of green astronauts and scientists of both genders that will assist you in your journey to becoming a rocket scientist. From constructing your spacecraft to placing every piece before eventually piloting the rocket into space, these loveable guys are with you the whole way. With a somewhat complicated U.I, it’s best to begin life with the tutorials, making the bold move straight into Career mode might very well break you before you’ve had the chance to come up with a bad Apollo 13 joke. While its text is on the small side, the tutorial is thorough and will see players building a small rocket capable of comfortably entering space, but nothing too spectacular. Kerbal Space Program‘s step-by-step tutorial is a great introduction to what can be an extremely complex game and a fine way to learn about the games many intricacies before venturing out into the real world to become a fully fledged rocket builder extraordinaire.
Budding scientists looking to make gradual steps on their journey can continue to do so with the games Sandbox mode, a mode that allows players to construct whatever they wish without the restriction that might come from Career mode. With all rocket parts readily available and no financial restraints to speak of, Sandbox mode allows players the freedom to construct a rocket with no limit. I spent many hours constructing the most bizarre rockets you’re ever likely to see, the vast majority of which wouldn’t survive 2 seconds after launch and the ones that manage to leave the ground often had parts fall off it before plummeting back to the ground with a crash. Experimentation is a rule of thumb with Kerbal Space Program, rockets don’t have to work for the game to be fun, keeping players both entertained whilst avoiding any lingering frustration.
While Science mode requires players to perform research and Scenario mode is pretty self-explanatory with missions to undertake once you know the basics, the real challenge remains within Career mode. Equipped with a better understanding of what’s required to build a successful rocket, Career Mode offers players more depth and the chance to step out on their own, but it comes with the expected restrictions and requires more patience than Sandbox mode. Money must be managed carefully but can be earned through the completion of various challenges, getting gradually better the more players progress. Parts are extremely limited in Career, making selection during a build all the more important and pivotal. Career mode requires players to invest a large amount of time but it is also the mode that leaves players with a real sense of accomplishment. Balancing everything to get the most out of the experience is tricky but once you grasp all of the elements, learning to upgrade, etc it’s a real joy to experience.
A successful launch doesn’t just come down to inserting the right components, ensuring sure that every piece of the jigsaw fits in place, it is also about control post launch. After a rocket departs players must control the ship with great precision and can do so in a variety of different ways. As the rocket propels itself up and out of the atmosphere the option to pitch, yaw and roll are available to keep your rocket on course. Stepping off course, pitching too far in one direction might compromise your re-entry with disastrous results. Provided they are attached to your construction before departing, parachutes can slow down the rockets descent upon impact, preventing an unnecessary death.
Visually, Kerbal Space Program won’t win any awards, it’s not the greatest port ever to grace the modern day consoles with drained colour, visuals and minimal sound effects but in all fairness the games graphics are secondary, taking a backseat to its primary values – education. With a wealth of simulation games on today’s market, it’s refreshing to find one that relies on learning as its main core, seeking to teach players about life as a rocket scientist. You’ll learn the bounds of physics, about space travel and for that very reason alone KPS should be adored, revered not diminished because it doesn’t reach the expectations of many with its somewhat dull visuals.
Kerbal Space Program provides both entertainment and education. Offering players the chance to live out the dream of becoming a rocket scientist without the certain impending lawsuit from the many, many explosions after an unsuccessful launch. Undoubtedly, Kerbal Space Program is a complicated beast to understand but the tutorials offer great insight into the games mechanics and its many modes give you the chance to put those practices to the test. It’s easy to see why the game is such a success on PC and it fits well with the current generation console, even if its visuals don’t. The motto for KSP is simple, if at first, you don’t succeed, try, try, try and try again.