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PSN Review – StarDrone

April 15, 2011Written by Sebastian Moss

After a successful release on the PC, Orb Games’ StarDrone has now come to the PlayStation 3, under development from Beatshapers. A mixture of Arkanoid and Pinball, the title came with day one Move support, and will have 3D support in the near future. While the game was relatively well received on the PC, can it stack up to the tough competition in the PlayStation Network?

The concept behind StarDrone is simple: you shoot a drone off in a certain direction and then try to manipulate its course around obstacles and threats, while trying to reach keys and other prizes in what seems like an intergalactic take on Pinball. You cannot control the drone’s path directly, and instead use other objects that pull the drone towards them. As the game progresses, the formula becomes harder and harder and, what were simple manoeuvres before, end up requiring the utmost care.

The largest threat in the game is simply just drifting off into deep space, but enemies, spikes and bombs act as devilishly placed perils that impede your progress. Most levels are completable after the first few tries and, while you may occasionally become stuck, the game is clearly aimed at encouraging players to replay levels to achieve a high score.

Unfortunately, while there is some variety in level layout and the various barriers and adversaries found in missions, gameplay can become stale and repetitive. Many of the levels are incredibly alike, with little diversity in the design. Generally, there is no room for freedom in the way you approach each level, and it can feel like you are simply going through the motions, rather than being able to explore the game.

Set in space, the title’s backdrop can be absolutely beautiful, and Orb Games have done a remarkable job at keeping the visuals fresh despite the number of levels. That said, some levels do seem rather similar and the background could be virtually identical. While 3D TV support may be on the horizon, the actual game is very 2D, with little in the way of 3D objects.

Optional Move support is a welcome bonus, but most gamers will not use it after the first try. Imprecise and unclear, controlling with the Move is far less enjoyable than with the traditional DualShock. While the fact that the game was originally a mouse based game, it doesn’t seem to have translated to the Move as well as some might have hoped.

While StarDrone is enjoyable at first, it quickly becomes repetitive and tedious. Level design seems to actively encourage gamers to replay levels to unlock high scores, but the linear puzzle elements and simple levels make replaying levels unappealing. If  you are looking for something quick and easy to play in short bursts, StarDrone may appeal to you, but when compared to the deeper, richer experiences of other puzzle games on the PlayStation Network, it just doesn’t quite match up.

PlayStation LifeStyle’s Final Score

+ Enjoyable premise

– Lack of variety in levels

– Move control is unnecessary

7 out of 10