Stellar Wars: A Stellar End to a Trilogy
The third installment in a series is always a good time to really try to shake things up a bit, and that’s exactly what Stellar Wars does. The second game in the series, Monster Wars, kept the same setting and tasked the player with guiding the enemy forces. This made for a fun twist that kept close enough to the original concept to satisfy those who simply wanted another helping of what they enjoyed in Legendary Wars. You could see what it was like to have the bad guys from the original game as your allies, and what it was like to battle your one-time teammates. A fun trick, but one that really could only be effective once.
Stellar Wars offers up the familiar core mechanics seen in the first two games. Collect resources, deploy units, and guide them towards the enemy forces and their base. Use the spoils of victory to upgrade your units as you see fit, and slowly build up a diverse team as you make your way through the campaign. It works as well here as it ever did, getting you invested in building up your team the way you want while offering fun, action-packed strategic battles. It’s astounding that such a relatively simple-to-understand take on the strategy game concept can be so compelling.
Where Stellar Wars flips the script is with its entirely new setting and characters. Fantasy is traded for space-faring science-fiction. You won’t be running into monster or elves, but instead will have to make way for aliens and robots. While that could have turned out to be a simple switch in cosmetics, it instead forces you to create all-new strategies as you deal with a very different set of abilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Instead of trudging your way around a map of a continent, you’re moving from planet to planet, encountering new threats and circumstances as you go.
It’s in that planet-hopping that the main new gameplay element comes into play. You travel the stars in your trusty Stellar Fighter in segments that offer some light shoot-em-up action. You can upgrade your Stellar Fighter just as you can upgrade your various units, making it stronger and more capable of surviving these often-treacherous journeys. It’s a fun diversion from the main gameplay, an element that in and of itself is characteristic of the Wars trilogy. Where many other games would be quick to say that certain ideas don’t go well together, the Wars games try it anyway to delightful results.
That said, you’re probably coming to the games for the real-time strategy component, and Stellar Wars certainly doesn’t disappoint there. With more than 50 stages in the main campaign, you’ll get your fill of tense battles where wits and quick thinking win the day. Building up your army is just as satisfying here as it was in the previous games, and thanks to how many new elements there are, there’s a freshness to Stellar Wars that helps it shine even brighter. It’s a brilliant close to the Wars trilogy, and one you’ll want to set aside plenty of time to enjoy.