Space Station Sprint had me intrigued. The concept is great: blast your way through a number of space stations, killing enemies and completing objectives as you go. Unfortunately, the execution is somewhat lacking.
Upon booting up Space Station Sprint I encountered a bug: pressing down on the directional pad does not work. What’s worse, if I’ve used the analog sticks to traverse the menus, pressing down will go up. A small bug, granted, but one that is so obvious to the player and brings the quality shooting back down to Earth. This doesn’t bode well for the rest of the game.
You won’t find any sort of campaign here. Instead, the player is moved through a series of levels which sees them infiltrating an enemy space station in order to complete some kind of objective. Once this is done, you get back to your ship and it’s onto the next one. That’s not to say that this is bad of course, it’s not. It’s a good way of getting players moving through the game, but there’s no lore here, if that’s your thing.
Speaking of objectives, let’s take a look at the missions themselves. You start in a room and a countdown will appear on-screen. This counts down from 3 and once it hits 0, you are free to blitz your way through the station in order to find the objective. You are timed on these missions, roughly around 60 seconds for each one, but there is a little bit of variety here depending on which mission you are doing.
Objectives aren’t very inspired and work the same way. You need to find the objective item – this is a purple screen of sorts, attached to a wall or a desk or some other location and you simply need to find it and recover it. Once you’ve recovered it, you need to get back to the starting room – finding the objective itself isn’t enough. Found the item but only have 2 seconds to spare? Bad luck I’m afraid.
There are ways you can expand the time available. Shooting enemy communication towers will add a number of seconds onto your current time, for example +5 seconds, which can make all the difference. You can find a number of these scattered throughout missions, so it’s always worth keeping an eye out.
As mentioned, these work in exactly the same way no matter which mission you are doing. One mission may have you ‘stealing the launch codes’ and on another you may have to ‘find the plans’ but this is simply the text that appears on your HUD. The item itself remains unchanged.
One thing to consider is that there are no colour blind settings within the options, so if you have difficulty making out one colour from the next, you may have a hard time finding the level’s objective in the first place.
The HUD is simple. You’ve essentially got your health in the bottom corner, your objective in the top corner and your weapon front-and-centre. Your weapon is where you will also see your ammo count, as well as your ability cooldown – something we’ll dive into next. There’s no minimap or compass to be seen so expect no help when it comes to finding objectives.
Moving onto abilities. You get two that you can use to help as you sprint through each level. You get a bomb, usable by pressing LB. This ability, as you may have guessed, will allow you to throw a bomb down, blasting enemies. It can be a lifesaver if you are cornered or outnumbered. The second ability is Shockwave, activated by RB and this allows you to send out a sonic wave, pushing enemies back and dealing damage.
Each ability has a cooldown of a few seconds, both of which can be found on your gun, under your ammo count. It’s a nice way to gather and show immediate information to the player. It’s a bit of a shame that abilities can’t be upgraded but it’s nice to have them available anyway.
The space stations themselves are filled with a number of different enemies and challenges that you need to overcome. In the corner of the enemies, you’ll encounter a number of different aliens. You’ve got your base alien that will chase and shoot at you, a more powerful powered-up version and a melee variant that will deal some serious damage. As you progress through Space Station Sprint, you’ll encounter more and more of these aliens. When it comes to challenges, there’s drones, turrets and lazers to avoid.
The game also features a number of upgrades and collectables to find during each level. Collectables don’t really do anything, they’re just fun things to find. They give players a reason to explore every nook and cranny (as long as you have enough time) of a particular level. Upgrades, however, can have a huge impact on your success rate as you progress through the game.
Upgrades come in many shapes and sizes. There’s an upgrade for your firing speed, one for your max capacity and another one for your sprint speed. These are just a few examples, of course, there are loads and loads of upgrades to collect. Upgrades are permanent and will stick with you for the rest of Space Station Sprint. However, finding an upgrade isn’t enough. Just like the main objective, you need to get back to the starting level and complete the mission for the upgrade to be counted. If you fail the mission, you’ll lose the upgrade and will have to collect it again.
There’s also another aspect of the game: slow motion. You are able to slow down time, which can give you the opportunity of getting more headshots, taking down a row of enemies or having the opportunity to get out of the way of danger. It’s worth noting though that slow motion only impacts the entities within Space Station Sprint itself (the player, enemies etc), it won’t slow down the mission timer, so you need to weigh up the pros and cons of triggering it.
The levels themselves feel somewhat uninspired. A series of corridors and rooms can start to feel repetitive after a while and the graphics themselves aren’t amazing. Basic environment pieces have been used here and there’s no exciting art style. There is variety in the sense that one mission sees you running through a flight deck and another on the outside of a space station, but it just feels bland.
Apart from the strange bug with the directional pad, I also encountered a number of other issues. Settings aren’t saved between sessions so you’ll have to readjust your aim sensitivity etc. every time you boot up the game.
I also encountered weird audio overlapping issues where pressing reload would spam the reload sound bite or entering into a large room of enemies would be an attack on the senses as SFX overlapped and just seemed to muddle with each other.
You’d also imagine that booting up the game would continue from where you left off. If I made it to level 4 for example, I would expect to start from there. However, when I loaded up the game for another session I was immediately put into the tutorial and it wasn’t until I quit and went back to the main menu that I was able to select level 4. Very bizarre.
All in all, Space Station Sprint is lacking polish and feels like something in early access. There’s a number of bugs here and the simple gameplay can leave you feeling bored after an hour or two of playing. With missions being essentially the same throughout, there’s no real sense of accomplishment. It’ll tide you over for a bit, but don’t go in expecting anything more than that.
Take in a Space Station Sprint by hitting up the Xbox Store