There comes a time where, by chance, luck or a blind quirk of universal powers, that you come across something so incredible, so perfect, so indescribably amazing that it sticks in your mind like a shining beacon of hope. It sets not just an example, not just a standard, but a ‘Home’ point in your mind that instinctually pops up in your head every time you even come close to thinking about it.
Brainiacs, today it is my great pleasure to bring you one of the greatest base building games of all time.
When diamonds fall into your lap
Allow me to paint a picture for you, dear Brainiac. Though it may be hard to believe, especially with the prevalence of high speed broadband and, pre-dating that, dial up. Not everyone has an internet connection. I used to number among these people. My world consisted entirely of the four walls of my sweltering bedroom and the discs I could push into my old 360. Xbox live was a foreign concept to me, not being able to download games, watch movies or play with other people unless they were sitting next to me. I simply had no way of accessing the vast libraries stored in the elaborate web of servers and routers that make up the backbone of our modern day society. So imagine my confusion when, after preening the feathers of the parental units sufficiently, a game which I had so badly wanted at the time, would come with an extra gold bar stuffed between the green plastic covers.
For some promotion or another, I was handed a disc that promised ten of the best xbla titles, free of charge. I remember being incredulous, almost dismissing it off hand, until my curiosity got the better of me. And amidst the feeding frenzy trial or the marble rolling simulators, I discovered one of my all time favorite games for that generation.
Setting the standard, all the standards
When you launch the game (available directly or at Amazon) you are immediately sucked in by it’s sheer style and personality. The soundtrack is upbeat and perfectly suits the rest of the game incredibly well. The graphics are cartoony and reminiscent of a cell shaded toybox. In fact, the whole game is just dripping with a child-like glee that is infectious. The designs of the stations and the aliens and their ships. Every race has a preference for one or more of the services you can provide, and the spacecrafts they pilot are unique to their given aesthetic, with a few variations per species. Just to name a few, you have the intergalactic truckers that drive big Mac trucks and hotrods. The fish people in their angler fish-esk ships that give off bubbles as their exhaust, and even our fellow Brainiacs make an appearance with their 1950’s rocket ship designs and love of science.
Every little detail is accounted for. The space hippies have engines that sound like a chorus of birds as they fly past the camera. Every station has their own unique maintenance bots you can see flying around fixing your installations. You can even set which virtual games you have playing in your arcade or if you want a jukebox or wall to wall neon in your diner. It is hard to describe the level of detail at a granular level until you just jump in and experience it.
Outpost Kaloki sets the standard of what base building games can be, what xbla games should strive to be, and the kind of hidden treasure I’ll be bringing to you for your enjoyment.
Great, but how does it PLAY
This is a game that controls beautifully on a game pad and revolves around, you guessed it, building and managing your own space station. You start with a station with a set number of ports (or hardpoints) that you can attach a single building to at any given time. There are eight (or more depending on the mode) types of buildings, each catering to a specific need of your customers.
There are giant test tubes and space museums for the science category, arcades, roller rinks and dance clubs for the social category, gardens, parks, lakes and zoos for the nature category, and so on. Whenever you build one of these buildings, you unlock the next teir for that category. Though sometimes they will have other requirements. Such as the restaurant in the social category also requires a herb garden from the nature category to have been built on your station.
All of your attachments cost money, which you must collect by meeting the particular needs of whichever aliens happen to be visiting at the time. Each attachment also requires power, for which you must build generators. The more advanced the structure, the more power it will require. The more advanced the generator, the more expensive it will be. Not to mention the attachments also degrade over time, so you will need to build a janitors closet or hangar bay for your maintenance bots.
You can also change the output and pricing of your attachments. The better quality goods will attract more customers, but setting higher prices will make them less appealing. You can push your generators to crank out much more power if you’re in a pinch, but they will degrade much faster.
The gameplay and management is quite involved, but is still easy to understand. It almost feels ‘lite’ as you play and gain a handle on it. Outpost Kaloki would be the perfect game to get new players into base building games and showing them what you enjoy about it so much. You will lose yourself, just like I did, in creating the perfect station for you (my arcade was always playing ‘void war’ because it sounded the coolest and I always had a skating rink and taught my spies how to use lasers rather than kung-fu, and you can change this to whichever are your favorites to!)
If you play one game on my recommendation, make it this one
With two separate story campaigns, dozens of scenario and challenge missions, free form sandbox play and additional DLC, with a sheer, lovable style that distinguishes itself from the competition. Outpost Kaloki X is the game that instinctually pops into my head when I think about bringing forward the diamonds in the rough to all of you Brainiacs. It pains me that it is so difficult to get on PC. Though it is still available on xbox live on your 360, or you can grab the very disk I discovered it on here. This is a true joy to play and I implor you to not let this one slip by. Please, check it out here, and let me know what you think.