One of the most intriguing games at Ubisoft’s E3 press conference last year was Starlink: Battle for Atlas. The introduction of a new game in the toys-to-life genre seemed like a crazy move when all the big players in the arena were shutting down. Fortunately, this is a title that skews a little differently from those games. Starlink: Battle for Atlas is aimed at a slightly older audience than games like Skylanders and Disney Infinity. This isn’t a mature game by any means, but it is aimed at a very early teen audience, though as a man in my 30s I also enjoyed it.
The basic idea of the game is that you have various pieces that you can attach to a frame on your controller. There’s a character piece that you attach first which is then surrounded by your choice of craft. You can then add weapons to the craft. One of the Ubisoft reps showed me how you could actually take the wings of one of the ships and replace them with the wings of the other that was available. You could also put one of the weapons on the wrong way around, and it would allow you to shoot behind you. The technology seems to be clever in all the right ways, and the design & manufacture of these items seems to be top notch. My only issue was that it can be a little tricky to find the fixing positions for the character and the ship on the peripheral that attaches to your controller. Even the Ubisoft reps hadn’t quite gotten the hang of it yet.
Cool peripherals and nicely designed pieces would be worthless though if the game wasn’t any good. I can’t really comment on the story of the game as it was so loud in the hall that I missed 60% of what I was being told. I did recognise the familiar display of a location marker which I swiftly headed towards. I was soon on an alien planet with fauna, geographical features, and indigenous wildlife. The art design is quite stylised, think how No Man’s Sky would look if it was made by Nintendo. It works nicely though and fits the feel of the game perfectly. I was directed to an area where I had to take out some enemies that shot at me trying to freeze me. When they did manage to freeze me, I pressed ‘A’ repeatedly to free myself. With a chain gun on my right trigger and rockets on my left, I laid waste to my foes and then moved over to the area that they were protecting. These were three big towers with a glowing red section to them. Of course, to all gamers, this means that this is the section that you have to introduce to your weaponry.
As the demo went on, I came up against a large moving enemy. This ‘Arch Prime’ had toughened skin so it could only be hurt in certain areas (which, surprise-surprise, glowed red). This fight took around 5 minutes, took place over a couple of different areas (as the creature moved), and felt suitably dramatic. With different enemies, bullets crossing forwards and backwards, as well as various particle effects, the screen was quite busy. On a couple of occasions, the frame-rate slowed a little and fully chugged at points, this was near the end though when there is stuff going on all around you.
Once the ‘Arch Prime’ was eliminated, I was told that it was the end of my time. I had a blast playing the game, and it’s definitely the type of game that has to get past the negative connotations of the toys-to-life genre, but if you can do that, then this is a game that a lot of people could enjoy. If they can produce the toys/peripherals at an appropriate price, then this game could garner quite the following.