Disappointment of the Year 2015: Sid Meier's Starships

By Zac Belado 16 Dec 2015 0
Who are you, and what have you done with Sid Meier? Who are you, and what have you done with Sid Meier?

The dictionary is often an excellent place to help focus one's intent when writing. Webster's defines disappointment as: "someone or something that fails to satisfy hopes or expectations ". The Internet is more succinct and defines disappointment as "meh". Years ago, far too many to recount accurately, I spent a significant amount of time playing games with Civilization in the title. We all must have done so since the Google search for the word 'civilization' actually results (for me at least) in a list of references to that series of games. So to have to write a short article describing a Sid Meier game as the Disappointment of 2015 is as close as this atheist can come to heresy. And yet this is where we find ourselves: living in a world where 2K Games can release Sid Meier's Starships and ultimately no-one cares.

If anyone else had released Sid Meier's Starships it wouldn't have been nearly as disappointing. It might also have had a different name if only to limit confusion and potential legal action. It may have also not had the overly indifferent reception which it received. This is the core of the problem with Sid Meier's Starships. It is not a bad game, though it might be lacking in depth and may have a combat system that didn't quite deliver. As it was, it would have been fun. For a while, at least.

Adding Sid Meier's name, and development skills, to the project brought along a rather extensive set of expectations that the game never came close to matching. It didn't help that 2K Games' marketing material harkened back to classic Meier titles, either. You can't tell people that there is a new game coming from the mind that brought Civilization to the world and then half-bake a release expecting people to have their expectations met.

Maybe the scope wasn't grand enough? Perhaps the design specs called for a more casual game? Maybe Sid is actually dead and frozen, Disney-like, in some suburban San Jose Pottery Barn outlet basement? Whatever the cause, 2K released a title that may have matched their own internal expectations but certainly didn't meet what consumers, or fans of Sid Meier, wanted.

In his review for the game Owen said that it was a game no-one would hate and that no-one would love. I would go slightly further and say that it was a title that no-one would want to play twice. This isn't something that anyone should say of a game with Sid Meier in the title.

To see all of the games recognized in the Pocket Tactics Best of 2015 Awards, visit the 2015 Awards Index page.
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