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Astronaut Spacewalk Review

By Dave Flodine, on July 18, 2012


Astronaut Spacewalk
Download on the AppStore
Rating

PROS

  • Immersive presentation with the Earth before you and the sound of Mission Control in your ear.
  • Who hasn't wanted an opportunity to feel what it's like to spacewalk?

CONS

  • Overload on the user interface.
  • Extreme patience or a long feeling out process is needed to learn the controls.

VERDICT

An amazing concept for a game that immerses you in its vision, but there's a high barrier to entry learning how to control your space-walking astronaut.


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While fascination with space has waned in the popular consciousness for a while, who can say they've never fantasized about being an astronaut? Being able to either jump around on the moon, or simply to spacewalk amongst the stars, with our big blue planet orbiting within your vision. Astronaut Spacewalk fulfills this fantasy by immersing you visually and aurally in the suit of an astronaut as you use your propulsion system to move along satellites and space stations. It's an immensely authentic and rewarding experience, provided you have the patience to work out the complex user interface and control system.

The user interface is laid over the entirety of the screen intro twenty-four different button sections. The two radars are top middle, while a reset position button is top left and a precision control button is top right. Controlling your astronaut is accomplished by the eighteen other sections, divided into three areas two across, and three down. The first section is standard movement, which will move you forward, back, up, down, left, and right. On the right are more complex controls for pitch, roll, and yaw. Yaw will rotate the astronaut left and right horizontally, pitch will rotate him vertically, and rolling will spin him left and right in a vertical position. Finally the middle section of the screen contains the camera controls which can move up, down, left, and right, pause the game, or reset the camera position. The user manual explains this in decent detail, but once the game begins, you realise that knowing the mechanics of space-walking, and actually doing it are two entirely different things.

First off, moving towards the specified waypoints is an exercise of small movements. Each jet of air upon a button press will set you off, and as there is no friction in the vacuum of space, changing orientation and direction can be a difficult feat, especially if you're still experimenting with the controls trying in vain to make it to the first waypoint of the first mission. The null button comes in really handy to stop you in your tracks, but excessive use of this feature will deplete your fuel and electricity reserves. Just like one could imagine performing these tasks in real life, success takes an unbelievable amount of understanding of the systems involved, as well as patience.

If you have these qualities however, Astronaut Spacewalk will reward you. Even flying around with absolutely no control, the first time you see Earth come into view, suddenly all your problems don't seem so important. The constant chatter from mission control rounds out the experience, and if nothing else, this game succeeds at reminding us about all the frontiers we have left to explore, and both the risk and reward of doing so.

Screenshots

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