Squad, an Indie game developer has released, in my opinion, the best Rocket Space Program ever.
Failure is ALWAYS an option with Kerbal Space Program. You can spend an hour easily designing a rocket that you think will take you into orbit only to find out that your “new” & “improved” rocket blows up on the launch pad. Some may find the trial and error part of this game more frustrating than anything else, but watching these things blow up or watching your booster rockets launch while the rest of your ship collapses in on itself on the launch, I find hilarious.
Kerbal Space Program is still currently in Beta phase. The current release of the game is version 0.20.2.186. Squad has announced that with every new update the price of the game will increase slightly until it reaches a “retail” price point. If you purchase now, all future updates are free, so getting this early you will receive a better deal in the long run. Every update brings new and improved stuff with it, from a better physics engine to more ship and plane parts. It is your basic, Build a Space Program from scratch type of game. There is currently only Sandbox mode available and from recent posts it looks like the Career mode is going to be available in the next update.
You start with a wide array of options, from Booster Rockets to Fuel Tanks. S.A.S Modules, that act kinda like auto pilot – allowing you to be able to keep a steady direction heading when taking off or making maneuvers in space, RCS jets that help you to turn your craft in any direction needed. It is very easy to get lost and not realize what will work with what. But the great thing about this is the ability to try and fail and try again. There are also 6 planets to visit and each planet has 1 or 2 moons that can be discovered as well. This is a community driven game, ala Minecraft, with a lot of user made mods to download and use. From the KSP website there is the Kerbal SpacePort  where you can download multitudes of user made rockets and parts for your own creations, including customizable missions to attempt. The Kerbal Space Program Wiki gives you all the available information you could use, from what is the latest update to tutorials created by users. I would highly recommend trying the tutorial about getting an unmanned probe into orbit, this will give you the basics on how to build, launch and pilot your craft. There are the Kerbal Space Program Forums as well, here you can introduce yourself, ask questions to other users if your having a tough time with anything. The community is very large and there are a lot of users always available to help answer your questions. From there the only limit is your imagination. All the controls are keyboard controls, but using an Xbox controller you are also able to pilot your craft using the thumbsticks, I have not tried using this controller as I much prefer the keyboard usage.
Actually getting to either the Mun or Minmus [these are the 2 moons that orbit the main planet Kerbin] is actually quite a challenge between having enough fuel and not trying to get too much weight into orbit, I have manged to orbit the Mun and land on Minmus, but not enough fuel to return to the planet. There are many things to do in this game, from setting up geosynchronous orbits of satellites so you can send unmanned craft to other planets to building space stations orbiting Kerbal. Once you are in orbit it is possible to set objectives by clicking on your current flight path and select objects and attempt to make your way to those. It will show you where to point your rocket, how much burn you will need to make it to your destination. This makes it easier to get to that planet that is way out there, although I have not attempted this. Another thing I enjoyed was when entering the atmosphere of the planet Kerbin, you do see the atmospheric effects on your space ship AND there is a mod that if your craft is NOT at the right attitude, you will burn up on re-entry. The possibilities are endless and building rockets and space planes and trying to get into space is what makes this game so much fun.
The graphics for Kerbal Space Program are better than you would expect. The level of detail is immaculate, everything from markings on the pods for the crew, down to how each RCS Fuel tank has it’s own look. The planet textures are actual textures meaning that when you are orbiting a planet to when you land on it, there isn’t a different texture that has to load for the each of the individual planets. This makes it easier for the game to run in full screen without bogging down your computer. The explosions and the look of the rocket burn is very appealing to the eye. The Kerbals are cute too, they are the little green men that make space flight so much fun.
When you are in your “hangers” building your ships there is music playing in the background that is of the Jazz aspect, giving you something to “groove” to while attempting to build super rockets. The sound effects of the rockets are almost perfect as you can really hear the strength of the rocket burn and your stuff exploding when it hits the ground. Once you are in space, this is when the music kicks in, it’s only there to let you know that you are out of the atmosphere of the planet and are now in space. It never gets in the way, but makes you feel like your accomplishing something.
So, if your into space travel, love rockets and enjoy physics based games, then you cannot miss this one.
Squad is continuing to update and bring this game into its own genre. It is one of the best space type games I’ve played and I am looking forward to the upcoming Career Mode as this will make it so you have to be able to recover your spent booster stages for future launches, train new Kerbals for space flight and Death is forever. I have spent close to 35 hours in this game and have only made 3 successful missions, 1 of an unmanned orbit of Stayputnik, 1 mission to orbit the mun and return and 1 mission to Minmus but am stranded, so I will have to send a new craft to pick up this stranded Kerbonaut. The future is bright, and many many Kerbals will give their lives to make my space missions successful. I am giving this a 9.5/10 only because of the games ability to make me want to succeed and keep trying, it is one of the harder games to walk away from when you are so close to getting to where you want to go…
The game can be downloaded directly from the Kerbal Space Program website [https://kerbalspaceprogram.com/]
or you can purchase on Steam, there is also a demo available to try before you buy…
Release Date: June 24, 2011
(US) $23.00 (KSP site) $22.99 (Steam)
(EU) $17.61 (KSP site) $17.60 (Steam)
ESRB: E PEGI: 3