Kerbal space program (short: KSP) is a detailed sandbox/simulation game developed by the Mexican game studio Squad which gives the player full control over the space program of an alien species known as the Kerbals. As the successor KSP2 was just released into early access let’s have a look at the original and evaluate if it is still worth it.
Story – rocket goes brrrrr
“Sandbox games don’t have a story”… but Kerbal space program is no normal sandbox. Upon releasing you to your new home Kerbin, which is a planet inhabited by a small green humanoid species, it is your job to advance the space program of these cute beings. While managing the finances, the scientist teams, the rocket design, and the final launch of rockets you need to expand the spaceport on Kerbin to help the Kerbals leave their planet and master the whole solar system.
This story might sound weird at first glance but immediately brings out the inner child in everybody remotely interested in space flight and airplanes. So should you be tired by boring repetitive sandbox and simulation games then Kerbal Space Program might be worth a try as it challenges the players capabilities for creative and technical thinking.
Furthermore, you will also learn a lot of knowledge about how real rockets work as the game is, despite its cartoonish graphics, extremly accurate when it comes to rocket physics, aerodynamics, orbits and the control of the spaceships.
The two main game modes are the campaign mode, where you are the chief of a whole space port facility and need to manage everything from the engineering department all the way to the hiring of new workers, and the sandbox mode. In the sandbox you are as in most sandbox games free to do whatever your imagination allows. Both modes are really fun. The third possible game mode is the science mode which is similar to the campaign mode but more focused on the science gathering and exploring aspect of the game.
Since I like to play around with the different rocket parts, I particularly like the sandbox mode, which to my surprise is still fun even after many hours and at the same time capable to playfully explain the physics behind rockets. Apart from building rockets and propelling them into orbit you are also able to build satellites, rovers, spaceplanes, helicopters and much more. You can leave your creative imagination full freedom and build the spaceships of you dreams.
Graphics – you can see the years
As the game already has a successor named Kerbal space programm 2 that’s currently in the beta test phase you can’t expect all too much from a game that was released in 2011. Especially when looking at the environment of the basic spawn planet Kerbin you will quickly realize that the textures and surface relief have gotten quite a bit below the standard of today’s video game industry.
Nevertheless, the game still looks fine considering that its main aspect are the physics. Don’t be misled by its age though. KSP still manages to bring modern higher end graphics cards to its limits. Mostly due to the extensive physics rendering on many parts of the rocket simultaneously.
As many sandbox games Kerbal Space Program also allows for extensive mod use which resulted in the community creating a lot of them. Like Minecraft, this has helped keeping the game alive by allowing the community to interact with the game more than it would be otherwise possible.
Especially with a game that is oriented at a complicated and constantly evolving topic (such as rocket science) this comes in useful as people started to implement the new technology that emerged over the years into the game and thus keeped the engagement of the players constantly high. In recent years there even have been rebuilds of the enormous SpaceX Starship! Furthermore, there are mods reaching from graphics enhancements to completely new parts in the game making it possible to customize and expand the possibilities in nearly all categories the video game has to offer.
Kerbal Space Program is the perfect game for everyone who is interested in science and space. Furthermore, it offers a great and playful way to learn the physics and engineering marvels behind rockets. Even though the successor has already been released we would still recommend you this classic sandbox game if you can find it on a sale.
Kerbal Space Program: Kerbal Space Program is the perfect game for everyone who is interested in science and space. It offers a great and playfull way to learn the physics and engineering marvels behind rockets. – GLPC: phantom