I did quite a bit of smuggling lately. If you read the reviews, you’ll know I enjoyed it. Will this part in the Smugglers universe be just as enjoyable, or will it be the same thing all over again? Smugglers 5 Invasion is a standalone expansion to Smugglers 5 Sessecion, or an expendalone if you will. The game is developed and released by Niels Bauer Games and was released on Steam 10-16-2014.

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Many things have changed since the original Smugglers 5. The Federation was victorious and merged with the Coalition. The Outer Rim Alliance and the Criminal Syndicate no longer exist. While the Federation is still weakened and struggling to get back on its feet, there’s a new threat on the horizon; the Jalkath. The Jalkath, an alien race with a Klingon like attitude,(glory and honor can only be found on the battlefield), are fierce warriors and are always prepared to die in battle. They look very similar to earth tigers. The Jalkath see their empire threatened by an unknown force. Their priests call it “the legendary darkness”. The only thing that can prevent the apocalypse is a sacrifice, called “the destruction of planet earth.” After quite some skirmishes along the border, the two empires officially declared war. Your choice is limited to only two sides, the human Federation or the alien Jalkath. The choice of occupation hasn’t changed. You can still choose to be a free trader, fleet trader, bounty hunter, pirate and more, all with their own ships and skill trees. More than 30 different ship types and over 100 skills.

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Something that immediately catches my attention is the battle system. Although the basics haven’t changed, you have a certain amount of action points each turn, which can be used for basic attacks. The skill system has gone through some adjustments. There is more variety and tactics involved. I mean tactics in the sense of knowing when to use certain skills or skill combinations. You can neutralize enemy skills now, and influence the battle more than before. This definitely spices up the combat system. Another improvement are the visuals. The game has a higher resolution than the original Smugglers 5 used to have. As a community reward the resolution of the base game has also been upgraded. No matter what side you fight on, victory can only be achieved by destroying the opponents home planet. Or you can choose to be the so called third dog and build your own empire. There is an entirely new class of ships. Besides the Jalkath vessels, there are humongous carriers capable of carrying and deploying there own fleet of bombers and fighters. You can pick up missions in every system currently owned by your faction and influence the course of the war. You can even go and get a drink at the local bar while hiring some crew members. One time early in the game I was approached by a shady character offering me an amnesia drug. It would reset my skill tree back to zero, causing me to assign all my points back into skills. How can I refuse drugs? So I immediately said: “sure, let me have some”. Unfortunately it costs 3 million and he didn’t accept my hard earned 50 thousand. I still can’t sleep at night wondering what kind of psychedelic adventure I didn’t experience. If you don’t feel like fighting, you can open a chain of factories and do some trading and smuggling. There are many different paths to follow, in the occupations direction and the end goal you want to achieve. Save the human empire, fight for the Jalkath or become a magnate, the fate of the universe is in your hands.

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Graphics are enhanced and everything looks better, but the UI is still pretty simple. The written word is in every aspect of the game. It is well written with many historical quotes. Sound is really basic, good music, a handful of effects, no speech at all and full support for blind players, but this feature requires third party software. To answer our initial question if the game offers enough to be enjoyable, for me it definitely does. New star systems, a new race with many different kind of ships, a spiced up combat system and more. For people who enjoy Smugglers 5 this is a must have. For the people who like to try a game, I can’t recommend one over the other.

Score Breakdown:

Graphics 3.0/5.0

Sound 2.0/5.0

Gameplay 4.0/5.0

Overall score 3.0/5.0

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Started gaming on the all time classic C64. Owned a couple of consoles but returned to PC gaming and never looked back. It took me a while to get used to getting a game without having a disc, and now I don’t want it any other way.

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