Ever since PCs and consoles settled on the CD as a common distribution medium, PC gamers have been on guard against the dreaded cross-platform label. In the worst cases, sloppy port jobs and quick cash-ins can render console games nigh unplayable with mouse and keyboard. But even in the best cases–take last year’s Tomb Raider, for example–the PC versions are still generally saddled with level-size restrictions, quick-time events, and menu interfaces that fly in the face of decades of PC-gaming sensibilities.
Now that the PC has left disc-based distribution in the dust, it’s found chic new company in mobile games. More and more developers are releasing their mobile hits on Steam, bringing their PC games to the App Store, or even targeting both platforms from the outset. Sadly some of the new breed of PC/mobile releases show as little respect for the two platforms’ unique conventions as the console ports of old.
Take today’s announcement of Space Noir, which in a dashing display of modernity eschews a website for a Facebook page. It’s a new narrative-driven space combat game from N-Fusion, the same outfit that made Deus Ex: The Fall. Here’s how the press release describes it:
Evoking all time classics for the space combat genre including Wing Commander and X Wing, Space Noir includes intense ship-to-ship combat, boss battles and high-octane planetary combat missions, challenging players reaction times and piloting skills. Players can customize their ship with upgradeable weapons, defenses, unlockable special maneuvers and cosmetic upgrades to traverse the galaxy within an intensely dark storyline.
Prima facie, there’s ample reason to be dubious of a space sim that purports to be controllable with a fingertip. Some game types–adventure, strategy, tactical combat, many RPGs–are arguably at their best on touch devices. But navigating complex 3D spaces in real-time remains a chore, and at this point I’m convinced it’s an unsolvable problem. (And that’s not to mention the challenges of doing so while manning the shipboard systems of a proper space sim!)
But setting all that aside, how are we supposed to take seriously the claim that Space Noir is cut from the cloth as Wing Commander and X-Wing, when the press release extols in the very same breath the virtues of boss fights, unlockable maneuvers, and other casual dreck? The inherent tension between platforms is apparent even in the game’s own ad copy.
Thus its own press materials declare: if you care about getting the best native experience on your platform of choice, Space Noir is not your game. Even as a chorus of uncritical voices rings out in its early favor, I urge PC and mobile gamers alike to look askance.
The trailer and the full text of the press release are after the jump.