Orion’s Belt Review: Tactical Browser Gaming At Its Best
By Vincent Haoson (Vincenthaoson), OnRPG Journalist
Orion’s Belt is a browser based game that mixes resource gathering strategic gaming into a cohesive online universe. The game carries the usual, earn resources and rule all goal set, but Orion’s Belt goes about it in a totally new and refreshing way.
Earn, and rule
Orion’s Belt follows the usual route in browser based gaming. You get yourself a piece in the game’s online universe and from there you have to upgrade, improve and practically make something out of the scarce resources you have. There’s nothing really surprising nor new in this area of the game because what you would be building from the five planets you have are the usual structures you would often get to upgrade in other browser based games. Though the names may be different, every single structure you have either belongs to the resource gathering sector or the military battle sector of the game.
I must say though that building takes longer in Orion’s Belt if you would compare it to other browser games. Normally, if you start out with other browser games you have a boost in building speed, but Orion’s Belt does not have that. However, I must say though that building and getting resources is only half of the fun in Orion’s Belt, as I would explain to you later on.
Aside from resource farming, the other way to get resources in Orion’s Belt is to explore the area that was provided for you. You can use the free scout ship that is provided for you upon signing up or setup your fleet as soon as possible to get those ships off the ground and do what they do best, exploring space. Exploring in Orion’s Belt is easy because you are supported graphically by the game system. Also, everything is done via point and click making it more convenient for you to order your fleets around. Having convenient controls is one of the many reasons of Orion’s Belt. It makes exploring much more fun and easier. However, similar to the game’s building, moving also takes time, though it won’t take as long.
Orion’s Belt’s overall interface is interlaced with graphics making it very much a newbie friendly game. The corresponding image goes along with the in-game texts making it easier even for kids to understand what they see. This gives the game a wider scope in terms of the age group who can play the game.
Another good thing in the game’s interface is that even if it is graphically heavy, it doesn’t lag that much unlike a lot of the browser games that are similarly graphics heavy. However I must stress that Orion’s Belt does not have the most visually spectacular graphic-centered interface but the design and the look get things done. I must say though that the best feature of Orion’s Belt is not the interface nor the graphics but something else.
Orion’s Belt prides itself into having a very unique and addicting battle system, and they delivered. Battle’s in Orion’s Belt is not the usual text and turn based interplay of choices you would often find in browser games but something familiar and new. The game’s battles are set on a chess-like board where each player is given a limited amount of pieces they can put into play. Your units have restricted movements and each has its own attack pattern and strength. You take turns in attacking and using the pieces you have on board you would have to outwit your enemy and decimating their fleets before they finish of yours. On paper it seems that the game’s battle system is dull but things are really different when you’re the one playing it.
The unbelievable simplicity of the game is its strength. Winning battles in Orion’s Belt is not about who has the biggest guns, but who can use them more effectively. Not only is the battle system really enthralling but it also is the game’s main draw. You can watch battles as they happen or you can even backtrack some of the old battles which gives you the ability to learn from the pros and maybe find a way to beat them. The battles are not just very competitive but it also fosters a kind of online bond between players. This happens because the game encourages tournaments where players can pit their strategies against each other. Any gamer in their right mind wouldn’t miss that for anything.
The battles are the better half of Orion’s Belt and if I’m allowed to go even further I’d say that this is the actual heart of Orion’s Belt itself. The battle system is the one thing that separates Orion’s Belt among the numerous browser games that are out now. The mix of the chess-like familiarity and the competitiveness of strategic turn-based battles is this game’s recipe to success.
Out of the numerous browser based games I’ve played before, I must say that the people behind Orion’s Belt is one of the most hands-on administrators I’ve experienced. Not only does the team constantly improve and update the game they also foster camaraderie and real player connections aside from encouraging a very competitive player atmosphere. This is the first time I’ve seen a browser game actually encourage and invite players to join the team on face to face meetings through the annual lunch the team spearheads. This shows that the people behind the team is not just into earning money but also giving the players something more than just a game.
It is very rare to see a team so involved with player interaction that it would seem the game is more of a community rather than a browser game. Through this it shows that the team behind Orion’s Belt really loves the game and the community that is why I can say that this is a good measure on how the game would carry on forward.
I must say that I am quite impressed with the game. Of course it still carried a lot of familiar game aspects in terms of the resource mining, the planet nurturing and invading. However, the game is really set apart by the game’s battle system. Orion’s Belt has something for everyone. For the players who are not into competitive battles, they can still enjoy the game by the usual route and battle against the AI. However, competitive battles are where the true Orion’s Belt fun is.
– Graphics-centered interface
– Simple yet very addictive battle system
– Very accommodating community.
– Not joining the competitive battles takes out most of the fun
– Some game systems are too familiar and is better done by other browser games
– Moving and exploring takes a lot of time.