Based too much on luck, but still can be fun
Well, I personally think that this game is a big letdown to all of us Puzzle Quest fans. Sure, they incorporated plenty of great new ways of using their puzzle system, but game comes off as lacking in strategy and flow.
First of all, the new warpgate hacking system was potentially a great idea, but has turned out to be based almost purely on luck. This can be very frustrating because as your get further in the game, the puzzle gets harder, which inevitably means you're going to have to plan on attempting the puzzle several times before completeing it. That being said, my first "hard" difficulty hacking puzzle was completed on my first try, which goes to show you how much it's based on luck. Since the, I haven't been able to complete another one of the same difficulty. And I've run into plenty of "easy" puzzles that have taken several attempts for me to complete because of my horrible luck. Where's the strat in this?
Secondly, battles take way too long. Ships are tough. Your first ship has a decent number hull and shield points. Enemies have about the same. Shields regenerate as you match blue hexes, so you can be a "healer" without any healing abilites, which makes the battles take longer. Random encounters can take 10 min. at a time, which can really get annoying fast. Not to mention the fact that you might have to redo the battle if you lose (which depends mostly on your luck).
Third, the game is about as unstable as you can imagine for a fully-released game. In my 10 or so hours of play time, I litereally have had over 20 crashes. The game will crash randomly, be it in battle you've almost won or out in the world view. Luckily the game saves often. But it's obvious the game has some serious memory leaks that should have been fixed before release (the demo was the same for me, and I thought I brought it to their attention enough to fix it before release. guess not). I should mention that this problem is consistent on the 2 machines that I've tested it on, both running Vista x64. Could have to do with the platform, not sure.
Well, I hope this wasn't overlly negative. The game has its good points, such as haggling and crafting items. The new puzzles they added for those are much more enjoyable than hacking, or even their counterparts in Puzzle Quest. Still, I've experienced enough frustration already with this game to give it 3 stars instead of the 5 I was hoping and expecting to give it in my book. Puzzle Quest (the original) will probably just turn out to be their one-hit-wonder.