Universe Sandbox 2
Universe Sandbox was a fun physics simulator, but there was always a sense that it could be more. The sequel, which is still in Early Access, takes some big steps forward in terms of presentation, but it is hard to determine if that's enough to help the sandbox live up to its...[read more below]
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Universe Sandbox 2
Universe Sandbox was a fun physics simulator, but there was always a sense that it could be more. The sequel, which is still in Early Access, takes some big steps forward in terms of presentation, but it is hard to determine if that's enough to help the sandbox live up to its potential.
If you've played the first Universe Sandbox game, you should already be fairly familiar with the concept for this one. If you haven't, it's pretty cut and dried - it's a physics simulator that allows you to play around with the stellar phenomena. The bulk of the game is dedicated to allowing players to mess around with gravity and to see how it will impact various planets, stars, asteroids, and comets. You can create custom maps or use pre-generated solar systems, but the concept is always the same. The big jump in terms of concept here is the addition of VR. Now you're not just watching the universe change from afar - you're closer to the action. Consider this a method of playing with the universe from a gods-eye view, something that makes the game feel a bit farther removed from its predecessor.
If nothing else, Universe Sandbox is an objectively pretty game. It's clear than an awful lot of work went into modeling the various planets, stars, and other stellar phenomena. There's only so much detail you can get when your scope is this big, but you've got to hand it to the art team for what they've managed to accomplish here. If you're looking for an excellent way to gaze at the universe, you can do a lot worse than this one - especially if you are playing in VR. The audio here is good, but not quite fantastic. That's not a knock on the sound design; it's just that there isn't as much in the way of sound effects as you might imagine. When there is sound, it's good. The game isn't home to the kind of sweeping orchestral scores that you might want when you consider that you can blow up planets on a whim.
There's not a whole lot of 'gameplay' to Universe Sandbox 2. It is what it says on the tin - a sandbox. There's not really any missions (at least, not at this point in development), nor is there a story. You get to mess around with physics at your leisure, but everything that happens within the bounds of the game is really up to you. The good news is that the actual act of playing the game is relatively straightforward. There are an awful lot of numbers that you can tweak in the game, but every one of them has relatively immediate results. The only downside here is that, in the end, there's not a good reason to do anything other than the fact that doing something is better than doing nothing.
It's hard to call Universe Sandbox 2 a game. It is an amazing physics simulator and a great game for learning (or teaching) about astrophysics, but there's nothing else here for the average player. If you get a chance to play around with the game, you'll certainly have fun, but you'll quickly want to move on to other things. In the end, it's up to you to decide how much time you want to spend in this particular sandbox.
Universe Sandbox 2 is a stellar physics simulator with a ton of breadth and not much depth.
What follows is the official description of Universe Sandbox ², from the developers.
Universe Sandbox is a physics-based space simulator that allows you to create, destroy, and interact on an unimaginable scale.
It merges real-time gravity, climate, collision, and material interactions to reveal the beauty of our universe and the fragility of our planet.
Universe Sandbox includes the desktop version and a VR mode with support for the HTC Vive, Oculus Rift+Touch, and Windows Mixed Reality.
N-body simulation at almost any speed using Newtonian mechanics. Real science, real physics, no supercomputer required.
Collide Planets & Stars
Epic, mind blowing collisions of massive planetary bodies that leave behind molten craters.
Create Your Own Systems
Start with a star, then add a planet. Spruce it up with moons, rings, comets, or even a black hole.
Model Earth's Climate
Watch sea ice grow and recede with the seasons because of the tilt of the Earth: change the tilt and change the seasons. Or move the Earth farther from the Sun and freeze the entire planet.
Supernova a Star
Make a star evolve by cranking up its age or mass, then watch a supernova unfold.
Explore Historical Events
Ride along with the Juno and New Horizons spacecraft, or view a total solar eclipse.
Throw Planets in VR
Just grab and fling.
Material System - build planets out of Hydrogen, Iron, Rock, & Water
Stellar flares & volatile trails
Procedurally generated stars & planets
Light-warping black holes
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