Gratuitous Space Battles is a new PC game inspired by famous space adventure films, science fiction novels, and distracting, compulsive web-browser games. It can run on both desktops and laptops, and those who pre-order the game before its mid-November release benefit from not only a $3 discount but also immediate access to an upgradable preview version of the final build.

Having cut his teeth at Lionhead Studios, makers of big hits Fable II and The Movies, Cliff Harris went solo and garnered praise with the innovation and originality of recent games Kudos: Band Legend and Democracy 2. He then became curious about what would happen if the popularity of 'tower defense' games was crossed with the monumental battles of big-screen science fiction.

The tower defense subgenre has been a surprise hit in recent years. Having started off as a fan-made modification of niche strategy games, it then went mainstream in 2007 with popular web-based versions such as Desktop Tower Defense.

Typically, players have a set time in which to place a series of automated projectile weapons before waves of enemies attempt to rush from one side of the game area to the other.

Exactly as its title implies, Gratuitous Space Battles takes the tower defense concept and flings it into the excitement and chaos of a full-on intergalactic conflict packed full of explosions, forcefields, gigantic roving space cruisers, nimble fighters, and mighty superlasers. Having set up a fleet of starfighters, the ensuing onslaught is somewhat akin to a personal firework show.

Players issue orders in an interesting mix of strategism, spaceship design, and frenetic action results in an immense Hollywood-style space battle. Fleet designs can be swapped and matched up against other players online, and positive early feedback combined with frequent improvements puts this very firmly on the radar. The official YouTube channel and website allow viewers to see just how far the game has come in the last eight months and to comment on design and gameplay tweaks.

The full game is due to be released by November 16, if not before, so those intrigued by the concept are advised to get in now while the getting's good.

Release date: Mid-November, worldwide download
Pre-order price: US$19.95 / €14.56 (pre-tax)
Full price: US$22.99 / €16.77 (pre-tax)
Official website:
YouTube channel: