Star Conflict... the description of "World of Tanks in Space" works pretty well to describe it. While it lacks the intricacy of research and training crew that World of Tanks does, it still has a very similar experience grind that many other Free-to-Play games have used (Mechwarrior Online comes to mind.)
You spend time working your way through the tiers of each faction, factions you can change if you have enough credit earned from fights, each tier more powerful than the last. You have four basic types available to you ranging from small Covert Ops ships, intended for sneaky hit-and-runs against specific targets, to larger frigates that are there for longer range support with repair abilities.
The game looks absolutely stunning overall, with great dynamic lighting effects that I would have never expected from a DirectX9-based game. Effects are easily recognizable as well, giving you an easy way of knowing what is coming at you and what is going out.
The UI is serviceable. It lacks a certain flavor that would compliment the theme of the game, going fo ra simple "MMO" styled hot-button interface for extra utilities that your ship may have that dominates the bottom of the screen. The targeting cursor, or the mouse in combat, can also get lost in the middle of combat as well. Since the cursor is a a little too minimalist, and the HDR causes the screen to flash white violently at times, it becomes far too difficult to figure out just where your turrets are aiming.
Audio is alright. Voice acting is pretty poor, with quality on par with a modding team that doesn't quite have the experience needed to pull off something believable. "We have lost our commander!" comes out as someone just fresh from high-school trying to pretend to be in a position of authority with no believable emotion what-so-ever. They try to emphasize a lot, and in the end they sound pretty silly and cringe-worthy.
On the case of balance, low-tier equipment seems to do pretty well against anyone you'd get matched up with, but as you start pushing to higher tiered fights, the discrepancy between earnable ships and paid for or "Premium" ships starts becoming readily apparent. Ships purchased by "Gold Standards" with premium status have higher base stats than their earnable counter-parts and also manage to avoid the costs of repairs. Equipment purchased with "Gold Standards" also gives a top tier benefit that one must grind for with a specific faction to get, allowing people who pay cash to not only have a better core ship, but better equipment compared to the rest of their competitors.
The game's currency rate seems a bit strange. After checking the math, it comes to about 300 "Gold Standards" per US$1 which translates to $2.20 for the cheapest premium ship, $27.50 for one of the most expensive ships, $10 for a single month "license" that grants you increased chances for loot if you win a battle (which in turn grants credits and rare equipment), or $48 for a six-month "license" for loot as well.
While the licenses are less expensive than that of a standard MMORPG or MMO game in any right, everything else seems to tack on as extras. Cosmetics also cost roughly US$0.05 each depending on their type, certain equipment to mount on your ships also add to the cost, and really feels like the entire game is based on either trying to pull as much money out of you as it can for mid-tier (as that's where most players are), or nickel and diming you to death for cosmetic design.
Overall, the game can be fun, but the mid-tier combat is very much dominated by that of people who have either (rightfully) earned their equipment, or purchased it all, with premium ships looking more flashy than that of their earnable counterparts. This sets up a sense of each fight being unfair, regardless of the skill involved.
If you can tolerate the mid-field tendency for pay-to-win behaviors, and hopefully push to "end-game" tiers, then you'll have a great time with this game, but if you're sensitive to the possibility of buying out a win by equipment advantages, it may not be for you.