A nice little game but nothing special, Miner Wars Arena does most of what it sets out to do...but not all of it quite as well as you'd hope. This is strictly an arcade coffee break type of game, nothing along the lines of the later titles by this developer. Provided you grab this while it's on dirt cheap during the big sales, or from an indie bundle, you'll probably like it - otherwise, for $5 I'd say it's a little too steep.
The enemy ship AI is quite smart in the deathmatch levels, as they pretty much know your location, while your radar only gives you a vague idea of theirs. Audio plays a big part in finding the enemy first, as you'll hear them punching through rock and fighting off the other ships a short time before seeing them. Unfortunately they do tend to make a beeline for you as soon as you're on screen with them, which can make fighting them off rather difficult at times and a little irritating - this slight rage is what'll keep you coming back, though.
As for the "protect the reactor" game mode in the "Special Edition" bit of the game...the AI quickly forgets how to be offensive after the two minute mark, and I had ships park themselves not far outside their spawn points, twitching spasmodically while the programming tried to figure out what to do next. This unfortunately ruins the game mode, as it gets boring hunting down these stuck vessels.
Multiplayer is completely dead and by the sounds of it has been since release, which is a pity because this would be a right fun little game to play with three friends. Controls are good, and the ships respond just like you'd hope - perfectly fine in relaxed situations, but seemingly never fast enough in heavy combat. Graphics aren't terribly nice, but they get the job done and the ships can easily be kept track of on any of the available terrain types.
Posted: December 16th, 2013