Stunning ships, swappable weapons, and detailed figurines. Here's the first thing you need to know about Starlink: Battle For Atlas: this video game is an investment - and a potentially expensive one.

Starter packs for either the PlayStation 4, Xbox One or Switch versions hover around the $120 mark, while extra characters and spaceships, for which there are many, and there are bound to be more coming, swoop up into the $60 range.

It gets worse. If you want to play as Fox McCloud - the canny character from 1993's Starfox, upon which Starlink is based - you'll need a Nintendo Switch to do that. Because of platform rights, McCloud is locked out of the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One versions.

Phew. Anyone who has had a child hooked on similarly wallet-draining titles like Disney Infinity or Lego Dimensions is probably running to the bank to sweatily request another mortgage increase in time for Christmas.

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That's the bad stuff out of the way.

Here's the good stuff: Starlink isn't just about getting your kids hooked on collectible toys. Plenty of work has gone into the game, and it shows. The visuals are gorgeous, a dizzying array of vivid, No Man's Sky-style planets, populated full of weird and wonderfully evil alien races.

The story hasn't been tacked on either. With its diverse mix of freedom fighters called names like Razor and Hunter, it feels like Starlink is trying to build up a fully realised world, one to rival Star Wars in scope and ambition.

Then there are those toys. Yes, they're well-made. Yes, they're going to look great on your bookshelf. But they do more than that. Each one snaps on to your controller and connects, via a wire, to your console. That's how you play the game, with a ship hovering above your hands.

If you crash out in a mission, you'll need a spare ship to rejoin the battle. Don't have one? You'll have to restart. It helps if you have an array of weapons too: they're also interchangeable, depending on the mission's objectives.

Swapping his weapons around is my 8-year-old son's second favourite thing about Starlink. The first? It's got to be the flying, and that's one thing that Starlink absolutely nails. Zipping across alien terrain as a lumbering beast looms in the distance, or as a new, unexplored city comes into eyesight, or as a dust storm flies up around you, really is a joy. If I was 8, I too would have Starlink's stars in my eyes.

As you'd expect, some of the game's missions can be tiresome. I've lost count of how many alien structures I've been tasked with taking out, or energy sourcing trips I've flown on. But they're all part of a bigger storyline in which you're tasked with forming an alliance of pilots to take on an alien race called the Forgotten Legion. You'll need to build up your experience, and your ship's capabilities, to succeed at that.

But the best parts of Starlink are getting out there and exploring those stunning alien worlds. The cost will be prohibitive to some, but the sheer joy of taking on marauding aliens, having them jump on to your ship, shaking them off and blasting them to smithereens with a beaming buddy by your side really makes it all worthwhile.

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Starlink might ask for a lot up front, but it also gives a lot in return.

Starlink

Platforms: PlayStation 4, Xbox One, Switch
Rating: PG
Verdict: Space rules... if you can afford it.