Gratuitous Space Battles 2 is now in beta, which—as is the way of things these days—means that, one, it isn't quite finished, and two, you can buy it anyway. It's technically a preorder, but preordering grants access to the beta, so it's effectively the same as handing your cash to the guy at GameStop. And as developer Cliff Harris explained on his blog, this isn't some "super-early-access proof of concept thing": Most stuff actually works work like it's supposed to.
"There will of course be bugs, and myriad balance issues. And I will be adding some extra voiceover and a few other bits and pieces," Harris wrote. "But hopefully this is something you can play and enjoy right now. You get a download link, an online serial (for challenges, if you want to use them), and a Steam code for its eventual Steam release (the code obviously isn’t working yet)."
GSB2 is a top-down strategy game of battles between great fleets of mighty spaceships. But it's not a conventional RTS; instead, players design their ships, form them up into fleets, and then issue orders and hope for the best. The hook is the "over-the-top explodiness" that ensues when battle is joined: Fighters swarm, missiles fly, beams flash, and of course everything blows up gloriously. Gratuitously, you might say.
Improvements in GSB2 over the original include more ship classes, visually unique "designer ships," and support for multiple monitors and mods. It also looks pretty spectacular, as can be seen in the beta trailer that hit YouTube today. If it looks like your cup of tea, you can dig deeper at gratuitousspacebattles2.com.