Star Citizen is mainly a space sim - but from an ego perspective. This means that you're not the ship or the vehicle you're in. You are you!
The goal of Star Citizen is to create a huge universe where you can go, drive and fly with your character whereever you want.
This is why it's not just a simple space sim: It's a mix of lots of genres. If you're on a station or planet on foot it's an ego shooter. If you're buying and selling goods it's a business simulator. And if somebody ambushes you in space it's a combat space sim.
The game is designed as a MMO which means that you'll be online in the same universe with other human players. You can team up with others and create your personal adventure. In addition there will be NPC's (non player characters) who will keep the balance of the economic system.
It will be the first game of it's kind: Nobody mixed all these game types ever before. This is why they're developing lots of new techniques. For instance, it will be possible to run around in a destroyer while it's in a battle with other ships. Or it will be possible to land on planets without a loading screen. Just to explore it then by foot or with your buggy.
Chairman and creative director is none other than Chris Roberts, the developer of the famous Wing Commander game series.
This is one of the official trailers for the game:
Star Citizen is the MMO described above (the online game). Squadron 42 will be a separate single player campaign which will play in the same universe. It will consist of a story with different missions just like Wing Commander (and maybe more!).
You'll be able to buy both games separately, but in this case you'll be able just to play Star Citizen (the MMO) or Squadron 42 (the single player part).
However, till the 1st of February both games will be in every game package (you can find more infos about game packages in Part 2 of the Beginners Guide).
Star Citizen: Massive multiplayer online game
Squadron 42: Single player campaign
Both games aren't fully developed for now and there is no confirmed release date. A rough estimate is the year 2018 for Squadron 42. However, if you decide to buy the game now, you'll get alpha access and huge price discounts.
Maybe you're asking yourself now: Should I really buy this game in this early stage?
I had the same struggle some time ago, but the current status of the game convinced me. There are so many playable parts that - in my opinion - it's sure that they will release this game. In the alpha 2.0 version you're able to run around in stations, get into ships with other players and do missions together. So far over 300 developers in 4 studios are working to finish the game.
The game is 100% crowd funded. That means if you're buying the game, you'll support the development directly. Another reason to buy in this early.
To get access to both games it is enough to pledge a small amount of money (the mentioned 50 dollars). With this you'll get Squadron 42 and Star Citizen with a small starter ship.
However, it's also possible to pledge more for bigger starter ships. This is how Chris Roberts was able to collect over 100 million dollars till now.
If you want to see what they do with the money, you can take a look into the monthly reports and countless videos:
In Part 2 of the Beginners Guide you will find all the infos you need to play the game.
In this video you can see the current content from the live server. The player starts at the space station "Port Olisar" and flies to the planet Daymar.
And the trailer of the 3.0 version (with a bit more action):
>> PART 2: What do I need for playing Star Citizen? >>