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SummaryQuirky, atmospheric, low-stress, a classic!
The GoodThis game has more "soul" than almost any other PC game. By that I mean something like the integration of graphics, music, and content to generate a deep sense of the game's personality or atmosphere. The graphics are amazing for 1995. I never get tired of the music, which is very spacey but also a little like an old Morricone soundtrack. It's got a great-looking and easy to use 3D star map, and 21 species with cool pictures and their own musical themes (which you only get to hear for a minute).
As a reviewer wrote elsewhere, this is the most low-stress of all strategy games. You never feel hurried, and apparently you can keep playing indefinitely. Some players won't appreciate this.
The BadThere's no way to know what a new item DOES before getting it, so no basis for a decision on which technology to research.
The help-click feature is a joke, compared to games where it's done well, like the Heroes of Might & Magic series where you can right-click on practically anything and get useful information.
As everyone has pointed out, all interactions with computer opponents are clunky.
I suppose this is asking too much of the programmers, but after the mind-blowing diversity of the species descriptions, gameplay-wise they're just about identical. Tree people, giant amoebas, and microscopic parasites all build the same industrial-style planet improvements and research the same technologies.