Written by  :  Indra is stressed (20731)
Written on  :  Dec 30, 2007
Rating  :  2.17 Stars2.17 Stars2.17 Stars2.17 Stars2.17 Stars

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An average copy-cat of Master of Orion that can't "meow" very well...

The Good

Game version: v1.0
Game mode used: Campaign
Game difficulty played: Suicidal
PC specs used: Intel Dual Core 2 1.86 Ghz. 1GB, 256MB NVIDIA 7300 LE.

So this is where Master of Orion went. After experiencing a very disappointing Master of Orion 3 which almost gave me a heart attack due to disgust, I almost gave up on 4x games. Until I came across Galactic Civilizations.

Well, this is my first experience with Galactic Civilizations. Not a very good first experience, but I'll save that for later.

I noticed that Galactic Civilizations is...er...Master of Orion. Really, this game is a total copy cat of Master of Orion...which can be good, or it can be bad...depending on how you developed it.

Can't really say much about the good, since it really is exactly like Master of Orion 2. Not much going on in the creativity department...let me tell you. Basically almost everything is the same, the ships, the technology screen, the galaxy interface. One would expect a little something more from a copycat. Apparently not.

The only difference in this game is that planets have tiles and thus limited areas to develop. Unlike Master of Orion where you can build any building you want in your planet, in this game you have to plan your planet due to the limited tiles and focus on what type of planet you want it to be: a economic planet, a industrial planet, a research planet, etc.

The only thing good worth mentioning is in this game, you can design your own ships. The physical attributes...merely just for display only since it doesn't effect the ship, but creating your unique type of ship (mine has a lot of horns) is extremely fun!

The Bad

Egad. I really hate it when they release a game that really shouldn't be released yet. The word "unfinished product" is something any consumer should never experience. And don't tell me that you can patch the game. If patching means making the game better, then I won't argue with you.

But if patching the game means fixing stuff they should've fixed in the first place (like bugs that constantly crash the game), then I totally protest. Stupidity should never be rewarded, appreciated nor ignored.

So here's the bad stuff.

Crash Bugs
Aaargh. I really hate it when this happens. In this version I have identified very annoying crash bugs among others:
  • Crashes randomly after playing for no particular reason;
  • Crashes randomly when saving games and thus corrupting the save game;
  • Crashes randomly when you save a ship design.

    I don't have that much problem with game crashes. It's what happens after that is what annoys me. I really hate it when it corrupts my saved games...who doesn't. Plus there also this annoying bug...which is....

    The 1 1/2 hour Load Game Bug

    I really don't recall when was the last time I experience this much idiocy in programming. After several campaign missions, I noticed that it takes 30 minutes to 1 1/2 hours to load a stupid freaking save game. Really!

    Eventually I found out (I think) it was due to me turning off the anti-aliasing (not quite sure why that should effect load games). Which I turned off, just to get rid of the constant random bug crashes. Boy, this game really does try one's temper.

    Ship Design
    Though ship design is the highlight (and the only thing different from Master of Orion) of the game, it is ultimately flawed. Why?

    The game lets you save ship designs which can be later used in any part of the game (or in my case, in mission scenarios of the campaign).

    The ship design will only show up again if you have discovered the same technology parts you put in that ship design. So if you saved the ship design with a Level 20 Laser gun for example, you have to get the similar technology first before you can access that design. Pretty stupid if you ask me, considering that you only want the ship's blue print that you designed for 30 minutes. Only to find out you have to design it again from scratch every time you start a new game.

    In game ship design also introduces slight problems. After adding like 30 components on the ship, you can't scroll through the components to the end, you can't quickly access important components like the weapons, modules or engines, making upgrades a very irritating process. Speaking of upgrades...

    Ship Upgrades
    Another feature this copy cat game failed to utilize effectively. Upgrading ships is a nightmare in this game. You have to manually upgrade ships one-at-a-time, since the only other way to upgrade all the ships is when you save a ship design with the same name as the last. Which sometimes you don't want to do since [1] You want a different name [2] You don't want to upgrade all the ships since you get really broke after that.

    There is no way to upgrade the ships you want from a macro interface. You cannot upgrade ships that are in a fleet, you have to separate the ship from the fleet first. Boy this game is stupid.

    Combat, Fleets and More Stupid Stuff
    Now this is the part where veteran gamers get really annoyed of copy cat games. First they copy it, then they take away the good stuff. What good stuff? They took away the tactical combat.

    In Master of Orion, you have turn-based tactical combat, which was really the focus of the game. In this stupid game, they took away the tactical combat. When you attack or are attacked by enemy ships, the combat is automatic. The attacker shoots first, thus having many tiny ships with big guns means you'll win fast. No brainer for combat here. Pretty boring after a while. A very quick while.

    Since having tiny ships with big guns usually do the trick in winning almost any battle. Having any other ship type is to a certain extent pretty darn useless. This has to do with “fleets”. Fleets is the action of combining ships into one big pool party. Without a fleet, a ship may only attack individually. The size of the fleet however depends on your logistics technology. So a logistics of 10 means you can have 5 tiny ships (tiny ships=2 logistics) in your fleet. Small ships = 3; Medium ships = 4; Large ships = 5, etc. You do the math.

    So when you have a fleet consisting of 10 tiny ships vs. a fleet with 3 large ships, if your attacking, it really doesn’t matter what weapons the defender has. You fire first and usually kill all or at least half of the enemy ships (depending on the technology the enemy has). In the end, armor, shields, and anything else of defensive value has little use in the game, since the best tactic is having a whole multitude of tiny ship fleets with big guns bringing anarchy to the galaxy.

    Another annoying feature in the game. You can’t bring fleets into orbit. For some stupid reason, every time your fleet enters a planet’s orbit, it disbands. Any you can only defend with one ship, unless your planet has a Fleet Manager improvement. Don’t know why they had to create this useless and irritating feature. In the end, you’d rather not have any of your ships orbiting your planet, except one ship to stop enemy troopships.

    Educational Value
    This is where I draw the line. Someone fire whoever wrote all those stupid descriptions for technologies. I remember in Master of Orion, they created scientific explanations for every technology upgrade. Here its like it’s written by some high school drop out trying to sound funny. It only shows the shallowness of the developers involved in this project, since it doesn’t represent a passion of quality a passionate developer would take pride in creating games.

    The Bottom Line

    Well it's a copy cat. An average copy cat. One would expect more from a copy cat. But this game really can't meow very well. Be sure to patch the game.