The best 4X game since Master of Orion 2
That's an absolutely fantastic game ,set in realistic galactic conditions. There are 4 unique races ,each having a unique way of travelling:
-the Humans have discovered nodes in the 4-D continuum, which lead ,through 5-D space, to another 4-D point ,making travelling between those 2 points much faster ;but they can only travel along "node lines" ,and in a single jump ,making power upgrades critical
-the Dragons(Tarka) employ a standard "star trek" hyperdrive engine, which delivers them slowly across the galaxy
-the Dolphins(Liir) have found a way to propel giant ships,filled with water environment ,through microscopic teleportations, delivering them faster across empty space and slower near planet masses
-the Insects (Hiver) move slowest of all races, but they have instant-teleporting gates, making "zerg" attacks very simple
The combat is in the best 3-D environment I ever seen! Everything is alive from the missiles hitting and turning around ,to the ships having crews inside and experiencing partial destruction of their inner or outer hull sections
The ship design is streamlined and easy to use ,though strategically complicated to use :each ship has a command section (standard,assault,hammerhead,deep scan...) ,a mission section( armor,barrage, transport,deflectors...) and an engine section( fission,fusion ,antimatter and their improuvements).You many add armor and improuvements ,such as suspended animation for the colony section ,to each section
You have to employ different mission ships on your attacks:
-a tanker ship for resupply
-armor ships for attacking
-barrage ships for destroying sattelites
-scouts for deep scans
-deflector ships for screening the entire fleet from enemy attacks
-colonizer ships for re-colonizing the enemy world after you wiped out its population
-refinery ship for refining fuel along the route
-assault ships for quickly exterminating population centers
-gate ships (if you're a Hiver) for establishing teleport gates
-mining ships for mining minerals and improuving the planet,after the conquest
-command ships for fleet control
-and ,finally,repair and salvage ships
The loss of all ships from a mission design severely hamper your fleet.Your inability to withdraw ships to the last lines and promote battle ships only to the front lines severely reduces your chances for victory.
All these come in 3 sizes:Destroyer, Cruiser and Dreadnought ;each having different mission sections.In it all ,it's a huge tactical game; and it looks beautiful.
Besides,the strategic part is realistic:you have to build infrastructure on a planet first in order for the population to grow (at a rat-crazy 275%/year ratio) ,then terraform it ,so you stop paying huge amounts of money for maintenance each turn;then watch the population grow by millions each turn and getting ready to build ships. If you don't do this properly, your people will live a long time like in Romania,my country....
The game seems to be unfinished,to put it lightly:
-no winning conditions: kill everyone else
-no ship capture, just destroy them
-no way of interacting with the other civilisations in the game, except for gifts and non-aggression pleads
-no planet capture, just kill them all and colonize ,using the remaining infrastructure
-minimalistic controls: no button for cycling fleets, for example
-graphic interface with no obvious controls
And the random events are too few.
The research 3-D tree is many times unbalanced ,casting a very difficult game, as you cannot defend properly or colonize in an efficient manner
The 3-D strategic map gets confusing at times,as it masks the names of the ships and planets from a certain distance,so you always have to rotate and zoom in and out in order to get your perspective
In the end ,you build your empire,colonize hundreds of planets ,research everything possible..then you ask yourself :"Now what?"
The Bottom Line
The next generation of TBS/RTS 4X games has started with this game.Although full of flaws,it describes a living universe in the future era of faster computers.
No more spreadsheet games! No more looking to a poor 2-D picture and try to imagine it's a tank or a spaceship.No longer painfully controlling each of your hundred worlds each turn! No more issuing building orders every other turn!
Now everything is in 3-D:even if is still primitive (wooden,single layer ships ) and ground combat is non-existent (Kerberos explained that it was too much for a player to control naval ships,aircrafts ,tanks and troops at the same time when the space battle was going on in the skies) it lays the foundation for future strategic games,who will no longer be a "niche" for only the smartest and hard-boring people around.