Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares

aka: MOO 2, Master of Antares
Moby ID: 182
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Legends speak somewhere in space of the mystical planet Orion. Created by the Ancients, it remains unclaimed due to a powerful Guardian that orbits the planet and keeps out intruders. These same Ancients long ago fought a war against the Antarans and banished them into another dimension. Now... long after the Ancients empire has vanished, new races take to the stars, wishing to establish their own star empires, defeat the Antarans and become... The Master of Orion.

Master of Orion II: Battle At Antares is a turn-based 4x space empire game and is the sequel to Master of Orion, reinterpreting that game from scratch. Unlike the original the game can be played single player or with other human players. The player takes the role of a ruler of one of thirteen races, while also having the extra option of creating a custom one. They must manage planet resources to build ships and facilities, improving production. Exploration of the galaxy is done via scouts and colony ships, which can establish new planets as part of the empire. Research must also be done to discover and utilize new technologies. Alien civilizations which are encountered can be negotiated with, or ships can engage in combat in a turn-based grid system. As new systems are explored, random events are triggered and strange artifacts found in orbit around unexplored planets. Wormholes can also be found which allow transport across dozens of parsecs into new star systems.

The game can be won in different ways: through conquest of all other races, being voted supreme leader of the galaxy or destruction of the Antaran race.

Spellings

  • 银河霸主II:安特雷斯之战 - Simplified Chinese spelling

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Credits (DOS version)

51 People (48 developers, 3 thanks) · View all

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 81% (based on 23 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.8 out of 5 (based on 205 ratings with 15 reviews)

I agree with Zzap's review: MOO 2 still remains the very best Space-empire building game

The Good
1) The game was released in the Fall of 1996 and no other game of that 4X genre has succeeded since then to take away its crown. But it can be argued that "Imperium Galactica II" (released in April 2000) can share the throne, "MOO 2" being the turn-based ruler in this diarchy, and "IG 2" being the real-time co-ruler. Four games will come out, in the next five months of 2000, to attempt to take away the 4X/turn-based crown: "Reach for the stars" (mid-August), "Space Empires IV" (Oct. 1st), "Stars! Supernova Genesis" (?), "Galactic Civilizations" (?). "MOO 3" is seriously under development for a Fall 2001 release.

2) 13 races to choose from, and a very detailed menu to custom-design your own race, playing with a lot of options and variables. This consequently confers to this game a lot of replay value. Three and a half years after its release, I still play that game on a regular basis.

3) Stellar systems most often contain more than one planet to colonize.

4) Even though they are 2D, graphics still look great, except the pictures of some of the races.

5) The command-points system limits the number of warships one can effectively control, preventing a race to produce massive fleets which can overwhelm the game early one.

6) A very extensive technological tree, where the player cannot select every available option, forcing him to make important choices. This also confers to the game a lot of replay value. For example, in one game, you might choose to accelerate production by selecting "automated factories", while in another game, you might rather opt to bolster your defenses with "planetary missile base", or strengthen your warships by selecting "heavy armor". That trio represents one of the tough crossroads of the research-tree.

7) You can hire amusing heroes and mercenaries: up to 3 to become efficient star-system governors, up to 3 to be assigned as warship captains.

8) You can design your own starships.

9) There are a lots of diversified buildings you can put down on the surfaces of your planets.

10) The pictorial representations of the various planetary landscapes are superb.

11) Turn-based tactical combat between warships looks great, is easy to learn, but complex to really master.

12) A 14th race, the Antareans, can be introduced later on in the game to harass the most powerful races.

13) There are 3 different ways to win the game: military extermination of the other races, diplomatic victory by obtaining 2/3rds of the votes needed to be elected Galactic Emperor, destroying the Antarean homeworld.

14) A sufficiently extensive diplomatic menu, with an exquisite "holographic" representation of alien embassadors when you communicate with them.

15) You can spy and sabotage.

16) Lots of cool weapons and weapons-effects.

17) A whole lot of stuff to play with, making it a prodigious game with lots of replay value. I'm sure I forgot something good to mention.

The Bad
1) The galactic map generator is mediocre to bad, in the sense that it can initially create a universe which puts some races in tight spots, surrounded by cheap planets to colonize. You can thus invest hours of gameplay to then realize that you are doomed because of an extremely disadvantagous starting-position.

2) Even though many star-systems offer more than one planet to colonize, there's a maximum of about only 70 systems in the game, with a few systems closed to colonization (because they contain a black hole, or no planets, or only gas giants and asteriod fields). That's frustrating, especially if you combine this limitation with what was mentioned in the previous paragraph.

3) The game, as initially released, was full of bugs. Get the final 1.31 patch: on my computer, it is very stable, bug-free, and it only crashes once and awhile when the late game has too much stuff to process ("stack overflow"). Save often on a few slots representing different times. Don't click too much for nothing when the game enters its late stages.

4) The enemy AI is of unequal value. Except in the initial learning process, don't play below the "average" difficulty setting. What often happens is that one or two races will rapidly become very strong (usually: the Sakkras, Klackons, and Silicoids), while the rest of them will stagnate on few star-systems. I think that the cause of that is a defensive programming which forces them to build early on too powerful fleets for their means, neglecting planetary building, research, and colonization.

5) There are no social and political events on your planets. You can mismanage your empire and overtax without fear of being challenged by riots and revolutions. "MOO 3" is supposed to introduce internal consequences for your decisions.

6) Consequently, it is easy to manipulate the taxation system to unfair ends. When the game has proceeded beyond the early stages, you can overtax your population for a few turns to make a lot of cash and then accelerate production by purchasing items.

7) Spies often take too much time to train. It is unrealistic to see that a planet has to dedicate all of its productive efforts for half a dozen turns just to train one spy. Instead, like in some other games, the player should be able to build FBI/CIA-style buildings which would then generate spies or espionage points, while the planet's production queue would be engaged in building other stuff.

8) Planetary ground combat is extremely simplistic and dull.

9) Starship tactical combat being turn-based, the fanatics of real-time combat might eventually become bored.

10) There's a lot of micromanagement when the game gets into its later stages, with many planets to supervise. In a single-player game, it can still be fun, but in a multiplayer game, it will introduce boring delays.

The Bottom Line
I agree with Zzap's recent review: "MOO 2" remains the very best Space-empire building game, 3½ years after its release. It has a lot of replay value, with all of its options, but that becomes even better if you can get your hands on the third-party save-game editor ("Corion2" by Gonzalus, 1997). Unfortunately, that editor does not come with instructions, and your games will fatally crash or get weird if you mismanage the editing process. E-mail me ([email protected]) if you have questions concerning the game or the use of the editor.

Windows · by Jean-Paul Cardinal (16) · 2000

One of the best turn-based strategy games out there.

The Good
Almost anything. The game has good graphics, a powerful yet simple and direct interface, a fun AI ranging in several levels and a lot of customization options. I espacially like the techology system, which allows you to research about a third of all of the techologies in the game, making each decision cruical to your strategy and enhancing the inter-player interaction (trading, spying or conquering new technologies is a must).

The Bad
The multiplayer options. Although there are many possible options for playing with other players, the game constantly crashes while playing Hotseat or Modem. The latest patch helps, but not enough, and the game is not stable. Another problem is the race customization; it's too easy to make a "broken" race, which will have amazing specialty in one field (a lot of money, a lot of science, etc. etc.) and will ruin the game, but this can be easily solved by playing one of the pregenerated races.

The Bottom Line
MicroProse is selling this game, along the original classic, for an amazingly low price. Worth buying, espacially now.

DOS · by El-ad Amir (116) · 2000

Nothing worse, but nothing better.

The Good
The second chapter in the classic MOO series, obviously, gives some audiovisual improvement: graphics and music are correct, and sound effects are specially remarkable. Now, instead of having to choose between pre-defined races, you can customize your own through a benefit / flaw system that costs or gives you picks; this is a good way to expand replayability and strategies to use, and is the best addition to Moo. Good (even necessary) fix were multiple planets in each system.

The Bad
The diplomatic model is rich in options, but making allies isn't worthy the effort, since little effect it has (improving the range of your ships, and nothing more: there is no cooperation between allies). Also, in very very few occasions you get fair tech exchanges: the AI always demands tech of superior (even much superior) value.

Tactical combat can be nice to see the first times, but it's poorly designed. Although range is taken in consideration and the Attack/Defense values isn't a bad system, current speed of the ship plays no role: if a 14-speed ship moves 7 squares a turn, in the next it shouldn't move at 0 or 14; it's unrealistic; a fast-moving ship shouldn't make a 180 degree turn at full speed, to put another example. The way combat is designed, all battles become soon a matter of close-and-shoot-until-one-of-us-explodes, so take the largest ship you can and don't bother anymore. There is no tactic. After some battles, you push the automatic (I remember a board game, Star Warriors, which combat system was the best I've seen… it would be a good system for tactical combat).

Colony management in Moo2 swifts to that of Civ-style, and that's a system I didn't like ever: a list of buildings and go on; in middle-later game, micromanagement is boring: build as many as you can, no more. How good could be the system in Moo improved. And the same can be told about tech and research: is somewhat stupid to make a choice between two or three applications in a field… and for some reason you can't research the rest! (the key to victory: Creative, and you needn't to exchange tech). The sliding bar system in Moo was better; why not simply improve it? If you're going to change anything, make something good! Changing for changing leads to the above: a silly system much worse than its predecessor.

The Bottom Line
Although improves features from Moo, replaces some good old ideas with bad ones. The sum is nothing worse, but nothing better.

DOS · by Technocrat (193) · 2002

[ View all 15 player reviews ]

Discussion

Subject By Date
Compatibility - just use Steam MerlynKing May 8, 2022
Has anyone witnessed the battle at Antares? CalaisianMindthief (8172) Oct 6, 2015
Master of Orion II How to install in win7 Dim Gri (30) Oct 24, 2011

Trivia

Combat system

The whole tactical ship combat system has many similarities with the system used in Renegade Legion: Interceptor. This not is not only restricted to technical aspects. If one examines the ship graphics in Interceptor more closely, there should be a moment of déjà vu.

Development

The folks at SimTex were calling this game Master of Antares when it was in early development. Later the name was changed to Master of Orion 2 so the game would be more easily recognized by consumers as the sequel to the award-winning original.

References

  • Loknar’s ship was christened as “Avenger”, exactly the same as the ship you need in X-COM to travel to Cydonia. Even the graphics are similar! Take a look at them and compare! Coincidence?
  • Another coincidence with X-COM? Perhaps the similarity between "Elerium" (the alien energy source from X-COM) and the "Elerians" (the matriarchal psychic race of Moo2) is intentional?
  • In another X-COM coincidence... both Master of Orion games as well as the first X-COM game have an alien race named "Silicoid", however the look of the creatures is very different between the two game series.
  • The Antaran Star Fortress (when you travel to their homeworld via Dimensional Portal) is commanded by a Ship Captain. His (her?) name is Xyphys, the Antaran Warrior, and has the following abilities: "Fighter Pilot* Helmsman* Ordnance* Security* Weaponry*" as noted in the moohero.lbx archive.
  • Phasers, food replicators, transporters, federation type government, the human leader being bald, charismatic and democratic and a few of the ship designs may be references to Star Trek:The Next Generation.

Awards

  • Origin Awards
    • 1996 - Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game

Information also contributed by Chris Martin, Dum Gri, lilalurl, NGC 5194, PCGamer77, Technocrat and WildKard.

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Tomer Gabel.

Macintosh added by Terok Nor.

Additional contributors: PCGamer77, Kalirion, David Ledgard, CaesarZX, Patrick Bregger, Dim Gri, MrFlibble, J D.

Game added August 4, 1999. Last modified January 31, 2024.