Space Empires V

Moby ID: 25590
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Space Empires V is the fifth main game in the Space Empires series. Established as a 4X game, the SE series is similar to games such as Master of Orion, Galactic Civilizations, and Emperor of the Fading Suns.

SE5 has an updated UI, new ship design system, and is "mod" friendly. This edition also features the ability to watch battles unfold in detail.

SE5 shares with its predecessor the ability to completely customize your vehicles, and random map generation, but goes on to improve upon the old design by adding 24-bit 3D graphics, the ability to create your own AI players with specific traits, abilities, and speech, and an improvement in the number of ship designs and sizes.


  • Космическая Империя 5 - Russian spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

70 People (68 developers, 2 thanks) · View all



Average score: 66% (based on 16 ratings)


Average score: 3.1 out of 5 (based on 6 ratings with 2 reviews)

Less than solid entry.

The Good
I will admit that I am a bit of a fan of the Space Empires series. The previous games (including Star Fury) have satiated my 4X hungers on numerous occasions, ever since the Master of Orion series - sadly - kicked the bucket some years ago.

Which brings me to Space Empires V. I gave it a shot and I was a little disappointed. I'll get to the bad parts soon, but since I'm in "The Good" presently, I'll get to those bits first.

Gameplay-wise, it's pretty similar to Space Empires IV. This is a good thing as SE4 is probably one of the best 4X strategy games made in the 2000-2009 decade. It's just...well, I'll save that for the next section.

On to the graphics. Of all the work done on this game, this is definitely the biggest improvement of the whole series. The system view is stunning. It's even better with fan mods, but I'm not really reviewing those, of course. In addition the 3D tactical combat screens are big improvements over SE4's. If you have some decent kit, you can really crank up the number of units in combat. Watching 40,000 individual space fighters dogfight each other is...well, nuts. In a good way, of course. Just don't even think of trying it on a low end machine though.

Actually, combat itself is a big improvement over the last game, even without the improved graphics. In SE4 it was pretty close to being a large scale Master of Orion 1-style experience (no damage arcs, etc.). Again, not that any resemblances to the first two MOO games are bad, but Simtex did get around to addressing damage arcs in the sequel. However, this time around, things are a little better. There is some specific weapon location support in SE5, and weapon/damage arcs are a little better supported through mods (but, again, I'm not reviewing them here). If you have a single ship-on-ship situation, you can maneuver around the other ship in order to get a better firing solution if you can out turn your foe. It's pretty cool. Actually, you could do it with more than one ship under your control, but manually adjusting your strategy with a large force is a pain.

I keep mentioning mods, and they are really critical as a positive. Considering that little of the non-UI/graphics content has changed since the last game (see "The Bad"), mods are vitally important if you want to inject some freshness into the game. The default game is fine, but some of the mods - without taking up too much of your time here - are pretty amazing.

Also the music was pretty good overall. Not as good as Ascendancy's soundtrack (which is still phenomenal 15 years on) but it's a lot better than MOO2's generally. No individual tune for the races, but that's not really a problem.

The Bad
Now on to the bad parts. While the game looks and sounds much better than it's immediate predecessor, it doesn't play as well, from a variety of standpoints.

First, the bugs. Oh Great Ghu the bugs. It's been out for 4 years or so and they are still patching it. Not that that's a bad thing (developers should support their products with a will), but its still unstable. In my case, I've been unable to finish a game against the computer. Not because it has a great, near-sapient AI or anything, it doesn't (actually it's probably worse than SE4's). It's because I get into a game and it freezes up 30-50 turns into it, like clockwork, whenever the AI is processing something on its turn. Maybe its more stable in Real Time/Simultaneous Mode/whatever-they-call-it-these-days, but I have no interest in a real time empire management game. I can barely muster the will to play the Homeworld games these days, for pete's sake, and that's high-quality real time strategy minus the imperial micro-management. I always try to play through an entire game before I post a review and I wasn't able to in this case, despite trying repeatedly. This one negative alone makes up for a lot of the (numerous) positives I mentioned in the section above.

It doesn't really help that the interface is so cumbersome, either. I didn't notice any appreciable difference between SE4 and SE5 in terms of features, to be honest with you. And yet, the dev team somehow has made it slightly harder to access stuff.

And the interface is a little bit bloated, to boot. Apparently one fan mod reduced the size of the interface to 50MB, from the 150MB it takes up in its default state. That's a pretty good chunk of memory to devote to the UI, though not as much as it was a few years ago. Most of the popular mods for the game are around 50-100MB in size, at least that I've encountered. A lot of the data for the game isn't compressed, which is great for mod editing but not so great when you're trying to utilize your system resources efficiently.

A smaller issue is that many of the techs and components in the game are pretty similar to the one's in SE4, just this time they are in 3D. There could have been some more work done on this end to freshen the title up some more, perhaps something that could have taken advantage of the 3D engine a little more.

The Bottom Line
It's sort of a hard call. If you want a good multiplayer game with a fair number of mod options, I guess this would be a good pick as you could cut down on the AI-related crashes that way, probably. And killing your friends with the aforementioned swarms of ships (in 3D) would be pretty fun, I have to admit.

If you want a solid single player 4X experience, then skip this one and take a look at Space Empires IV or some of the other 4X-style game series out there, as SE5's AI is just too buggy to get a decent game out of in its current state. Go with SE4 if you want a slightly simpler interface, as well.

So, yeah, the bottom line. If you never play against the AI and can swing a clunky interface, then it's just fine, and recommended. Otherwise don't bother.

EDIT: Just before I submitted my review, I did some research on SE5 and it's bugs. Though I had said it was buggy and I still honestly think it is, some people mentioned that they haven't had any problems with the game whatsoever. Apparently the problems I have been having may be due to playing in a large-sized galaxy, which is apparently so resource intensive that the game simply gives up the ghost if it goes on for any length of time (an inevitability, given the size of the playing field with a large galaxy). Apparently in both single and multiplayer situations Small and Medium galaxies are fairly stable, at least in comparison. But it still doesn't change the fact that if you include a noteworthy feature in your game that it should work, or if it doesn't then it should at least be pliable enough to keep your session from crashing if you do pick it.

Windows · by Longwalker (723) · 2010

Complete Junk

The Good
I bought it because of the hype. It is related to Space Empires IV.

The Bad
It does not work. You cannot play it without a fan made mod. It came out in 2006. I bought it when it came out. It is still being patched. The latest patch, version 1.77, came out on December 23, 2008. It cannot be played for more than a few hours total because of crashing even with fan made mods and a galaxy with no more than 20 star systems. It will last about 30 minutes longer if you do not use diplomacy. Diplomatic relations, treaties, alliances, all that good stuff just do not work and make it crash faster. It is not 3d. The ship models themselves are 3d but the game renders them and everything else like sprites. Compared to pc games that are 3d from ten years ago this game is not 3d. I have always attempted to play it on the 3d setting. I attempted to play it on a Intel Core 2 Duo 1.89 Ghz computer with XP Home SP2 and SP3 and with Vista Home premium, all 32-bit. 3 Gigs of RAM, 2 Gigs as far as the OS's are concerned. Nvidia 8800GT and Nvidia 9600GTX graphic cards with a 650 watt power supply.

The Bottom Line
This is not a game. This is complete junk. Get Space Empires IV if you want this. If you have Space Empires IV then don't get this. You will be massively disappointed. I have finally donated the cd, box, and manual to a garbage can.

Windows · by D H (2) · 2008


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by D Michael.

Additional contributors: Klaster_1.

Game added December 25, 2006. Last modified March 17, 2024.