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SummarySemi-Successful Blend of Master of Orion and Master of Magic
The GoodM002 instantly appeals to those who've grown bored of Master of Orion's simplistic colony management. The elegant but bland production bars are tossed in favor of buildings and queues, a la CIV and Master of Magic. The Technology advances are FUN - for example, new forms of government, the capability to create new planets from asteroid fields, and a stellar converter that rips them in half.
Designing ships is implemented well - there are lots of options and opportunities to build ships for many different purposes. Ships are no longer "grouped" - they are formed into fleets but each one can be controlled separately in combat. Obsolete designs no longer must be scrapped - they can be refitted.
Diplomacy is top-notch, and espionage works well. And nothing seems wrong with the AI.
The BadMultiplayer is just awful. SimTex fans have been clamoring for it for so long - and it just stinks. The main culprit is the horrible multiplay code - it'll feel like play by email even on a lan. What aggravates this is that 10 turns may pass in MOO2 without much happening for a player. In singleplayer, autoskip can be used to skip turns until something happens, but waiting for other people to complete 5 turns when you have absolutely nothing to do is unbearable. And I was so looking forward to a Master of Something done with multiplayer. *sigh* If you really have your hopes up and must try - set up a one on one game.
The Heroes don't add much to the game - they just add bonuses to your ships and planets. In Master of Magic they may have been unbalancing, but here they're just boring.
Oh yes, and the creative skill. Don't get me started. One of the race attributes, creative, allows the race to discover every technology, where other races can only take home 1/3 to a half at their choosing. It's an expensive trait (requiring a lot of race picks when customizing a race) but it still unbalances the game so much it's difficult to play a non-creative race after playing a creative one. Creative should have made research move at a slower, but more thorough, pace.
The Bottom LineNow I'm pissy and don't remember why I said this game was semi-successful.
But I shouldn't be so harsh - MOO2 is still fun to play dispite its flaws, and is only a letdown because of what I've come to expect from SimTex.