Reviews for Galactic Civilizations II: Ultimate Edition
Expansive and Entertaining, with a splash of humourConorEngelb | July 11, 2013 | See all ConorEngelb's reviews »
This is my kind of game: slow-moving, methodical, requires forward-planning. Imagine a Sid Meier's Civ game set in space, only with alien races instead of civilisations. For me, the best part is designing my own civilisation. What benefits they get (hyper-intelligent, lucky super breeder, thank you oh so very much), what my politic party is (universalists: because I want to conquer the universe), choosing a portrait (fluffy teddy bear, obviously) and finally a name (Fluffy Teddy Bears of DOOM). Colonising planets in your efforts to gain dominion over the galaxy brings some moral quandaries in the form of random events: do you enslave or relocate the unevolved locals? What about those highly evolved deadly sea creatures? The ethical scale brings with it some bonuses for being extremely good, evil or a masterful fence-sitter.
An Expansive 4X With Extraordinary CombatIAmUnaware | June 21, 2013 | See all IAmUnaware's reviews »
For those who don't know, 4X stands for "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate". It's used to designate games like Civilization or Master of Orion that begin with a single colony and a few units and end with an empire that spans the world (or galaxy).
So it's a bit like Civilization in space (hence the name). You start with one little colony, a mining ship, and a scout ship, and you expand out settling and conquering new worlds while building toward one of the five victory types. But it's much more involved than Civ. There are many different races and even a custom race creator, and each race has custom buildings and ship parts as well as a tech tree that differs from the others, in some cases drastically. You have a huge breadth and depth of technologies to research, a number of economic and industrial concerns, and a population reaching into the trillions that must be kept happy. The game comes with a number of scenarios to keep things fresh and provide replay value, but even just the default game easily has hundreds of hours of play time in it. It's also incredibly moddable. It's almost trivial to design your own scenarios, add your own ship parts and races, and so on. The game is fantastic for dedicated 4Xers, but it does have a level of complexity and micromanagement that might be offputting to some. It's not as complex as Master of Orion, but it is more so than Civ, so keep that in mind when purchasing.
Now that that's out of the way, I want to talk about my favorite part: the ships. There are dozens of technologies devoted solely to ship design, and each of these techs unlocks various ship parts such as engines, life support systems, defensive arrays, and of course weapons. The game provides a set of predefined ship designs made of these parts that grows as you do more and more research, but you can get far more efficient and specialized ships by creating your own designs. You can build ships piece by piece, attaching each engine and weapon yourself, allowing you to create the perfect freighter or fighter for you current needs. This aspect of the game alone adds tremendous depth. Add to this the fact that there are three different types of basic weapons systems and three different types of defenses against them, and you can see that tremendous gains can be made by carefully fine-tuning your fleet's warships. Giant capital cruisers armed with hundreds of points of missile and beam weapons facing swarms of tiny fighters equipped with the latest in evasive technology and point defense systems, long range freighters and miners escorted by heavily armed but barely mobile space stations... if you're a space combat nerd like me, this game is a godsend.
This is my favorite 4X. If you're even a little bit into space exploration or fleet micromanagement or if you've just played a Civ game and you're looking for something with a bit more depth and complexity, I couldn't make a better recommendation than Galactic Civilizations 2.