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Jan 4, 2013

Endless Space PC Review

I love a good strategy game. Especially when they advertise high levels of customization. So I picked this up during the beta off of steam and dutifully worked to improve the title as it went.
Here is what went wrong.

1) Combat. Space Combat here is a 5 round Rock, Paper, Scissors, Lizard, Spock battle in which you choose from 8 cards. Each card has an Strong/Weak against item. Some of these "Tactics" will repair your ship, some make it harder to hit.
Here is the major problem. It turns the strategy portion of a game into a luck of the draw, and prevents any real time action from occurring. The result is if you are good, an under armed fleet can wipe out a major fleet, if you are unlucky the converse can happen.

2) Even on its largest setting, the galaxy is amazingly flat, with fewer star systems that you would think. Planets are assigned at random. Populaces on each of the planets suffer from chronic whining syndrome making you forced to stop and cater to their whims, which as a result of poor system balancing results in crushing economic disasters very similar to what the EU and US face today. Each system has a 1-6 planet pool of which there are a variety of resources to gather and negatives to overcome. The real unrealistic part of their model comes from settling some of the asteroids and gas giants. These planets by definition of their make up should be harvesting facilities or research areas. Instead they get treated like real colonies that must be catered to with entertainment because living on an airless lifeless rock is just so boring. An acceptable substitute would have been to make them facilities that traded with the real colony on another planet/space station (which you cannot build) or system. Unfortunately they didn't design their system with enough depth to account for this or to add it later.

3) AI, the enemy AI is pretty much the laziest since this type of game was conceived. They do not get more intelligent on higher difficulties, they get economic, happiness, and production boons to make them faster.

4) Civilization Like Victory settings. Each faction has its own desired type of win scenario. If you get close to theirs they get pissed off, no matter how long standing the peace and trade. Each Faction also drives mindlessly towards its goal and only react to outside stimuli such as boarder wars or you. Negotiating is all stat based, and you have to research those stats.

5) Worthless Heroes in battle, great in economy. Due to the Random nature of the battle, all heroes end up doing is making your Rock a stronger Rock to their Scissors. However in development of Star Systems, even the most battle hardened veteran is a boon to the growth. This shows where the team spent most of its development time. And they are expensive. It is impossible in small campaigns and difficult in larger ones to support enough Heroes to really be worth a crap.

6) Finally, R&D. With any game of this type R&D is always the best thing. With an expansive galaxy you might assume that each region would be able to specialize in a research type. Nope, again flat no depth code only allows you to research one thing at a time, although they did (eventually) add cuing research. Then there is the scale of the research map. It is ridiculously huge and benefits from exploiting one or two trees to the exclusion of one altogether, and cherry picking the third for resource identification. A better solution would have been to allow players to divide systems into R&D areas, and then allocate certain portions of the budget to each area resulting in growth in all fields, while maybe allowing players to pick one item at a time to really go after. Such idea however were not in keeping with Game Designer's ideas never mind this was suppose to be a "Player" driven creation.

All in all folks, save your money. Better games were made back in 2000. However if you are looking for just another pretty game here is one. I'd just save up and let this one fold up and blow away.

Verdict: 40/100

Genre Strategy
Style Empire-Building
Release Date July 2, 2012
Developer Amplitude Studios
Publisher Amplitude Studios
Flags Downloadable Release


Tim Olff said...

what is also interesting to note is that this game is almost a literal copy of a game called Galactic Civilizations II

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