|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Stardock||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Stardock||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 5, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
One new ship in particular will literally blow you away. It's the Terror Star. Like the new map, this thing is friggin' huge. I mean way huge. It's incredibly resource heavy, costing tons of money and lots of time and research. But it's worth the effort. It's not just capable of taking out an entire fleet, and it's not just capable of taking out a planet either. It will destroy an entire sun, taking out all surrounding planets, satellites, and civilizations. As fun as this sounds, it's not such an easy project to construct. You can't try to build the Terror Star in a hurry. The amount of resources it requires will leave you unable to defend yourself from attack. Instead, you have to relegate time and money to it a little at a time. Kind of like restoring a classic car in your garage over the winter.
Or you can build it when you're holding all the chips as kind of a universe-size finishing move. But just because you have a Terror Star, doesn't mean you're invulnerable. It's big, clunky, slow, and takes a lot of time to do anything. A faster and more aggressive race can get between you and your King Kong and turn you into space ghosts if you don't have sufficient defenses.
Each race has its own technology tree. This really gives the game a lot of depth, as well as replay value. When you play as different races, the entire perspective of the game changes due to the tech tree. You can even make changes to the race that you're playing by accessing different options on the tech tree. It takes into account all races' various distinctions, such as history, philosophy, military and diplomatic policies, biology, culture, and ethics to name a few. All the technologies are laid out linearly. A series of objectives must be met before you can progress to the next branch. Advances in weapons, ships, industry, trade, colonization, and diplomacy in and of themselves are not necessarily unique to each race, but they are laid out in different orders on the tree and have different aspects that make them unique. For example, the Krynn will have features available to them that can be installed on ships to help them convert the masses to their religion. The Korath will have technologies available that will supplement their acquisition of slaves to provide free labor.
Another new feature is the victory condition known as Ascension. Players can build star bases around Ascension crystals that are scattered throughout the galaxy. There are only a few of these, five to be exact. The longer you can keep your base around these crystals, the more points you will earn toward your Ascension victory. These bases require resources in the form of defense, since they can't be upgraded. It's not the most chivalrous way to win the game, but it does add another dimension to the gameplay.
Graphically, the game looks amazing. The ships are incredibly detailed and diverse. Each race has distinct vehicles, with hundreds of different parts that can be mixed and matched. You can also obtain tons of information about anything with a few clicks on the interface. Planets can be zoomed-in on for more detailed surveillance of the environment. And as huge as the map is, there isn't a lot of open, empty space. There's always something interesting popping up on the screen. You're going to be busy with this game. The music is more varied than the last expansion pack. It's rich and orchestral. Very classy and epic. The sound effects almost rival those of Star Wars. The explosions sound as good as they look.
If you're looking for something to do with the rest of your life, you might want to check this game out. If this game had a dedicated multiplayer mode, I would want to live forever.
CCC Senior Writer