The Galaxy is yours for the taking
In this fantastic 4 x game, which basically means explore, expand, exploit and exterminate, you will have the enormous task of conquering the known galaxy which is randomly generated every single time you load a new galaxy. Which I think is a really great feature.
With a massive choice of eight standard empires to enforce your brutal iron will upon, the unsuspecting xeno-morph life form's out there in the big bad dark galaxy, or build your very own civilization. Winning the game is long and hard and makes any marathon look like a trip to the local shops by comparison. This can be achieved by employing one of many tactics, bruit force and unrelenting blood thirst which will win the supremacy victory. Next, there is the hardest kind of victory, achieving the mastery of technologies to awe your opponents into submission, which requires the "Pan Galactic Society" technology that will get you the scientific victory. Next is the most interesting, in my opinion, is the expansion victory. This is achieved by conquering the vast majority of known space and settling every type of planet or surface your empire can inhabit. But you must be able to hold the ground your empire claims against foes and pirates, because if you slip beneath 75% control, this victory will not be able to be achieved, there are more victory types, but lets move on.
In the image above, you can see the different spheres of influence from the many races systems. When you populate a system, it will start off as an outpost and can be invaded without a declaration of war by anybody. After the set amount of turns has passed, it will change from an outpost to a colony, which is what you see in most of the systems above. The key visual difference is the colonies have a solid color border and a tinted transparent backdrop. On the other hand, the outpost only has an almost transparent ring around the system, see above image to the right hand side. The best defense in this option, is to set a fleet in orbit with the "guard system" option, which will automatically attack any fleet other than your own, entering the system. Until such a time the outpost reaches a colony status.
The graphics in the Unity engine are some of the most stunning visuals I have seen in a space 4x in a long time. The battle sequence is also different to most space games out there, it features 3 phases of battle. First is the long range battle, followed by medium range combat and last is melee combat. The way in which this works, is by selecting 3 different abilities to employ. Each one of which has a counter, for example, weapon jamming throwing your enemy's firing solutions out the window, which is a defensive tactic. This can be countered by a really super sneaky ninja style sabotage, such as an electromagnetic pulse to electrify the enemy's defenses. Many options will open up to you, depending on the race of your empire and technology level at any given time. Certain technologies can unlock further battle tactics which will be a necessary part of your expansion into a hostile galaxy. Also you can choose your fleet layout and if one is available, admirals. You will be prompted to choose from in the battle selection screen before the battle begins.
The eight empires available to you to choose from are as follows;
- United Empire the humans empire fairly balanced in all respects.
- The Sophons seek knowledge over power. If you're looking for a science nerd culture, you have found Dr Sheldon Cooper's wet dream. (The Big Bang Theory).
- The Hissho are decedents of birds, that have evolved to a hominid form that represents humans. They are masters of flight and seek dominance over all others.
- The Amoeba are a highly evolved form of a lower oceanic species that exceed at exploration, whist being militarily weak but good at diplomacy and trade.
- The Cravers are a race of ever hungry entities, that can consume entire worlds. They have one and only one purpose, to feed. Concepts like peace, trade or even treaty do not compute with these zombie space nuts.
- The Horatio are a race of clones, who were created by a mega rich brat that left his imperial home world for the stars. When he came across a planet with ancient cloning facilities, he got to work repopulating the planet with copies of himself, then came the stars. This fast paced, expanding race will be good to new comers to the game.
- Another race is the Sowers, the true Skynet of the stars. A machine race built by the Endless, at the dawn of the universe and time itself. They are simply following programing and making worlds habitable, then moving onto the next one. These entities are harmless, unless you get in the way of their mission, then they turn all T-800 on you and make you listen to "I'll be back", over and over and over. However, they are slow and effect a penalty on any planets they inhabit, without the required tech.
- Finally, the Pilgrims. A bunch of explorers and egg head scientists hijacked a United Empire mission, finally cracking the shits and throwing their toys out of the pram. They decided to set up a breakaway civilization, free of the monarch rule of the united empire. Aided by the Sophons, they view the Endless as a religious, God like statue, and hope to one day set foot on the exact place that the Endless were born into existence.
Upgrading ships is an intriguing part of empire defense, and should be among your top priorities. You can modify current builds with more amour, shields, beam weapons and so forth, but these upgrades require certain minerals, which also have to be unlocked by technology. The sheer size of the technology tree is immense, and non-lineal. My current game is around 110-120 turns and I've only completed 30% of the total technology tree. But the best part, is you can research any connecting tech or if you need to, switch from science to trade based tech at a whim.
Diplomacy is easy to use. Although, some treaties must be unlocked again and I'm hoping that I don't sound like a broken record, but it has to be done by researching technology. You'll face difficult negotiations with the other inhabitants over resources, or systems that you may have blockaded to colonize, then the sneaky buggers fly under the radar and colonize right under the fleet's nose.
To sum up, a kick ass game that hits all the high notes, and none of the low ones that fans expect of big multinational developers. I'm betting your jaw will drop when you find out this is an Indie game, and to boot, the best Indie game I have ever played in my life.
Endless Space is the one and only true answer to a space version of Sid Meier's Civilization series, for space nuts like pinky and the brain who, like me, dream of galactic domination
Just a quick free plug for the developer and publisher:
Developer: Amplitude Studios
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Please support the unbelievable talent that this developer has by getting a copy of this fantastic game. Parents take note, this game is indeed child safe for preteens and teens. The violence is restricted to the odd ship being blown up every so often.