Millennia: Altered Destinies is a game that not only delves into the areas of space travel and combat but deals heavily in the creation and alteration of alien civilizations. Your job is to seed planets to create a civilization that will be advanced enough to withstand the onslaught of the Microids. The only way the universe can survive is if you travel to the Echelon Galaxy of the past, create four separate species and help them defend themselves against the Microids. You have 10, 000 years to protect this galaxy from annihilation.
The alien ship in which you travel has several areas that all perform necessary functions. When you begin, you see the main view where you engage your engines to travel to different galaxies and time periods. The Navcom is the location used to track your position, chart a new course or select a time period in which to travel. The first thing you must do is go to a planet near the one occupied by the Microids and plant a seed of life to start the civilization. The seed is sent to the planet using the transport room; once the seeding takes effect, you "feel" a temporal storm that indicates time has been altered. You can witness where your civilization will be in the future by going to the Navcom and observing the Histograph. The game is complicated to say the least.
After life has been created, your task is to go to the time period in which the civilization has a crisis and assist. By talking to the people in the communications room, you find out what the problem is and how you can help. Then, from the dropship cockpit, you fight enemies or travel to the surface of the planet. You can control the fight in only two ways: target the enemy and fire your weapons. Certainly, allowing more control while in this mode would have improved gameplay. Although this isn't a major downfall of Millennia: Altered Destinies, it would have been nice to be able to search the surface of the planet more thoroughly. As it is, gameplay is fluent because everything is controlled in the same fashion (using the two visible onscreen hands).
This MS-DOS game has some errors associated with sound cards and Windows-based operating systems -- you must configure your sound card prior to playing. When you do this and use the auto detect feature, your computer may freeze entirely. In addition, after choosing your sound card, the game has problems starting in DOS. Although the beginning movie works fine, the errors begin when the actual game starts. Some major problems can crop up depending on certain sound cards. I tried running the game on two computers and, in order for it to work, had to click on the program icon in Windows (which is not recommended). The sound never worked perfectly but you could still play the game. The effort, though, can be worth it as Millennia: Altered Destinies a good enough game to possibly justify the annoyance.
As for gameplay, it's a very good feeling to be in total control of what planets get seeded and the locations of your next destination. The responsibility you have is great and it's literally up to you to figure out where to go next. The game is fantastic in that you have so many different areas of your ship and so many different places and times to navigate. The planets you seed cannot be left to their own devices -- you must help them out every step of the way.
When you look in the Histograph, you see a time outlined in red which means a crisis has occurred that destroyed a civilization. With every such occurrence, you must intervene by either destroying the enemy in your dropship or figuring out a knowledgeable way to help rectify the situation. Beyond just caring for one planet, you have to pay attention to four different species! It's hard enough to get them to stop fighting amongst themselves let alone destroy an enemy like the Microids. But in the end, they must all come together and, with your help, defend against the attack to save the Echelon Galaxy.
Millennia: Altered Destinies is a really good space strategy game. It may have some technical problems but overall it's very involved and complex. I can't think of any other game comparable to the scenario of this one. The game begins with a great plot and then lets you devise a way to save the universe through your actions! It's a very intense responsibility to not only be the savior of the universe but to hold the lives of millions in the palm of your hand as well. You can create or destroy your worlds but there's only one path to defeat the Microids. So tread carefully, try not to repeat mistakes from your last mission and prepare to alter the destiny of the entire universe.
Graphics: During the opening sequence and throughout the game, the graphics look a lot better the further you are away from the screen. When close up, the graphics are very grainy. The unique look of the ship and the different aliens is well done, though. During the game when you talk to your planets, you'll encounter aliens ranging from bug-like creatures to what appears to be a cross between man and polar bear.
Sound: I had many errors with the sound of this game but, if you can get past the problem, they are decent. You'll hear the calm voice of ANGUS giving you information along the way and different voices from the aliens you encounter. The MIDI music is not very good at all, however, and consists of systematic beeps that almost go together in a song.
Enjoyment: Since you can switch between so many different screens and travel to different planets all at your own whim, it's a very powerful and fun experience. The designers could have provided more options with the dropship cockpit and made a good game even better. Unfortunately, when in your dropship, you cannot travel anywhere you wish.
Replay Value: The replay value is high because every time you play the game it will be drastically different. Each planet's environment determines what type of creature you encounter, thus each new game starts with different races.
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