Star General, the fourth game in SSI's Five Star General series, features battles between war faring planets and adds an element of empire building to the basic strategic gameplay of previous titles. The engine, first used in Panzer General, refined in Allied General, and further expanded in Fantasy General with the addition of spells, serves as the basis for this turn-based, space-based strategy title.
While most battles occur in space, gameplay centers on planets scattered around the map. Structures produce various types of military units, research labs increase technology levels, and planets provide necessary revenue. Success depends on developing the planet's infrastructure as well as fleets. Large and powerful fleets lead to space domination, but ground units must be built and transported to other empires for ground superiority and conquest. Victory consists of meeting specific winning conditions within scenarios, or an empire dominating more than half the map in an open-ended mode. No campaign option is available.
The empire building aspect isn't entirely successful, as not enough options are provided for planet buildup, and most of gameplay is spent in space dealing with the other empires. The simplistic diplomacy mode involves giving money to other empires in the hopes they won't attack. No threats or alliances are possible, making this aspect extremely weak and nearly useless. The AI is remarkably incompetent, and the only way to enjoy a real challenge is to allow it to get a head start of several turns before building your own empire.
Although Star General suffers from an anemic AI and a shallow empire-building layer that feels tacked on, strong turn-based strategy elements at its core offer enjoyable gameplay.
OVERALL RATING: 5
Take control of The Fleet (humans), the Khalians, or five other races as you battle for control of the local cluster with your fleet and conquer enemy planets with your group troops. Build research centers to obtain better ships. Use your racial special unit to gain advantage on the ground or in space. Play random map or one of the built-in scenarios that can vary from one ship vs. one ship to full galactic war (variable galaxy sizes). Are you worthy of the title Star General?
Star General can be best described as "Panzer General in Space". Turn-by-turn, the ships in Star General move exactly like the ground units move in Panzer General. "Spatial features" like nebula, cosmic string, and such work exactly like "terrain" on earth. Even the combat mechanics are nearly identical, where ships are rated in missile and beam values, like the ground units are rated in hard vs. soft assault values. It has several novel features though. Inclusion of a full AI capable of playing to death instead of relying on turn-limits is a first. Having the ground units land on planets after the space war concluded and fight a separate ground battle. Research is minimal (only 4 generic levels) and ships cannot be customized. This game is Panzer General with a space theme.
People who downloaded Star General have also downloaded:
Pacific General, Fantasy General, Allied General, Panzer General, Panzer General 2, People's General (a.k.a. Dynasty General), Panzer General 3: Scorched Earth, Panzer General for Windows 95
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