Ascendancy is a space-based, turn-based empire builder that reaches out and grabs you right from the start. Unlike other games in the genre requiring hours of play before the good stuff kicks in, this one gets you off to a running start that never slows down. You'll be up to your alien eyeballs in no time, experiencing the thrill of seemingly limitless empire building. Almost every decision and strategy depends entirely on your choices and "choices" are what makes Ascendancy so terrific. Moreover, the interface is so user friendly you can use both mouse and keyboard without penalty, although using the mouse is quicker. Even the visual effects of the 3D SVGA graphics are a real treat, and the music and digital sound effects are perfect for the game.
For a game that offers so much in the way of strategy and decision-making, you'd think the learning curve would be steep. Not so in this case. Ascendancy is so well constructed you won't need to waste time digging through the manual. The game uses an extensive and comprehensive system of on-line help and offers a complete set of detailed tutorials that cover nearly every thing you'll need to know to get into the action quickly. And "customization" is a word The Logic Factory took seriously. Not only do you have the incredible choice of mixing the twenty-one possible alien species before beginning, but setting winning conditions is also your call. Since each game uses only seven of the 21 alien races involved in any one game, you can do the math to figure out the astronomical number of possible combinations. Another excellent option is setting the size of the universe -- possibilities range from enormous vast reaches of space (long, involved game), to a tidy little space community (short, quick game). Like most empire-builders, Ascendancy has a technology tree that expands, and the level of detail is astonishing. You'll make hundreds of decisions in the areas of scientific research, production, industrial and resource management, labor allocations, diplomacy and trade, galactic expansion and defense requirements (the mix of colonization spacecraft vs. war ships), military domination or tactical retreat, customization of spaceships and more. Be prepared to invest large chunks of time when playing, because once you're hooked, the level of involvement makes time fly.
But, you ask, aren't there any problems with Ascendancy? A couple of minor gripes like missing dinner because of focused game play or too much space to explore with so little time. As you can see, coming up with legitimate complaints about Ascendancy is tough. From setup through implementation, this is one smooth and enjoyable operation. Ascendancy is one of those rare gems that is extremely easy to learn, yet deceptively difficult to master. Not only is the replay factor nearly unlimited but the added ingredient of wanting to replay Ascendancy is close to a sure thing.
Graphics: The superb 3D SVGA environment brings this universe alive with a wonderful collection of aliens, spacecraft, planets and galaxies to explore. Settlement close-ups are clear and amazingly detailed.
Sound: From music to sound effects -- it's classy all the way.
Enjoyment: One of the best, most completely entertaining and engaging space empire builders around.
Replay Value: Unlimited -- until you grow old and die.
Ascendancy is similar to, but nevertheless very different from, Master of Orion. You play one of many races, each with a special ability and special character traits, who set off to explore space, erect colonies (which can each have individual purposes, depending on their raw materials) and engage in battles when you clash with others who have the same goals. Weapons on the ships use power, which has to be supplied somehow.
This game introduces many original concepts, such as the Research Tree - a special scientific display in which discoveries are depicted as icons connected by lines to the "parent" technological breakthroughs and "child" ones, similar to the technology advances in Civilization, but presented in a much more visual way.
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Axis & Allies, Age of Mythology, Arcomage, Birthright: The Gorgon's Alliance, Avalon Hill's Squad Leader, Armada 2525: Deluxe Edition, Alien Legacy, Civil War Generals 2
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