Omnitrend's Universe is an incredibly detailed and complex science fiction role-playing game strongly reminiscent of the original Traveller hard science fiction pen-and-paper role-playing game, the likes of which have not been seen since. It is based in the same fictional universe as Omnitrend's well-regarded Rules of Engagement (1991-93) and Breach (1987-95) series, and was the basis for two sequels, Universe II (1987) and Universe 3 (1989).
Running in the same vein as games like Elite (1985), Starflight (1989) and SunDog: Frozen Legacy (1984) (as well as more modern ones like the X: Beyond the Frontier series (1999-2005)), its gameplay involves freelance space exploration, trading, space combat, planetary mining, and other economic activities. However, where its similarly-themed contemporaries focused on graphical interfaces and, to varying degrees, action, Universe was sparing with graphics and left more to the imagination, instead focusing on deep gameplay, strategic elements, and sophisticated modeling. Indeed, at least half of gameplay is conducted via textual menus.
What can I say? Not my type of game simply because you start the game with no clue of what to do. I did find out that Universe is a very detailed game where you have to explore and trade in an unknown universe with your spaceship.
There are several different spaceships you can view detailed specifications on as well as a drawing of how it looks like (because of the age of the game this isn't very well looking). While fanatics of this game might find it great that so many details are included it will without doubt scare away the average game fan which is a bit sad since Universe does beat similar games in this genre regarding offering details and options regarding the building of the spaceship and specification for each ship as well.
I would not recommend Universe to many people since it's simply too hard to learn playing and when both the controls and graphics aren't good either it's very hard to get started. But for the space exploration game fan with a lot of patience Universe might be worthwhile to check out.
M. Evan Brooks' review says it all about Universe 1: "A detailed simulation of space exploration and trading. Multi-faceted and very deep, its playability suffered from documentation which was hard to interpret as well as an unforgiving game system. Build your own ship to specifications, but a wrong move can waste hours of previous play. Still it was one of the early classics. " Unfortunately for armchair commanders, Universe 2 and 3 became more similar to RPGs with strategy playing only a minor role, but still great games nonetheless.
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