Master of Orion II (MOO2) tries to capitalize on the phenomenal success of the original by providing a new and exciting game while retaining the features we really enjoyed in the first. It mostly succeeds.
As you begin a game Of MOO2, a couple of things are immediately apparent. First, this is a bigger game. You now have more decisions to make concerning how large your game universe will be. You can even choose at what technology level you wish to enter the game. However, the most intriguing choice to most gamers will be the ability to custom build your race, choosing the racial advantages and disadvantages you want, rather than sticking with pre-defined races. This is a wonderful improvement over the original, though this does allow stat crunchers to perhaps grab a slight advantage over any of the pre-defined races.
Once you get into the game (after you've stopped ooo'ing and ah'ing over the new graphics and sound effects) you'll find a game that plays remarkably like the original MOO. You are still in charge of your empire's production, research, and exploration. You still get to design your own fleets and ships, utilizing the newest technologies you've researched or discovered. In fact, you still get to play with all of the features you had in the original! The only difference you'll find is that there is now more of everything making this a very enjoyable game. They even eliminated the number one complaint about the original MOO, by including multi-player play (and once you've trounced the computer players a few times, you'll relish the idea of trouncing your best friends).
The only place the game seems somewhat lacking is in the diplomacy system. In the original MOO, diplomacy and trading were viable strategies for winning. You could, if lucky and skilled, go an entire game with very little combat; building your economic might through trade and expansion, and becoming more and more popular on a galactic level. This seems to be next to impossible in MOO2. While the diplomatic interface now sports more options and features, the AI no longer seems to favor this sort of player.
So, with almost entirely positive comments, why do I rate this game lower than the original? Because in the end, while an excellent game, it just lacks that particular oomph the original had. Perhaps, being a sequel, it couldn't have the same impact as being something completely new. Never the less, MOO2 is a great game, guaranteed to provide many hours of entertainment.
Editors Note: After the initial release of this game, several patches were created for it and made available to users. The most recent patch (which updates the game to version 1.31) corrects issues with AI diplomacy to make expansion through trade and negotiation a more viable player strategy. The patch also improves the balance of racial characteristics, allows players to name and save their custom races, and fixes several minor programming bugs.
Graphics: Graphics were much improved over the previous version. A very good update.
Sound: Sound is much more prevalent than in the original and nicely augments the gaming experience.
Enjoyment: An enjoyable game that kept many of the things we loved about Master of Orion while adding enough new enhancements to be worthwhile.
Replay Value: When you throw multi-player play, the replayability of this game is practically endless.
Legends speak somewhere in space of the mystical planet Orion. Created by the Ancients, it remains unclaimed due to a powerful Guardian that orbits the planet and keeps out intruders. These same Ancients long ago fought a war against the Antarans and banished them into another dimension. Now... long after the Ancients empire has vanished, new races take to the stars, wishing to establish their own star empires, defeat the Antarans and become... The Master of Orion.
Master of Orion II: Battle At Antares is a turn-based 4x space empire game and is the sequel to Master of Orion, reinterpreting that game from scratch. Unlike the original the game can be played single player or with other human players. The player takes the role of a ruler of one of 8 races. They must manage planet resources to build ships and facilities, improving producion. Exploration of the galaxy is done via scouts and colony ships, which can establish new planets as part of the empire. Research must also be done to discover and utilize new technologies. Alien civilizations which are encountered can be negotiated with, or ships can engage in combat in a turn-based grid system. As new systems are explored, random events are triggered and strange artifacts found in orbit around unexplored planets. Wormholes can also be found which allow transport across dozens of parsecs into new star systems.
The game can be won in different ways: Through conquest of all other races, Being voted supreme leader of the galaxy or destruction of the Antarans race.
People who downloaded Master of Orion 2: Battle at Antares have also downloaded:
Master of Orion, Master of Orion 3, Civilization 2, Master of Magic, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Heroes of Might and Magic 4, Star Trek: TNG: Birth of the Federation, Sid Meier's Civilization IV
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