Enter isolated skirmishes and large-scale battles, on the surface of strange planets and in the void of deep space through Imperium Galactica II: Alliances, a sequel to the 1996 3D real-time strategy. The game is designed to provide a broad, seamless galaxy for players to explore, colonize, defend, and conquer on their own terms. A variety of options allow players to focus on the aspects of gameplay they find most appealing while the computer handles other duties and micro-management.
The game combines elements of classic empire-building games like Master of Orion and groundbreaking real-time strategy titles like Homeworld into a new, more comprehensive experience of space faring culture. Three races vie for control in this universe; the inquisitive humans, the militaristic Kra'hen, and the diplomatic Shinari. Each seeks to capitalize on its strengths and perhaps exploit the weaknesses of the others, though each has its own unique end goal. Players can guide any of the three through a fully developed storyline whose final chapter they ultimately will determine themselves.
Some games are easy classified by genre; some are a mixture of standard genres. Imperium Galactica is one of the latter. It could be described as a potpourri of a creation sim, a game of exploration and a 3D real-time strategy. The ultimate goal is creating a space empire and achieving supremacy over all other races. You can do this either by using raw power, diplomacy or trade...
Initially, you have to choose one of the three races available that you will lead during the rest of the game. Each of the races has its own features as well one specially enhanced characteristic, which will usually influence the tactics you will have to choose. The authors claim that it is virtually impossible to play the same game twice because the campaigns are randomly generated (If anyone out there is sufficiently persistent to try that out he might let us know if it is true;).
You start the campaign with only one planet, a small fleet and some credits to finance your empire. First, you will have to explore the surrounding space in order to find planets suitable for colonization. Each planet will be a colony for itself. The people (or whatever you choose instead of them) will inhabit it only if its living conditions are good. If you keep building only industrial and military complexes the people will become unhappy and start leaving the planet. This is why you will have a great number of civilian objects at your disposal. The more content your citizens are the higher taxes they will be willing to pay. The taxes can be set for each planet individually, or for the whole empire. If you set the taxes too high or make the people unhappy for some other reason they will start rebelling, which will induce additional expenses.
You will often have to use diplomacy and espionage in settling scores. Diplomacy allows you to solve disputes in a peaceful manner. Your diplomatic stance will depend on your overall power: You will be an equal partner in deals with those of approximately same strength; you will be able to put those weaker than you under pressure, or grovel before those who are in advantage. Diplomacy also allows you to exchange or trade technologies and planets.
Espionage will allow you to reach certain information that you wouldn't be able to acquire in another way. If your spies get caught, however, you can get in some trouble, and if you send too many spies to one empire it will probably declare war on you. Apart from gathering information your spies can also be used for various offensive actions on foreign grounds: they can sabotage buildings, ships, or even attempt assassinations. You will need spies for completing a great number of your quests. Spies are recruited at intelligence centers. Spies have a level and experience and you can even make them "specialize" in some actions. This will also help you assign their duties; for instance it would be stupid to send a spy with low infiltration and high counter intelligence capabilities into an enemy base.
You will have to build up a mighty fleet if you mean to protect your territory and expand throughout space. This is why you will need space-ship factories and research centers where the scientists research new technologies. If you are not satisfied with a ship's design, you can modify it by attaching different types of weaponry or equipment that you have researched by then. Once you have upgraded a model, you can upgrade all ships of that type, provided you have the financial means to support it. Apart from combat vessels you can also build terraforming and colonization ships.
Once it comes to a clash between two opposing fleets, the game will transform into a real-time strategy. There are two types of ships - capital ships and fighters. You can only control the capital ships, whilst the fighters act on their own accord. Before the battle commences you are allowed to choose one of the strategies that you can use, which basically means deploy your ships in a certain formation. This segment of the game looks a bit like Homeworld, but it is not as good.
Ground battles (occurring when someone attacks a planet) have been made to look like real-time strategies too, but they are far behind any contemporary RTS. Their goal is the destruction of all enemy structures and gaining complete control aver the planet. There are few units available, so it just comes down to several types of tanks (offensive) and some more tanks and towers (defensive units).
In the course of the game you will be assigned various quests. Someone may sell you information on an ancient civilization far more advanced than your own, and finding it would raise your science and technology level. If you happen to wage war against pirates (a highly expensive operation), you will be able to end it by marrying the shrewish daughter of the pirate leader. These quests make the game much more dynamic. It will also require you to decide upon your moves most cautiously, for if you loose paste your enemies will overrun you.
The quality of graphics varies from situation to situation. The main screen (where you spend the most time) and the static screens (for diplomacy, espionage and trade) look great, but the battle screens (both in space and on ground) don't look that good. The authors probably disregarded graphics as a less important factor in a game like this and diverted their attention towards the main engine. The cut-scenes are one of the best I have ever seen. The graphics are altogether far from being perfect, but I believe that they will satisfy anyone who likes to play this type of a game. As for the people who like their screens to use all the available colors of a 32bit palette at once and all the time, and enjoy having at least 81726 FPS even though their eyes are not capable of catching more than 30 - they should just stick to FPS.
The sound and music are pretty good. I especially liked the digitized voices in the game - all the characters you meet during a game will have their unique voices. The music and sound effects provide a great atmosphere for conquering the space.
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