In the honored tradition of Master of Orion and Pax Imperia comes Space Empires IV. An apt pupil of contemporary advances in empire-building turn-based strategy games, Space Empires IV features an intuitive interface and several options for extensive customization. Players will design ships for exploration, defense, and conquest, direct their Empires' research and diplomatic affairs, and oversee construction efforts at all production centers.
Space Empires IV includes many pre-designed races but also features an option that lets players make complete customizations to their own race statistics as well as those of their opponents. Graphics and portraits can also be customized and new ship "skins" are available at many of the game's unofficial, fan-operated websites.
Space Empires IV features 3D rendered race portraits and ship graphics. The game may be run in 800x600 or 1028x768 display modes. Most of the game's data files are in simple text format, allowing gamers an even deeper level of customization options (of course, users choose to edit system files at their own risk). Multiplayer options let up to 20 human or computer players to compete at once and the game allows for either traditional, turn-based gameplay or simultaneous action.
This Gold version of Space Empires IV features several revisions to the originally released version, many inspired by fan feedback and some straight from the imagination of the game's designer. Notable among the improvements are features designed to offer more extensive options and simplified procedures for race and gameplay customizations.
For the most part when a game is re-released as a "Gold" game my thoughts immediately race to games that are released time and again with a new level added or a few multiplayer maps. (Half-Life seems to be a huge culprit when it comes to this.) So when Space Empires IV Gold (SE4G) hit my desk, I rolled my eyes and sighed, "Whoopee, another Gold compilation," then quickly went back to whatever I was doing. (Sleeping, I think.) The original sucked a large number of hours out of my life and burned more brain cells than I could safely spare -- it nearly turned into a minor addiction. I was able to break from its grasp when I formatted my hard drive without backing up anything and it never got reinstalled because my wife had hidden the game. After installing SE4G my addiction has gotten worse.
Besides the expected graphical and audio additions and upgrades, SE4G has a number of user-created mods (over 200 megs worth!) and an easy way to launch them (if you read the instructions). By itself SE4G has a near limitless number of gameplay hours, but then you throw in the mods, and it suddenly becomes even more limitless. (Yeah, I know it sounds like the inane "infinity plus one" catchphrase -- I'm just trying to illustrate a point.) Although the mods are different from SE4 the fundamental controls remain consistent so you don't have to relearn a new set every time you try different mod. Also included on the disc are some handy articles to help the novice mod maker.
The enemy AI is quoted as being "improved" but I didn't notice. I thought the AI of the original was just fine, but then I'm not a die-hard 4X kind of person even though I'm easily hooked on them.
Even though the original had tons of options and details to handle, SE4G adds one or two more but they don't get in the way of the seasoned player jumping in. Players just picking up SE4G have some learning to do, but the tutorials have been carried over and the manual has been rewritten to make the learning process as smooth as possible.
In the end, SE4G delivers a good update and new content. Plus, it's rock solid and you don't need a muscled computer to make it run. If you're interested in turn-based 4X space strategy, you can't go wrong with Space Empires IV Gold.
People who downloaded Space Empires 4: Gold have also downloaded:
Space Empires V, Space Colony, Master of Orion 3, Space Conquest, Sid Meier's Alpha Centauri, Railroad Tycoon 2: Platinum, Star Trek: Starfleet Command 3, StarCraft
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