by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
I need a hero! (cntd.)
The diplomatic system is richly furnished with a great number of options. Like any other part of the game, most diplomatic actions first need to be researched. Only war can be declared as soon as you meet another faction and does not require any research. Other factions are often eager to form alliances, especially when strong alliances are forming around them and their attitude towards you is positive. Both (potential) allies and foes do regular checkups to see where you stand in the military food chain. This checkup is one of several influencers of the attitude of opposing factions. Oddly enough, there is no way to gauge the military strength of AI players yourself, even if you can get – some – idea from their overall ranking.
Any complaints of the interface stop with that tiny hiccup though. No matter whether you are engaged in diplomacy, battle, research or empire management, navigating through the game is both easy and enjoyable. Everywhere you look there are little tidbits of information but never gets in the way or smother the screen. Every screen has been laid out in such a way that it is easy to use and understand and tooltips give ample information about whatever you are trying to figure out.
Picking a race becomes easier when you have played a couple of games. This is not because you understand the effects of the perks and disadvantages better, but because they feel somewhat meaningless. Most perks have only a very modest impact on how you play your game. In addition, research is the same for every race, making the most tangible difference between races their ship aesthetics. While these make a valiant and notable attempt to make each race feel unique, I would have loved to see more in this area.
Turn performance is a small source of worry, especially on larger maps. Amplitude has worked diligently on improving performance since the Beta and have made good progress already. Before, changing turns on large maps was so slow that you could fit a toilet break in between but in the full game turns are processed noticeably faster. While longer annoying, a bit more tinkering on turn performance would benefit the game, especially for people playing the game on less powerful machines.
And while the game is polished up to the point that you need sunglasses to peer at it and filled to the brim with features and gameplay, there is one thing where it feels a bit lacking and that is ‘soul’. Interaction with other factions or your own heroes feels a little methodical, almost clinical. Most of that is because of the static artwork that serves to depict diplomats and heroes. It does not hamper the game in any way but a few animations could have done a lot to bring the game alive, especially when animated by same the team that created the fantastic animations seen during combat.
The tides have turned on Turn-based
My heart kept thumping in loud excitement during my first hours of playing Endless Space. I loved Sins of a Solar Empire, but it was real-time. Endless Space is turn-based and very close to Master of Orion, the yet unsurpassed granddaddy of space-themed 4X strategy games. There hasn’t been any game like this for years, at least not of this quality, not with this intricate depth and not with this level of polish and the small niggles I listed previously do not detract from that in any way. Endless Space is a glorious return to form for a much beleaguered genre that was given up by many for not being ‘modern enough’. Does it displace MOO? It doesn’t, but boy does it ever come close.
Great depth, fantastic looking combat, gameplay that will keep you busy for months.
Races could be more unique.