Wednesday, June 5, 2013

PC Endless Space In Depth Review


    (Please note that I couldnt take screenshots of this game myself so I needed to use different sources)

Endless Space is a Sci-Fi 4x Turn-Based Strategy game for the PC developed and created by Amplitude studios. For those not familiar with 4x games, 4x means explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate. If you are fimiliar with the Civilization and Master of Orion series, then Endless Space will make you feel right at home with like-mechanics.
    Endless Space comes with many things, like Multiplayer, the ability to use Mods with a Mod option, customizable Factions, randomly generated maps, and replayability for, well, a very long time.

        NEW GAME
    You can jump right in the game when you click New Game. Ill describe how this screen acts. On the left side, it shows Galaxy. You can pick what kind of map you want under Shape and you can change how many Stars are in the galaxy by changing the Size option. Empires is how many people you want to play against. Age is how old or young you want the Stars in the galaxy to be.
   
    In the middle, it shows Empire. This is your faction. You can change your faction by clicking on your factions picture. There are 9 pre-loaded factions to first play as and against, including a random option. On the right you can see the option "Add". This allows you to create your own Faction, with a number of added traits! I will get into the Faction creator later though.
   
   
    Back to the New Game screen, next to your Faction is a number of Traits that you get in-game. If you hover of them you can see what each trait does whether beneficial or detrimental .You can also choose what color you want to be represented as.
   
    On the right, it shows Settings. You can select the difficulty of the AI and change how fast or slow you want the game to be.There are also Advanced Settings which can turn the various Victories on or off, as well as if you want generate a Seed. A Seed is a unique variation of numbers and letters that define a certain map. Say you want to play on the Seed "A1". If you want to play that map another time all you have to do is put A1 in the Seed name.
   
   
    Now before we being, Ill tell of the mechanics. There are 4 things that you need to have a productive Galaxy. The game tells it as FIDS. This means Food, Industry, Dust, and Science. Food. Food makes population, Industry makes things get done faster, Dust increases your income per turn, higher Science means it will take less to research things.   
         
GAMEPLAY
    When you first start the game you will start with a lovely introduction of your faction. Next you might be hit by the Tutorial screen. This can help you understand a lot on what is happening. I found that the Tutorial didnt really help that much, it just tells what everything does. Its not really going to help you when you first start. Youll most likely get more of a hang of the game by your 3rd or 4th gameplay.
   
    You can see a ship next to your System. When you first start you get a Colony ship and a Scouting ship. A Colony ship can provide you a new Colony on a different System granted you have the Technology researched to colonize there (well talk about that later in). The Scouting ship can travel farther than a Colony ship and can scout out other Systems and players.
   
Now, lets talk about the HUD of the Galaxy screen. On the top left corner, youll see various buttons:
   
    The first one, probably grayed out, lets you return to the Galaxy screen if youre on a different button. If you hover over it, it shows all of the Players scores.    
   
    The second one, is your Empire. You can see how much Dust (the currency used in Endless Space) you get per turn, the taxes you are being payed, your Empire Factors; which are based on the planets and Systems, Strategic and Luxary resources, and how star Systems. If you find you have a lot of Systems to manage you can set an AI to automatically build stuff for you depending on what you prefer for that System to do. Youll see the drop-down menu under AI next to Hanger on the Star Systems menu.
   
    The third one, is your Technology. On the first turn, you get to pick a Technology to research and advance to. Lets look at the Tech Tree. Okay, thats a pretty huge Tech Tree. Ill break down the various paths that you can take:
The upper tree is towards Galactic Warfare. Researching these can give you many weapons and defense options to use in the Military screen (well get there too).
The left tree is towards Diplomacy and Trading. If you get this you can open options with the other players. You want an Alliance with a player? Well, lets just say you might be waiting a lot of turns to research that.

  

    The bottom tree is towards Exploration and Expansion. Most of these are key for getting a wealthy empire. You cant just colonize on lava planets or on asteroids, you have to research it first! These also help in keeping your colonies satisfied.
The right tree is towards Applied Sciences, which can help find more Strategic resources and help towards your ships stats, even adding more options in battle.
Well thats all of the Tech Tree. The Tech Tree is run on by Science. The more Science you have on colonies then the more faster things can be researched.
   
    Back to the HUD now. The next button is the Military button. Here you can see your active fleets of ships and where they are traveling to. On the right side you can three ships there now and also an Add option. This will allow you to customize how you want your future ships to be like. You want them to be attackers? Put more kenetics under the Weapons Module. Want to defend a planet? Put deflecters on a ship! Its really simple until you get to late game, where your enemy can use lasers and you cant defend that well until you shields. Dont forget to name your ship or you cant actually make it!
   
  

    The next button is the Diplomacy screen. When you first start it will only have yourself in it until you meet other players. When you meet other players you can go back and trade with them. Until you get the certain Diplomacy and Trade techs researched you can pretty much only Declare War and thats not what you really want to do at this point unless you want an early defeat.
   
    The button after the Diplomacy button is the Academy menu. You can hire Heroes which can command Systems or Fleets. You start with 3 Heroes and you gain more over the course of 50 turns, however you can only keep a maximum or 3. Heroes have an upkeep as well and it increases as they level up. Heroes can also get injured in battle and when they do you need to heal them for a cost of Dust.
   
    The last button is just the Options button. You can save or load a game, change options or exit the game or exit to desktop.
  
    On the bottom right of the screen is the End Turn button which ends your turn and lets the other players move. As you progress in turns and upgrades, notifications on what is completed appear above the End Turn button.

    Soon you will meet a Pirate Fleet or an Enemy Fleet. They will want to battle you. This is the cool thing about this game. You can select Auto for a dice roll based on the percentage shown on both Fleets or you can go to Manual.
    The manual option brings you to a cool game of pretty much Rocks, Paper, Scissors, although most of the time for me it isnt like that. You select 3 turns, Long Range, Short Range, and Melee. Click on one of the "?" on the left side and youll see cards. These can be used to for countering or just straight out attacking. However, depending on the number of ships compared to the other team, you might die or win on the first turn! I played a game the night before writing this and I countered all of the other players cards and still lost and didnt even damage one ship! The animations are pretty sick too. Definitely a plus compared to the Civilization series.

        Faction Creator
    You can edit your Faction name, change your Affinity, set your Author name, and edit a description. The next things youll be able to do is edit your traits. You can add as many traits as you want but they have to add up to 65. You can make it all positive if you want, but if you want more positive stuff than youd have to have negative traits as well to balance it all out. If you feel comfortable with playing and know some of these traits then you might want to try it. Want to be heavily on early game attacking? Head to Space Battle. Want a stable early planet advantage? Head to Anomaly or Economy!


    FAQ
Now, you might have some questions on some things. I did too when I first started.
    "I cant go to this certain System. Is this a bug??" If you notice, there might be a wavy line to and from that System. This means that there is a Wormhole there. In order to go into it, you need to research the tech. The tech is found under the Exploration and Expansion tech, titled Applied Casimir Effect.
    "My Fleet/Ship on my System isnt moving!" It should be in the Hanger still. Go to the Hanger on your System and and select the ship you want and select Create. You can then select the Fleet and move it somewhere.
    "My population isnt growing!" They are probably unhappy there and refuse to populate. I havent found a guaranteed way of fixing this but the less happy your colony is, the less productive they will be and the more turns it will take to get anything done. Try adding more Food production to the colony.
    "How do I increase my Fleet size??" Im pretty sure its the C3, C4, and C5 techs in the Diplomacy and Trading tree. 

    Okay, now that I spent a damn well time writing this, now Ill give the scores on what I thought this game deserves!

Graphics: Amazing graphics, amazing cutscene at the beginning of the game and amazing Battle animations and animations in general. 10/10
Sounds: The music is pretty alright. The sound is good too. Not too high. 6/10
Gameplay: As the title says, Endless Space, meaning its pretty well Endless. With customizable Factions and a Seed generator, youre going to be playing this game for a while. Most 4-Player matches can last at least 6 hours and you can spend most of your day playing this.
However, there is one thing and Im not sure if its my computer or not, but as the turns accumulate my game starts lagging like crazy. I try not to base my score on my computer based on lag but that was just a problem I had. 9/10

Overall: 9/10
As stated as above, youll be playing this game for a long time. If you want a game like Civilzation but in space, buy this. It is only $30 on Steam too!



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