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Galactic Civilizations 2: Dread Lords
Posted: 12/3/06 by Chris Stavros | Comments (14)

You have some decisions to make at home too as not all planets are created equally. They are rated from 0 to 16 (this can go higher with technology) the number being the available squares for development. You must decide what you want to build first, you have a capital and a starport but little else. Should you build a factory for better production? A market for more money? A research center? Since the number of squares are limited you must decide what you want.

Technological discovery will open up additional buildings and special wonders for you to construct. When you first colonize a new world there is nothing there so must build everything including a starport. Starports can in turn construct starships which is something you will have to pay attention too. Each ship in your fleet costs a certain amount of money in upkeep costs so make sure to pay attention to your budget.

The final decision is what technology to research first. There are many techs and the game manual makes it clear you won't get to finish them all. As in many such games progression of techs in linear is style, you follow a track along a number of paths and this leads to better weapons, defenses, starships, planetary improvements and so on. You can even win a tech victory but this is very time consuming and there are easier ways to finish a game.

The nicest feature in this game is the starship design interface. As you learn new techs, default ship types appear for construction. You can also augment this with custom designs. Every time you learn a new tech you can translate this into a new ship design. You pick the hull size, shape, and then simply choose for a list of engines, weapons and defenses you have discovered to make the ship. Each ship can only hold so much, so you won't be able to fit everything you want on board. But you can study miniaturization and with it fit more on small hulls. You can even add cosmetic shapes to make your ships truly unique.

The diplomacy interface in the game is quite nice. As you meet other races, you can talk to them, trade techs, present gifts to them and make peace and war. You can also see their opinion of you, the number planets they control as well as the starships they have in service. The race you are looking at displays an animated leader that says appropriate comments for the situation, although many are light hearted and frivolous. One of the easiest victory conditions is alliance with all the major races so diplomacy is important.

Combat is handled through a mathematical formula, you simple engage and the game decides who wins. But you can watch the ship battles in several modes such as overhead, 3 D, chase a several others so its like a little cut scene movie. Invasions are handled with two animated armies meeting and shooting at each other with the troop numbers drop for one side or the other. Techs affect combat defense and offense and large planets are harder to take than small ones.

Each race was its own set of ship 'skins' and colors to each starfleet looks differently. The planets are well represented with high quality designs that actually look like real planets in space. The entire look of the game is quite slick and modern and gives excellent atmosphere for the game players. The music is appropriate to the setting and there are several different victory conditions making no two games of GC2 exactly alike.

The game has a complete tutorial and learning campaign but is not difficult to learn once you understand the basic concepts. With numerous races to plat and many different ships to design and play with this really is a Sci Fi fan's dream of space empire builder. There is sure to be many mods based on popular shows and movies for it, it would lend itself well to this. The game is fun and relatively fast moving, so its worth going out and getting.

Thanks to Darkstar for the screenshots!

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