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Review by: Brian Clair
It has been a long time since I’ve played the original Master of Orion – one of the most addicting games ever made (Microprose seems to be good at that). Now, at long last, Master of Orion 2 has been released sporting all new graphics, sound, technology, races, a virtual plethora of gaming delight. There’s is a great deal of information to relay in this game so let’s get to it…
Master of Orion 2 places you back in the same universe as the original game but reveals a bit more of the history associated with the game. As it turns out, there was another god-like race known as the Antarans who fought for control over the galaxy with the Orions. In the end the Orions won and imprisoned the Antarans in a pocket dimension which the Orions constructed using unknown technologies. Now, millennia later, the Antarans have found a way to send ships into normal space again to lay waste to everything in their path. Your job is to track the Antarans to their home dimension and destroy them once and for all. Now, don’t think this will be easy – an Antaran Cruiser is powerful enough to destroy a Titan class warship with Class VII shields. Luckily, the game gives you some options on this…
Master of Orion 2 is just like the original game in many ways but it is MUCH different too. It’s almost like Microprose merged Civilization 2 with the original MOO to create a psychotic hybrid. Oh, and for those of us who just created 1000 tiny ships and laid waste to things – not any more. Microprose has taken the tactics that players used in the original MOO and turned them against us – making in very difficult if not impossible to use those tactics again. Let’s look at some details…
In the original MOO, a galaxy consisted of stars and each star had one planet. In MOO 2 each star can have many planets, plus asteroid belts, gas giants, and wormholes. So, while even a huge galaxy isn’t that big in the number of stars there are literally hundreds or thousands of planets (a new galaxy is randomly created every game). You begin in your home star system with 2 scout class ships and one colony ship. You can usually colonize several of the other planets in your home system but these are rarely ever Terran. Now, don’t waste your colony ship on one – you can build colony bases to colonize planets in the same system. Send out your scouts so you can begin to spread your race throughout the galaxy.
Now, each planet can produce a certain amount in credits (part of which is used to maintain buildings, the excess goes to your treasury), plus production, food, and scientific research. You can switch people from each area on each world and each 1 person represents 1 million of your people. Each colony can build whatever your researchers discover or invent and there are LOTS of them! I have played over 15 games of MOO 2 and I haven’t discovered all of the inventions yet. You are given 8 categories from which to research and each category has 3 items in it. You can only research 1 of the 3 – ever (unless your race is creative). Research ranges from force fields to biology and discoveries range from Ion Drives to Androids, to Anti-matter torpedoes.
Now, I can’t discuss everything in the game – there is just way too much. The manual is over 160 pages and is literally jam packed with info on the game. So, allow me to elaborate on the combat system since I mentioned it briefly before. In the original MOO, you designed a ship and could just build insane amounts of them. The game would just group them together so you could generate mass-firepower and obliterate anything in sight quite easily. Well, forget about it in MOO 2. Ships no longer get grouped together and it can take a long time to produce even one (no more 10/turn scouts, it’s 1 ship per turn max.). Now, this already greatly diminishes your old firepower but the game gives you LOTS more flexibility in designing ships and many more options and weapons (and each weapon can be equipped with options like armor piercing, continuous fire, point defense, etc). So, even if you build a fleet of scout ships and load them with a good weapon you won’t ever make a dent in a big ship with Class X shields. That ship’s shields will regenerate before you ever get them down (there are 4 separate shield facings on every ship now too). Now, a nifty new feature is that if you can get a ship’s shields down and disable their engines you can attempt to board and capture that ship. This can be a good way to add to your navy. As I stated above, there is no way I can cover the entire game here and to be honest, I really haven’t discussed anything up to this point – there is just that much in the game.
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