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Review by: Brian Clair
Spaceward Ho! IV is the latest version of this popular game of galactic conquest with a western theme. You begin on your home planet with a small amount of resources and 2 scout ships. From there the game’s objective is quite simple: expand. To do this, you need to keep track of your resources – of which there are 2 in the game: money and metal. Money is used to buy ships, improve technology, and to terraform new planets (these last two are indirect by adjusting level in your budget menu). Metal is used only for building ships and planetary defense satellites, however, there is only a limited amount of metal in the entire game so you must learn to use it wisely.
The game allows you to customize and manage many aspects of your galactic empire. You can build custom ships, adjust the various spending in your budget (for both technology improvements like: ship range, speed, weapons & shields and for planetary spending on terraforming or mining), colonize new worlds (each of which has it’s own unique gravity, temperature, metal content, etc), and of course attack other empires. In the last’s regard, the game allows you to make allies with whom you can coordinate attack, transfer resources, etc. While this works well in a single player game, the real advantage of this system comes when you play with other human players via a network.
Spaceward Ho! IV also contains several levels of difficulty and gameplay, which allows you to customize not only your level of play but the universe you play in. You can arrange your galaxy to be densely populated with planets or sparsely populated – which makes range technology much more important. You can also choose the shape of your galaxy from a wide choice of options including: spiral, cluster, and random. This, combined with many other elements of the game (which are far to numerous to detail here), help make Spaceward Ho! IV an ever changing adventure.
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