It’s been 20 years since the first Antaren attack left colonies decimated all over the most defended of star lanes. While this anniversary of Master of Orion : Battle at Antares brings up fond memories of playing what was largely acclaimed as one of the best 4X space-based titles of all time, some of you may not even have heard of it. For those who may have otherwise missed their chance, there’s still hope. From new developer NGD Studios comes the next installment to return us to the Orion universe: Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars.
In this latest title published by Wargaming Labs, we’re escorted back into the role of one of the galaxy’s great leaders. Choose from one of 10 different races from the classic Master of Orion games, or a custom one of your own design. Then, strike out to “eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate.” Utilize over 200 different technologies in various areas of research in order to design, customize, and upgrade your ships, planets, and star systems. Assign covert operatives to spy on your neighbors, steal technologies, destabilize their government, and much more.
Achieve victory by dominating your foes in a galactic campaign of conquest or by becoming Supreme Chancellor through cunning and diplomacy. Of course, you can also win through controlling the galactic economy, commanding construction of a device that will translate you to a higher plane of existence, or simply by having the highest score at the end of a predetermined number of turns. Aid yourself in these endeavors by locating the mythical Orion system and defeating the colossal Guardian ship, allowing you to obtain advanced technologies from the legendary Orions themselves. Whatever you do to win, the choice is yours.
WHAT TO EXPECT
While this game isn’t remarkably groundbreaking in any way, it is a great blend of past and present approaches to the 4X gaming genre. The stunning three-dimensional graphics are a little more advanced than most games in the 4X genre. Though reminiscent of a Civilization V clone set in the Orion Universe (which wouldn’t even be a bad thing), Conquer the Stars brings a little more to the table.
Forget about saving your game every few turns. With the new timeline feature, you can go back to any turn without the need to. You can now correct mistakes without the nagging pit in your stomach that you haven’t saved in several turns. Also, no more relying on an auto-save feature that replaces its save every five turns or so.
As with most games in the 4X genre, the replayability factor is high since every choice affects your game and there are many to be made. You can easily play for hundreds of hours without even playing through one play style with each race. I’ve already played through several times and keep coming back for more. With multiplayer support, you can have endless fun battling your friends for control of the galaxy.
As a former QA tester for a couple of major gaming studios, I’m always leery when I see in the comments section of Steam that a game contains lots of bugs. After several play-throughs, I can safely say I haven’t found any. Most of the so-called “bugs” people are reporting are due to people not utilizing the advanced options to lower requirements on low-quality PCs. This should rarely be an issue, though, since I’ve even played the game on my second edition Microsoft Surface with no issues more than just some occasional slowness.
WHERE TO BUY
Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars is a steal at $29.99 and can be found on Steam or gog.com. The game comes in Standard or Collector’s Edition. The Collector’s Edition provides the best value for diehard MOO fans, as it contains not only the militaristic, human-like Terran race, but also all original games in the series, retro models, and concept art. As of the time of this writing, the game can be found for $17.99 at gog.com, a price that won’t likely be beaten for a long time to come.