January 01, 2005

Lord Brazen's Game Review

Master of Orion 2 - Battle at Antares book cover
Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares is an epic turn-based fantasy strategy game which was first released way back in 1997. For those that enjoy games that are focused on tactics, strategy, and diplomacy, Master of Orion II is a good place to start.

Whether in the thick of battle or viewing a cut scene, the visuals were pretty impressive for its day. The 640x480 screen resolution is a little limited by today`s standards, but the implementation works well and it gives plenty of life to this classic series.

The basic premises of the game are to create an empire, develop technology, and eventually build an invasion fleet against rivals who are seeking to do the same.

Master of Orion II offers game play against up to 7 opponents. The game has excellent multiplayer support with hot seat, modem, serial link, and LAN games. You can choose any combination of human or AI opponents.

There are thirteen standard races to choose from but most veteran players design a custom race. There is a large array of race customization options available allowing players to customize their race to match their playing style.

AI opponents in the game are fairly challenging for new players and can be great for training. Ultimately however, you will find that confronting and defeating human opponents is probably the most challenging aspect of the game.

To begin, you start by colonizing several planets and begin slowly expanding your empire. Your livelihood depends on exploring the space surrounding your home system in order to locate inhabitable planets for you to colonize.

Your efforts should be focused on population growth as population will help develop technology and your fleets. A good rule of thumb is to develop 80 or more population in the first 100 turns.
Although it sounds relatively simple, many new players have difficulty understanding the importance of population.

Technology is researched like many other strategy games, with the player choosing how many colonists each turn to put into discovering the next breakthrough. Each technology grants the player new buildings, better combat technology, or diplomatic strategies.

Maintaining and upgrading your fleet with the latest technology may be the only thing that keeps you alive in the cold depths of space. Properly designed ships are critical to survival late in the game as conflict is most likely.

The one place where the game stumbles is in its ship design screen. Designing is slow and tedious. I would love to be able to load and save ship designs. It would make game play a little faster as manually designing them every game is time consuming and players often use the same designs every game.

The turn based combat is something I find difficult. The combat sequence can be extremely long as players often take their time deciding what action to take next. Strategy and Tactics are very important here.

Sometimes it is a simple matter of confronting an enemy from a greater distance. Sometimes, you will need to charge and strike a close distance. It is a game of keeping cool under the pressure and not doing anything that will give your opponent the upper hand. Small mistakes are often deadly.

The longer you play this game, the more it draws you in with its combination of subtle nuances and tough decision-making. Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares is possibly the best video game ever made. While there are a few small flaws, it has everything I enjoy in a video game which is why I still play it frequently over the internet today.

Game play: A+.

Presentation: A (The graphics and sound are a little dated).

Overall: A+ (Did I mention that I really like this game).

Copyright 2005-2015 Shawn Meunier