Master of Orion 2 Review by Al Giovetti
By Al Giovetti, 03/13/97
Master of Orion II (2): Battle at Antares
Company Line"Master of Orion II takes the exciting theme of space exploration, colonization and combat from Master of Orion and introduces many new challenges and opportunities that people wanted to see in the sequel," said Steve Barcia, designer at SimTex Software.
"In Master of Orion II, the depth of gameplay is in the choices we give the players," said Ken Burd, designer and programmer at SimTex Software. "Players can ask themselves: 'Should I research advances in weapons or production technology? Should I immediately attack the first opponent I see or is it better to trade with the opponent?' Furthermore, the different races add replayablity. Each race requires a different style of play to succeed, and when we added the ability to custom design a race, the possibilities for game strategies became nearly endless."
For a more challenging and competitive experience, Master of Orion II is a stand-alone game that includes multiplayer features such as local area network, modem and hot-seat play. Master of Orion II players will be able to research more technology, view new art in SVGA graphics, choose from more alien races (Master of Orion II will have 13 alien races whereas Master of Orion had 10.), customize their own race, and apply a more detailed tactical ship combat and colony development.
The goal of the game is to rule the galaxy. Players accomplish this through the development of technology, research, diplomacy and combat.
In Master of Orion II, population growth has outstripped planetary resources and the need for galactic expansion has become a necessity. Acting as mighty emperors, users start with one colony and control how resources are allocated, where fleets are deployed, which galactic neighbors to wage war on and which to befriend. Then, players lead their people into other star systems, quickly securing the space and resources that will guarantee their supremacy. Players encounter various obstacles; including, a race of fanatic xenophobes (the Antarans) from another dimension that wants to annihilate all intelligent life in the galaxy.
You get to select the galactic map size that you will be playing with from large, medium or small, the age of the universe from pre warp drive, to after warp drive to technologically advanced, difficulty setting, number of alien races, and your alien race. You can also create alien races from scratch using an entire page of statistical determinations.
Like many games before, MOO2 has a SimCity-like interface that allows you to build structures on the planet. Unlike SimCity and more like other games of this type, the game involves resource management of food and raw materials. As the Civilization-like research tree is explored and new technologies are developed, new structures and ships become available to your race and so that you can develop a competitive advantage over your neighbors.
Alien races each have certain characteristics, such as ability to increase population quickly, little dependence on planet food, fast and more efficient research, and others. Paying attention to the research parameters makes the game easier to play and more fun since each of the thirteen races requires a different strategy to win against the others.
New for MOO2 are individual heros that can be hired for a little money to manage some of your better systems. Each hero has a set of modifiers that increases productivity, defense, or any of a large number of statistics.
Battles are conducted on a screen which has the top two thirds laid out in a two dimensional field with a grid of approximately nine by 18 suares. Ships can fire on other ships and the planet when in range and vice versa. Planetary defenses and ground batteries can win the day even after the orbiting ships are destroyed.
The goal in the game is to rule the galaxy by conquest or by killing all the other races in the galaxy, by killing the extra-dimensional Antarans, or by being elected the leader of the galaxy. The election to the top spot is anticlimactic if you like playing the game, because you win and the game stops when many players would just like to keep playing. But once that gong sounds the game just isn't the same anymore.
Diplomacy is a part of the game with you setting up alliances and declaring war on other races. You can spy, research, attack, build, explore, and many other things. This game has enough interesting options to keep you busy forever. This is a great game, with scientific, military, diplomatic, and economic components. Those who enjoy micromanagement will really enjoy MOO2.
The high quality graphics in 640 x 480 pixel resolution do a good job of illustrating the sections of the game. The most dramatic use of graphics and animation is in the communication screen when the other races send you a full screen video phone message complete with human speech.
AnimationIt is not just some of the animations in the game but the extensive calculations on figuring the odds and plotting the development of the computer artificial intelligences that slows down all machines save the fastest Pentiums. Some of the animation is very nice, especially that in the race communications screens.
UtilitiesThe patch for version 1.2 of the game is available at the Microsoft web site. The patch will eliminate the bugs found in the first release version 1.1.
Multi-player FeaturesMOO2 can be played as hot-seat on the same computer, over a direct serial link or null modem, over phone modem, IPX network and Internet play via Total Entertainment Nework (TEN). They really ought to have internet play for others without the TEN system.
Cheats, Hints, WalkthroughTake a look at our Master of Orion 2 Cheat Page by clicing here.
ReferencesMicrosoft's Master of Orion II (2)'s Web Site
Microprose Master of Orion II (2)'s Press Release
Jeff James, Computer & Net Player, volume 3, number 10, March, 1997, pg. 77, 80%.
Peter Olafson, PC Games, volume 4, number 3, March, 1997, pg. 58, 92%.
Editors, Next Generation, issue 28, volume 3, number 4, April, 1997, pg. 128, 80%.
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