Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Summer of Indie: Endless Space

Reviews and blog posts about Endless Space have been making the rounds over the last couple weeks since its release. I know a good bandwagon when I see it, so shove over, I'm climbing on! The folks at Amplitude were nice enough to give me a review copy in exchange for, well, some publicity. I've never properly reviewed a game which I was given so it feels a little weird. In fact, I never planned to review it. I was going to do a few posts about my game- a play through if you will. That, however, didn't work out.

What's cooler than a warrior-bird race? Alfred Hitchcock would love this.

As I said there are some in-depth, very informative reviews already out there and one of the blogs I read regularly is playing it as well. IGN's review mirrored what I felt about the game, and wanted to say so much so that I could just tell you to read that and we'd be done, but I'm not that lazy.....yet. I'm not going to do a full-on review, however, but I will do my part and promote this well-done indie game. It is deserving of attention, but ultimately not the right game for me.

This game looks great. It is extremely well-presented with a great UI. The developers mentioned they worked with someone to create an 'ergonomic' UI and it shows. Everything is accessible and easy to follow. Accessible is a good word for Endless Space. I don't have a lot of experience with the 4X Space Genre (limited mainly to Space Empires IV which I loved) but one of the criticisms of the genre as a whole is that once your empire is large and sprawling things can get bogged down. Endless Space has obviously made a choice for streamlining this experience and as you progress, things don't get bogged down.

Which is where the game lost me. It's a bit of a contradiction that I never finished Space Empires IV because it became too much for me only to now criticize Endless Space for making it easier. It's not really a criticism, but a game-design that ultimately fails to work for me. I love micro-managing and the lack of it leaves me feeling like there's little to do. Combat has also been streamlined to basically be a cut-scene where you choose your tactic (play your card) and each type (attack, defence, engineering, etc) can be 'trumped' by your opponent. It's like a game of rock-paper-scissors but not one that can sway the battle if you are outnumbered. Whoever has the best fleet (represented by a score) seems to win.


I played roughly half-way through a single game (they last 300 turns) and had to leave off for a while only to find I didn't feel compelled to go back. As the reviewer from IGN also said, I didn't feel connected with my Galactic Civilization. In Sid Meir's Civ Series I always felt connected to my civilization. I knew my neighbors and liked the rivalries that developed. All of this is likely because I am/was an archaeologist and as a result know a lot about the development of human civilization. Space, in general, feels empty and soul-less to me so I have to rely heavily on the strategy/ship design/combat aspects of these type of games to pull me in. I just don't feel that pull with Endless Space.


If you like space games I would highly recommend you check out some of the more in-depth reviews and/or check out some You Tube videos on it. It isn't my cup of tea, but that doesn't mean you won't like it.




6 comments:

  1. If Endless Space is like Anno 2070 in the stars, I would give it a fair shake.

    Thing is, my funds are gonna be used elsewhere... I wonder if they'll push the price down later on.

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  2. That sure seems to mirror my experience. I played, I enjoyed, and then.... I just didn't play anymore. I'm so far underwhelmed for my $30.

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  3. @Victor- I played the previous Anno and no, it's nothing like it at all. There is not a lot of trade, and in fact, you don't actually harvest resources. You simply have access to them, and that allows you to build whatever is needed. For example, to build a bigger ship I needed to have a certain ore. Once I had a planet with it, that was it. I could build as many ships as I wanted. Fleets cost money (dust) only to maintain. This was part of my problem with the game: no resource management.

    @mrrx- It does seem very easy to walk away from :(

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    1. How'd you get a review copy by the way?

      Any ideas if Legends of Pegasus might be good? http://store.steampowered.com/app/205590/?snr=1_234_234__104

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    2. I've no idea about Legends, sorry. As for the review copy I saw their press release and it stated 'for review copies please contact...' and so I did :)

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  4. hey, nice review. Check out my review on my blog

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