Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords is a game of galactic conquest. I didn’t play the original Galactic Civilizations, which was released in 2003, but the two games look to be similar. That is, your goal is to start out with a race on a single planet, and then through research, military conquests, and cultural dominance, take over the galaxy. It’s no coincidence that the word “civilization” appears in the title, because the Galactic Civilizations games owe a lot to Civilization. You can even build space Wonders.|
So what’s new in Galactic Civilizations II? Fortunately for me, the official Galactic Civilizations II web site lists most of the changes. Planets will be more unique, you’ll have more control over how you build your starships, and the graphics engine will move from 2D to 3D (although the galaxy itself will remain in 2D). That is, the changes in the game will be minor, and gameplay will remain about the same. That might sound bad, but I think it’s intentional. I think Stardock Corporation, the game’s developer (and publisher), liked the mechanics of Galactic Civilizations, and they wanted their new game to appeal to fans of the original game.
Start off at home, and then explore the galaxy.
Stardock allowed us to try out a beta version of Galactic Civilizations II, and it seems like the game will be fun to play. The game will be turn-based, with each turn representing a week in game time. During each turn you might build up one of your planets (by adding a farm or a research lab or one of a dozen other buildings), you might research new technologies (including new weapons and cultural advancements), and you might move around your fleet of starships (including military vessels, freighters, and scouts).
Early in the game it’s important to explore your surroundings to learn where the “anomalies” are (anomalies give your race small but permanent bonuses) and to find the best planets for colonization. But after that the game is all about angling your race for galactic domination. You won’t have to take over your competitors (nine other races) by force; you can simply dominate them with your culture, or you can research the “ultimate technology” and transcend mortality.
Deal with other races, and build your own starships.
The beta version we played was not complete. It only included a skirmish mode where you’re allowed to pick the race you want to play and the size of the galaxy you want to play in. The final product will also include some sort of a campaign, where you’ll play as the Terrans (humans) and square off against the evil Drengin Empire. Then eventually the dread lords from the game’s title will make an appearance, and they’ll stir up all sorts of trouble. Look for Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords to hit store shelves at the end of February 2006.
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