Endless Space is a 4X “turn based” strategy game similar to Master of Orion 1 & 2, as well as Galactic Civilizations 1 & 2, and other space 4X games. Like most space 4X games, it’s great but it has its own set of problems.
Gameplay, Interface, and Graphics:
The game has a very board game feel to it. I say this because the interaction you get with the combat is very limited when compared to Master of Orion 1 and 2. You can either set some orders based on research strategies or hit auto resolve. If you hit “manual” you will see a space battle in 3D which you can modify by “playing cards” which are different sorts of strategies, otherwise you’re looking at a resolution screen with almost no interaction. In this sense the game is disappointing. The combat is also annoying in the sense it is annoying while doing simultaneous turns like in Civilization 4 and Age of Wonder 2: Shadow Magic in that if you “outclick” your opponent by resolving the battle before they are ready not to get ambushed or any other similar bad trick, you can cheap the game or an opponent in combat. This kind of defeats the purpose of playing a TURN-BASED STRATEGY GAME. Like, if I wanted to play Starcraft or another reflex RTS I’ll go do that. Don’t make a game that gives a person a heart attack when they hit next turn rather than enjoy drinking their tea or coffee.
Other than the combat issue, the rest of the game’s interface is great. The graphics are fine for a strategy game and the interface is pretty streamlined when it comes to managing your planets. The big map shows you what’s being built in that star system and you can see if the que is empty so you can assign another project for that system to work on. Much like Master of Orion 2, you can build the equivalent of “Trade Goods” in which 33% of your production will be converted either into money or research.
Diplomacy & The Lack of Espionage:
Diplomacy in Endless Space is very limited. It’s very similar in complexity to the Civilization games, which other games have surpassed. You can be in a state of peace (with and without trade benefits), alliance, cold war, and open warfare. Not to nitpick but I expect every turn based strategy game to have the level of depth of diplomacy that the Europa Universalis and Hearts of Iron games offer.
Unfortunately, there is no espionage in this game which is a shame because it’s such a great theme for space opera kind of games and TV shows. Maybe an expansion can fix this big issue. (Hopefully, a free update would!)
The game is rather easy on Normal. The computer is pretty retarded unless you let them out-colonize you, which in that case, it’s been nice knowing you.
The Game Universe:
This game comes with a set of premade races which are significantly different from each other. You have the obvious research race, diplomacy race, various war races, super production race, and so on. On top of that, you can make your own custom race which in most situations is superior to the stock races.
The music is perfectly picked for a space thinking game. Some of the songs are really pleasant, although I wish they would have also added more songs that sound like the Dawn of War and Company of Heroes soundtracks (for that military march stuff) for when you go to war.
After taking your turn, at the beginning of the next turn the game will show you what stuff completed for you to decide what to do next. One bug that I wish they would fix is that the game won’t warn you if you are doing nothing in a planet. Like, it doesn’t give you a popup like it does when you would go bankrupt saying that the planet is doing nothing that turn. I wish they would make the planet convert it’s production to money or research by default if doing nothing (like MOO2 does by default).
These days I play Endless Space a lot more than I do the classic Master of Orion 1 and 2. All three games have their strengths and weaknesses. Although the complexity of MOO1 is great it is still only single player. MOO2 is great but it’s essentially Civilization 2 in space with spaceship designs and a cool spaceship combat engine but since Microprose is dead there are no further updates for this gem, let alone MOO1. What’s great about Endless Space is that it’s available everywhere to buy, multiplayer is easy to setup, and the game still gets updates and bug fixes.