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Galactic Civilizations: Dark Avatar: When the World Just Isn't Enough

Company: Stardock

Tears for Fears once stated that, "Everyone wants to rule the world". While that may be the case, some aspire for bigger things, like conquering universes. This is a goal few have managed to achieve. Possibly the most famous of these big dreamers was Emperor Palpatine, but there have been several to follow in his footsteps – at least in the digital world.

Last year’s Galactic Civilization II: The Dread Lords gave gamers everywhere the opportunity to capture control of the universe. Although the game wasn’t exactly something anyone could pick up and play, it managed to gain a significant following because of its depth. Galactic Civilization II: Dark Avatar, the expansion to Dread Lords, offers another campaign that takes players beyond the original campaign.

The expansion’s new campaign continues the original’s story. After the defeat of the Dread Lords, the Drengin turn on their coalition allies and beat them into submission. Just as they are about to gain control of the universe, a civil war breaks out between the empire and the Korath, a Drengin clan. The Korath decide that enslaving the other races isn’t the best of ideas, instead deciding that their destruction is the better course of action. The empire disagrees, causing them to take up arms.

Also new to the game is the Krynn Consulate, a group of religious fanatics. Both of the new races come with new abilities that help to make them unique when compared to the original races. The Korath share a number of similarities with the Drengin, but receive combat bonuses due to their militaristic nature. The Krynn, on the other hand, stick more to the shadows and rely on diplomacy.

Each race now has a special ability that fit its style. For example, the Korath have an Annihilation ability that lets them wipe a planet clean of all life. These abilities add yet more strategy to the game, forcing you to vary how you deal with each race.

Mega Events are another element that will require strategy changes. These elements, like revolutions, affect the entire galaxy and can really throw everything out of whack.

Dread Lords was great when it came to customization, and Dark Avatar doesn’t disappoint either. Among the new customization options is the ability to set how the opposing A.I. will play against you. You can adjust nearly every aspect of the A.I. including how long it has to make decisions.

Another useful addition are new espionage units that you can send to infiltrate the galaxy. You can also keep a few agents on your own planets to help stem any espionage tactics your opponent might try. Once you have an agent in place, you can learn about your opponent’s condition, including the number of ships they control, government actions and how its people view the government. As these units grow, they can relay better information.

At the start of a game, some planets cannot be immediately colonized. Instead, you’ll have to spend money on gaining technology that will allow you to survive on the planet. This helps to slow down the colony grab and instead gives you a small number of super planets. Fewer planets mean that you’ll have fewer resources early on. However, Dark Avatar includes asteroid fields that can be mined, granting bonuses to nearby planets.

Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar is shaping up to be a stellar expansion for an already great game. New races, new options and hopefully a worthwhile campaign are all waiting for would-be intergalactic rulers.

-Starscream, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ricky Tucker

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