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Imperium Galactica II: Alliances

Score: 90%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: GT Interactive
Developer: Digital Reality
Media: CD/3
Players: 1 - 8
Genre: Real-Time Strategy/ Online

Graphics & Sound:

The graphics in Imperium Galactica II are nice, befitting the genre. The starmap has beautiful stars with halos around them depicting the range of your radar, with spinning ships portraying your various fleets. When you zoom in to look at a colony, youíll see each building in full 3D, where you can zoom and rotate to your heartís desire. When space combat is engaged in, a similar view is shown. The interface is similar throughout all the myriad maps and screens that IG2 has to offer, which makes it easy to understand. And the random wiggling of the backgrounds in the various menus lends for a really cool, Netrunner-esque feel to it all. The full motion video in IG2 is simply stunning, making full use of your computerís visual settings. Indeed, a patch off of the official website lets you jack the game resolution up high, allowing for even prettier vistas.

The sounds in the game are good, with solid booms and pops and squeaks and whatnot. And the menus with their slowly turning options are both pretty and functional.


Gameplay:

But everyone knows that strategy games are all about the gameplay, not the presentation, and gameplay is where Imperium Galactica II: Alliances really shines. If youíre a fan of the Masters of Orion series (everyone? right? right?), youíre going to feel right at home in IG2. But in reality, IG2 is so much more. It is basically SimSpace -- from the colony management to the landside battles to the space battles, IG2 is an epic whole.

The game offers multiple modes of play. You can do a Campaign, where you choose one of three races -- the Shinari, who specialize in subterfuge, the Kraíhen, who are basically the universal ass-kickers, and the Solarians (a.k.a. humans), who are the mid-range players. Each race has its own CD (!), making IG2 one of the largest strategy games in terms of discs that Iíve seen. And each time you play a Campaign game, the game is different. There are little mini-quests that the game presents to you, and they change each time you play, giving the game a good replay ability factor.

There are also Scenarios, which pit you against some mission, be it destroy the universe or save some friends. In this, you even get to play some races that you canít in Campaign mode, although itís generally in the higher difficulty level scenarios. There are already a few additional scenarios available for download at the gameís official website as well.

The game itself is really an amalgam of many different games. There is the overlord, Masters of Orion-style starmap, where your order fleets around to explore the universe. There is the colony management screen, where you build structures to keep everything going and to give room for your citizens to live, a la SimCity. And when battle breaks out, either on the surface of a planet or in space, you find yourself in the middle of a quite delicious battle sim. None of these mini-games are dull or lifeless, and some of them (my personal favorite is land-based combat, perhaps because of some internal longing for the cool stylings of Dune II and the gameís reflections of that) are almost passable as separate games in and of themselves. Rolled all together, a grand experience is to be had. With the configurability of everything in the game, you are not going to be running out of replay ability for a long, long time.

And to make things even better, a highly informative tutorial, broken up into multiple parts, is available inside of the game, and the instruction book is nice, thick, and a great reference guide.


Difficulty:

The Campaigns are difficult but doable; youíll find yourself doing well if you keep your production up and waste absolutely no time doing what needs to be done. The gameís length and variety of races will make it intriguing no matter who you play, and expect a warm-up game or two of getting your butt kicked before you get into the swing of a new race (except, perhaps, for the Kraíhen, where you just beat the tar out of everything that moves). The scenarios range from slightly above trivial to kicking your butt in no time flat, which makes for a nice range of difficulties. Youíre free to pick just how masochistic you want to be -- and I like that.

Game Mechanics:

The interface is very similar throughout the entire game and the various screens (of which there are many), which is very nice. Once you get used to how to manipulate the starmap, the colony view is a cinch. This is a Very Good Thing. The menus are clear and understandable, the documentation well-done. Youíre going to do most of your controlling (well, all of it, practically) with the mouse, and itís very easy to do.

Imperium Galactica II is the perennial dark horse -- a game not enough people will ever know about, even fans of the genre. Every self-respecting fan of the Masters of Orion series, or real-time strategy sims in general, owes it to themselves to pick this game up. Itís hard to be disappointed with so much fine, enjoyable gameplay.


-Sunfall to-Ennien, GameVortex Communications
AKA Phil Bordelon

Minimum System Requirements:



P233, Win9x, D3D compatible 3D accelerator, DirectSound compatible sound card, 4X CD-ROM, 600 MB HD
 

Test System:



AMD K6-III 450 running Windows 98, 256MB RAM, Creative Sound Blaster Live! Sound Card, Creative TNT2 Ultra w/32MB RAM, 6x24 DVD-ROM

Windows Homeworld: Game of the Year Edition Windows I-War: Deluxe

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated