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28. Re: On Sale Jul 20, 2012, 00:50 eunichron
Hey Dev, you had asked for my impressions on Sword of the Stars II, and I was able to put some time into it today. I can now give you my wholly inadequate first impressions after a couple hours of play.

First off the game is woefully intimidating and overwhelming. There is no tutorial to speak of, all that exists is a single tutorial screen that points out some UI function. However if you are familiar with the 4X style (and the typical RTS games that Paradox publishes) it shouldn't take you long to figure things out on your own. It has the advantage of being entirely turn based without time limits (unless you impose one yourself) so you can take your time in your first few turns to poke and prod around the seemingly limitless scope and depth of the game.

All interaction with the systems is done through fleets. Survey fleets, construction fleets, colonization fleets, and of course combat fleets. For example to construct a space station around a planet you must have a construction fleet available. As a result fleet management becomes a huge factor in your success as you must balance what fleets you build in relation to your goals (economic/political/military).

Economic and social/political policies are all controlled via sliders, some which are linked together. For instance under economics you can balance Government vs. Research, moving the slider towards Research increases your scientific development and research rates, while moving it toward Government increases your social and diplomatic policies. There are then subcategories of Government and Research like Security, Stimulus, and Savings, and even more subcategories of those like Operations, Intelligence, Colonization, Special Projects... moving the individual sliders for the subcategories directly affects the others (i.e. increasing Security funding reduces Stimulus, Savings, and Research funding). The ratios aren't 1:1 (or 1:1:1) so it is possible to play around with them to get different results.

Building and researching certain stations has an affect on your political and social policies as well. There is even a two-dimensional X,Y graph that shows you your political and social standing, and the bonuses received for certain construction. Focusing more on government structures gives you more Authoritarian bonuses, while focusing on expansion and exploration gives you more liberal bonuses.

The one thing I did not get to try is combat. In the couple hours I played I hadn't even run into another race, and I was playing on an average sized map with 4 other AI. It's not that the maps are particularly massive, it's more that expansion and exploration was rather slow. Though that could just be due to my noobness and still not fully understanding the mechanics of the game.

Customization... everything is customizable. Your race, your ships, your fleets (even down to their formations). If you enjoy that sort of thing you could probably spend hours just playing around with all the different possibilities.

Now the big part, as I said previously the game got mostly scathing reviews because of it's nearly unplayable status at launch. It was entirely playable, I had no crashes, and I didn't encounter any bugs or glitches.

There are some good LP videos up if you want to see it in motion. If you were interested in the Paradox bundle I'd say go for it without hesitation... for the $17.99 by itself I would say only do it only if you're a hardcore fan of the genre as the accessibility is so low it's in the basement. If you want something more accessible and easier to just pick up and play I would say jump on Endless Space if it's lucky enough to get a sale.
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