Space Empires V is the culmination of 4X turn-based space strategy games. 4X, of course, refers to eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate, in this case, a space empire game. Pretty obvious from the title, guys. Essentially, it’s in the style of the Civilization series.
Though I usually prefer Real-Time Strategy, I really liked this game as well. Beginning with a single homeworld, the player can expand throughout their star system, and then into the surrounding ones, all the while researching new technology and weapons that allow them to control their emergent Space Empire. The customization is probably the greatest feature but also the thing that most sharply brings up the learning curve.
Its easy to build ships from your build queues, but in order to do so, you have to design them first. The design manager allows the player to select a hull chassis, and then from there, add on whatever components are necessary to make the ship run, like crew quarters or life support, and then other components to serve the ships purpose”perhaps a satellite bay, or armor and weapon systems. There is an autocomplete feature, which allows you to select a ship, and then select its purpose and the game will automatically complete the ship with whatever components you have available, but I’ve found that you can be more successful designing them yourself.
The component idea is a really outstanding feature of this game. There are so many components and different kinds of weapons, armor, shields, and types of research that it may be a little dizzying at first. Once in the swing of it, though, it allows for very varied gameplay.
Aside from the component system, another one of the remarkable features of the game is the real-time combat. Once units enter combat, you can choose to go to tactical, much in the style of Lords of the Realm II, and use your ships in real time to combat enemies. The ships animations are very good even though they fly on a 2D plane.
From a graphical standpoint, the game doesn’t rate so high. The game actually is in full 3D, though all the gameplay takes place on a 2D field (Probably for the betterwith everything else you’ll be thinking of, its much easier to simplify game controls and spend time on your strategy). The illustrations and 3D models of most of the ships are a little sub-par. The icons for each component look pretty good, but while the models for the ships look good the textures kind of bring it down.
There are a lot of races in the game, and depending on what gametype you’d choose to play you can even customize your own, choosing specific race features, bonuses, and weaknesses to customize your people. Another fun thing you can do in the game is invade and conquer your opponents planets, which allows you to colonize, for instance, a gas-giant when you have only the technology to colonize Rock planets. This will usually result in a planet populated with a different race, so you can always choose to ship in some of your own kind, or let them live on their own.
There is also an extensive online community which discusses and mods this game, and available is a lot of user-created content. Coupled with the component system, the full 3D graphics, and the advanced alliance system (ranging from trade agreements to full partnerships), and the technology, I give this game a plus. Its fun to get on here for a couple of hours, play through a game you’ve been running for a few hours from last night, then come back to it again in a week and play a few more hours. Its rather addicting.