Endless Space is Amplitude Studios take on the ever popular 4X space strategy genre that seen countless game developers try to conquer but fail. After all, every game that comes out in this genre has to face the benchmark of being compared to the grand daddy of all 4x space strategy games, Master of Orion and not many come out with flying colours.
Right from the start, the visual artwork of the game sets it apart from all its contemporaries and if there is one word to describe it, its gorgeous. From the planets to the races and even the style of its ships, the art people at Amplitude Studios have definitely done a great job. Dive deeper into the game and you will find that the beautiful artwork is but the tip of the iceberg.
The back story of the game is rather interesting and tries to break away from the conventional ones where the human race has just discovered space flight and meets other races who look like copies from the various sci-fi movies over the years. Instead the storytellers at Amplitude Studios decided to go with one where a mysterious race called the endless once ruled the stars only to disappear and leave behind a legacy called the dust. While its not going to win any award, it is still a breath of fresh air and does well to make players want to find out more.
But its the gameplay of the Endless Space that is where you discover the gem that Amplitude Studios have created. From the 90 over traits that you can customise your own race with to how the how game gives you the right amount of control that will please both the micro and the macro camps is wher the game truly rises above the rest.
The problem that always plagues each and every 4X space strategy game that has been developed is finding the right kind of balance between the mirco and the macro and not many have come to find that perfect balance. Not to say that Endless Space has found the Holy Grail of balance but it is very close.
Taking the planet management for example, here each planet in the system is beautifully drawn with enough information to give you an overview of the planet at one glance like the population size and limit or if the planet has any special resources. Players can also dive into each planet specifically to assign either terraforming task, explore moons and set exploitation types. Buildings and ship construction are on a system level and is as easy as clicking on the icon represented. While this might look like lack of control at the start, trust me when I say its more than enough especially in longer games on bigger maps where u have many many many systems to control.
The same can be said for diplomacy as while options are limited to the usual forming of treaties and alliances, checking how the other races view you and paying for peace, it is more then enough for a game like this. After all, most of the time you will be too busy trying to explore and expand your empire than to plan for a highly complex political coup.
Ship creation and battles can be rather fun especially with the nice graphics although some might complain they are too simple. While I am not going to disagree with that, I would like to add that sometimes after exhausting all options to make peace with another race, sending in my huge battleships and just sitting back to watch them blow my enemies to dust is rather satisfying.
I could go on more about how I like the idea of being able to manually queue and select my research route or how I can customise each game to my liking but I think I will end up sounding like a broken recorder.
Overall Endless Space is a game that I will have no difficulty recommending to other 4X strategy game fans still looking for that one game to satisfy their galactic empire urge since the days of Master of Orion. While it is not entirely perfect, the support coming from Amplitude Studios is very encouraging and the idea of mods being supported (some please make a Star Wars mod thanks!) is the icing on an already very delicious cake.
Ratings: 4 out of 5 Stars.
By Kenneth Wong
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