Master of Orion 2
Designed as a 4X turn-based strategy game (explore, expand, exploit and exterminate), Master of Orion 2 is one of the genre's finest titles. Noted for its complex gameplay, Master of Orion 2 places its emphasis on the development of an alien civilization, through economic, technological and social development.
Players can choose between various predetermined races or design their very own race with a set of strengths and weaknesses. Players could even choose to design their own warships based on the technology they researched. All of these choices allowed for an extremely complicated game. Although complex, it always remained accessible through its well designed systems.
Sins of a Solar Empire is a real time strategy game that incorporates some aspects of the 4X genre. Featuring a scale larger than any other strategy game, Sins plays out in a 3D web of planets and other celestial objects where various space civilizations compete over dominance of a multitude of solar systems spanning several galaxies, linked together by wormholes.
Most of the game's social and technological aspects are simplified in contrast to Master of Orion 2 as the game places a heavier emphasis on its real time combat. The game is best played with a group of friends over many hours, and sessions can be saved to be resumed at a later date.
Galactic Civilizations 2
Sequel to the first Galactic Civilizations, GC2 is its superior in every way. As with other 4X games, your job is to dominate the galaxy planet by planet, through force, diplomacy, culture or technology. GC2 is highly notable for its AI, which plays according to the game's rules and poses a challenge to the player without cheating. It may surprise you to know that even the best strategy games out there give the AI a competitive edge.
It may also surprise you to know that Galactic Civilizations 2's backstory is based on a series of short stories written by its creator, Brad Wardell. While it's not exactly the most original setting, it provides an interesting backdrop for a great strategy game.
Endless Space positions the player in role of an nascent space-faring civilization, and provides you with the opportunity to cultivate your space empire through a variety of ways and means that support your playstyle.
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