|Publisher: Monkey Byte Genre: Strategy & War|
|Min OS X: Any Version RAM: 120 MB Hard Disk: 5 MB|
Galactica A.D. is a turn-based strategy game that looks simple and is simple. Your job is to conquer the universe through the power of your fleets and nothing else. You start with one system that has three sliders that are inversely related. As you drag one up, another goes down. They affect the levels of production for your population, ships, and technology. As you move away from your first system, you'll have to use couriers, battleships, colony ships, and defensive satellites in order to finish your prime objective: kill the alien scum. Your couriers take technology from planet to planet in order to keep your empire fully up-to-date, your battleships go out and destroy your enemies, your colony ships spread your empire, and your satellites protect you from assault on the home front. This is a very simple system, although it can be quite challenging.
GameplayIn this game, you have only one way to defeat your enemies. You can't use diplomacy to team up against your enemies, you can't develop a planet-killing device and roast your enemies, and you can't form a galactic senate and be voted ruler of the universe. This would kill a game like Master of Orion, but it seems to work well under the Galactica system. From the start of each match, this game seems incredibly easy. Just expand as fast as possible and build enough battleships to defend your territories. That would rapidly become boring, so I was quite happy to see the game get more complicated. My first run through, I'd had the computer with a +3 bonus. Big mistake. As I expanded and built up my fleet and tech, the computer split its force into four fleets and harried every side of my position. I had to reallocate towards ships, split my fleet off into multiple sections, and regularly have ships patrolling for breakthroughs. Even with all that, I was hammered constantly and only barely defeated the computer. Had there been two or more computers, I have no doubt that I would have lost.
The complexity of this game is quite surprising. While you may have a very simple mission, you end up using tactics often associated with the battlefield. For example, hit and run: you send in your force towards a weak side of their frontier, attack a couple planets, and run before their superior force. This can be used as a diversion, where you send in your larger force after the defending force is out of position. I found myself using those tactics and many more as I fought a war on multiple fronts and expanded my territory.
Galactica A.D. is definitely fun to play, and only gets better as you start playing other people. The gameplay is very simple and easy to learn, but you'll soon find yourself planning grand schemes as you slowly expand your sphere of influence and begin your campaign for the domination of the universe.
GraphicsAlthough the game is quite fun to play, the graphics are simplistic and not easy on the eyes. Each ship is a triangle, each fleet is a large triangle, each planet is either a circle or circle with orbit, and you can tell where something is going by a large line that sticks out in the direction and distance it is going. This becomes quite cluttered and is very annoying to sort through when you have large amounts of units in the same area. You end up having to zoom in for every battle involving multiple fleets and ships.
There's also no graphical interface for anything beyond simple lists and statistics. When you click on a planet, you get planetary info and a button for seeing a list of fleets and ships. There isn't a "look up close" button, there aren't icons representing production levels, and the only detailed pictures you have are static drawings that pop up whenever you reach another fifth tech or when you build a new type of ship for the first time. Maybe I've been spoiled by great space games like Master of Orion and Homeworld, but I expect at least a small amount of extra graphical beauty in games of this sort.
SoundThere are two major problems with the sound. There are too few sounds, and they are annoying. Throughout the game there are about four sounds. The "ready" sound, the "fight" sound, the "win" sound, and the "loss" sound. You will hear them thousands of times. It wouldn't be so bad if they were easy on the ears, but the explosion for a fight followed by the win or loss sound is quite grating after the hundredth time. The only reason sound didn't get a lower score was that the game works perfectly well with the sounds turned off.
ValueIt all comes down to this question: "Would you pay money for this?" The answer is a resounding "yes." Galactica is a very addictive and very enjoyable game. Sure, you have to turn off the sound and throw away your desire for cool graphics, but the game remains highly entertaining and well worth the $30 required to play it. A fine example of a solid strategy game, Galactica should be a member of any complete space strategy collection.
Pros• Gradual learning curve
• Complex and enjoyable gameplay
• Sound can be disabled
Cons• No demonstrative graphics
• Sound is better when turned off
• Too few options for a campaign