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Thursday, October 25, 2001
Master of Orion III Underground Impressions
10:22 AM | Eddie Park | Comment on this story

Gaming site UGO recently got a chance to sample Quicksilver's upcoming title Master of Orion III, and have posted a preview of it that reveals some intriguing details regarding this game. For those unfamiliar with the title, MOO3 is, at heart, a turn-based strategy game that takes place in space. However, as the preview notes, calling it such "fails to convey the scope and complexity involved."

For those that hate micromanagement, particularly when one's empire becomes too big to navigate with any amount of speed, MOO3 may have the right solution. Stressing the role of the player as the leader of an empire, there will be many AI-controlled leaders under the player's direct command that can be allowed to take care of the little details. These leaders will be able to perform actions such as directing a fleet, governing a world, or even maintaning an entire system.

Combat, unlike the rest of the game, takes place in real-time. Though this is a departure from the previous titles, Quicksilver has taken care to make sure things aren't quite as frantic as a typical RTS title:

You have your core fighting force accompanied by escort and picket ships, and they all understand how to react as a task force. It's these task forces that perform different actions, like colonization, star lane protection, etc. The incorporation of star lanes, which basically speed up travel between worlds, is another new addition. Sure, a player can move from planet to planet without a star lane present, but it will take them longer. What star lanes help introduce is the concept of choke points, a strategically important factor ignored by most space-faring strategy games. Now, a player can effectively hold a system with a defensive force without worrying that the enemy will just bypass the group. Of course, the enemy can circumvent such a blockade; it will just take them three times as long, which means that if the fleet is detected, the defending player has time to prepare an adequate defense.
Further complicating the issue is that each race has its own "gaia requirement," or perfect ideal of how a world should be. Depending on how citizens see an empire the player is currently at war with, they may revolt. War is also hideously expensive, and has the capacity to bankrupt even the most financially successful empire.

More familiar to MOO veterans should be the political climate, which includes diplomacy, treachery, and espionage. The Trading model has been greatly improved, and players now have the ability to make complex trades, offering several smaller items for one large item. The Orion Senate, where emperors get together and decide policies that are literally universal, also plays a large role in the game. For those that like to be more underhanded, spies and assassins can be used to remove individual threats.

In addition to the preview, there are also a couple of interesting-looking pictures of various races featured in the preview. Those interested should check out UGO's latest preview. MOO3 is currently slated for a release sometime during the first quarter of 2002.

UGO - Master of Orion III Preview
Master of Orion III Official Site
Quicksilver Software
Master of Orion III
Buy Master of Orion III

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