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Space Empires V is a 4x strategy game in the same style as game such as Masters of Orion or even Civilization. You begin with a single planet and minimal technology. You then begin to build ships, discover new technology, improve your home world, found new colonies and eventually meet other alien races and either create alliance with the or fight great battles. All of this leads to a game that has a lot of strategy, but isn’t as quick or exciting as many other games, but one that will keep you entertained for many hours.
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Space Empires V is not going to be for everything the main part of the game is turn based and especially early on in the game is very slow and with some amount of micromanagement required, but for those who like deep strategy with a lot of choices there are very few games that are going to give you a more complete strategy. In addition as the game begins to advance and the galaxy begins to fill the game speeds up considerably and it is not uncommon for there to be a number of battles in a single turn.
In addition as you begin to understand the game you will begin to see the many ways to reduce the micromanagement. You can have the computer automatically design the ships based on specific requirements if you wish or set every facility in your empire to upgrade reasonably easily.
While the gameplay of this is only average for the average player, for those who like deep strategy games I could easily see this rising to a four or even a five once you know and understand the strategy of the game.
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One of the major aspects of the gameplay of Space Empires V is that of technology which you research as the game advances. Most of the technology you have will go into one of three areas. The first of these is ships components. These are weapons, tools or items that can be added to ships. This is important because rather than having a simple ship that you build you can design your own ships, including the bridge, life support, crew quarters, engines, weapons and even a space dock which allows you to use the ship to build other ships. Each of these, as well as ship size and type requires you to learn new technologies to build. This means that you can either focus, building up the quality of a specific aspect of your ship, such as engines, shields, weapons, fighters or more or try to keep even.
The other major role of technology is in you colonies. When you begin you will be able to colonize one of the three types of planets which are gas, ice and rock. Each planet will also have various qualities such as the size of the planet, comfort and minerals. These control the amount and affects of the facilities on the colonies, which in turn can let you mine food, ore or radioactive elements, research, build ships, do intelligence and more.
The final type of technology is the theoretical sciences. These either allow access to other technologies, such as astrophysics allowing you to learn stellar manipulation or give you empire wide bonuses, such as each level of math giving you a 1% bonus on all research. These are generally of minor value early in the game, but once you have twenty or more worlds those technologies begin to gain value.
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There are two types of combat in Space Empires V, though they are largely similar. The first is space combat. This is a two dimensional combat which begins when two fleets who don’t have an agreement enter the same space. The two fleets are then control in real time combat with every aspect of their ship involved in the battle. Fighters and satellites can be launched, sensors allow you to see the enemy and more. This combat while not always fast feels intense because you have a lot of control over it and you never really know what strategy your enemy is using.
The other type of combat is ground combat. If you attack a planet and have ground troops you can attempt to capture the planet. This uses a different type of unit but beyond that the combat is not substantially different. Each side uses troops rather than ships but there is not a lot of other major changes.
Both of these are fun largely because of the great variety of choices in weapons and tools on your ships with fighters, lasers, missiles and even black holes being brought into the fray.
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Sound and Graphics
While there is a lot of variety in the graphics of Space Empires V there is nothing in this game that is graphically impressive. Almost everything is shown either in text with small images or at a long distance. So that you get stars, ships and planets which are small. This doesn’t mean that they look bad, simply that they have less detail and even in combat that distance remains most of the time.
The variety is where the graphics work well. Each races has a different style of ship as well as a number of different ships and each of those ships can be equipped with a wide variety of weapons which look different when used and with some imagination the size begins to become its own player in this game.
The sound of this game is generally good, but forgettable. It has a good variety of sound effects, but none of them are really enough for it really help in the game. This is similar to nearly every turn based strategy.
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The interface of Space Empires V is not as intuitive as I would like. This is not because of bad design so much as because of the great many choices available. Along the top are a number of different menus that let you communicate with aliens, control your science, check on resources, control intelligence, and a number of others. In addition there are a large number of ship based commands available both by right clicking or at the bottom of the screen. Once you learn these it goes quickly, but if you don’t play the tutorial you will find yourself trying to read tiny pop up descriptions as you go through the menus trying to find out how to do something.
The combat interface is far easier. Similar in many ways to other real time strategy games you can select and move ships easily and they will fight automatically unless you wish to give them commands. For example fighters will be launched automatically, but you can, if you desire tell your ship not to launch them or control which type of fighter is sent out first. Still most of the time you’ll really only need to focus on controlling where the ships go and what they attack first.
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While this game does not excel in most of the traditional ways that video games are rated it succeeds well in what it is doing. Like games like Masters of Orion and Civilization this allows for the potential of far more hours of entertainment than the typical video game because of the deep strategy and randomness of each game. For those who love 4x space games and do not mind a lot of detail this is going to be a five star game, but for many this is going to be intimidating and frustrating to play limiting it from a five star game which could be recommended to anyone, so if you're looking for a new strategy game try this out, but if you prefer action this isn't the game for you.
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- Source, authors own experience
- images, space empires v screen captures