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Old 05-30-2006, 02:40 PM   #1
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Galactic Civilization II: Dread Lords

~by Jetherik

Often times you play a game and while you love it, you wished the developers would do A, B, and C. That was how it was with Stardock’s Galactic Civilization (Gal Civ). Gal Civ was a very good game – and seemed to come out of nowhere. It came at the right time to give hope to turn-based games after the fiasco of Master of Orion 3. Of course, gamers want choice. They want to play all the available races, they want to design their own ships, and they want a campaign game as well, not as an expansion pack. Stardock prides itself on listening to it’s fans and once again, they have done so.

Stardock’s Galactic Civilization II: Dread Lords is the next version of Galactic Civilization. It gives the fans all they want and more. You can play any of the nine races, or even create your own race. You can spend hours upon hours designing the look and weaponry of your ships based on the technology you have researched. If you don’t want to design your own, you can go online and look at fan created ships from the library. You want to play a campaign; they give you the continuation of the story. With Dread Lords, the fans got just about everything they wanted in the first Galactic Civilization.

Gal Civ II is a standard turn-based-4X (explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate) game in the vein of Civilization. Obvious, it takes place in space, instead of on a planet. Pick your race, political party, your abilities, number of opponents, size of the map, how rare or abundant various things such as habitable planets, stars, anomalies, etc., and then click play. This is about what you as the player want to do. You control every aspect of how the game is set up. Only in the campaign are you “forced” by the developer’s rules, except on difficulty level.

Again, to prove how quickly they listen to their fans and make changes. They had a random generator for the opponents (random intelligence, alignment) in the original that was not in Dread Lords. Minor, but the game was always interesting if you did not know what intelligence and alignment a race was. Fans wanted it back, and with patch 1.10 they put it back in (along with a huge list of changes from fan feedback).

Of course, Stardock didn’t stop there – it has given the game a complete makeover. The graphics are now 3D and look great when compared to the original. The original Gal Civ was a port from an OS/2 game. Dread Lords was completely redone. Designing starships can be very enjoyable and you can set up some really cool looking ships. I like the ship design, yet before the patch, I disliked ship design when I was upgrading my ships. You build a ship and it looks really cool. When you want to upgrade it, you go the upgrade section, and all the work you did is gone. Sometimes I just want to upgrade one weapon – and I would get frustrated because it would not let me do the one weapon upgrade without giving me a clean ship. Fans told them they didn’t like that, Stardock listened and fixed it.

Other things that I enjoy:
No copy protection, no CD needed to play the game. There are a few games I would love to play again, but I can’t find the bloody CD. I never have to worry about that with Dread Lords. The only thing you need is your serial number – and that is for the plethora of updates that Stardock always gives its customers based on their feedback.

Each planet has a select number of tiles that you can build stuff on. This is very important because it means you have to strategize what you are going to build. Plus, certain tiles will have bonus to themselves. The bonuses can improve your research by 100, 200, 400, or 800 percent. Of course, these are rare, but again, these can dictate your strategy of what you build.

Again, just like in the original Galactic, morality plays a part in the game. There are certain random events that occur, especially when colonizing a planet, where you will be given the situation and have three different ethical ways to respond (good, neutral, evil). How you respond determines how other societies will view you and what special technologies you can research. You can be considered good, neutral, or evil. Why should you care? The other races do and how they interact with you is determined by your actions. If you are a really evil race then the “good” races may decide that you are a threat to them. As the basic instruction manual from the first Gal Civ reads “Alien civilizations make foreign policy decisions based on the ethical values of other civilizations.” As well as your military might as well. If you have no military, even the civilizations that are good will have no problems conquering your planets to save your people from you or the evil empires.

They also have a beginner’s guild that is really is helpful. I read it when writing the article and it did give me a few good ideas that I had never thought about doing before. I am also assuming that many readers are familiar with turn based games like Galactic Civilization and Sid Meir’s Civilization. If you are not, reading the beginner’s guide will help give you an understanding of these types of games.

Dislikes – Tech tree doesn’t provide enough information. Usually there is just a small description and I like having more information. Another issue I have is I usually had no clue what techs I needed to get to a specific ship. When you research something, it tells you you need three other techs – but what are those techs that I need to build a battleship? The first game I played, I found that I could only build defenders and everyone else had these high power ships. It wasn’t until I went into the shipyards was I able to design better ships. Once I got the techs researched, did the “stock” ships begin showing up. I want information on what I need to get a “stock” ship. While I like building my own, I sometimes rather just have a stock ship available as well (though your designed ships will always be better than what they make). I wished that I read the manual sooner than I did. Ok, this last one is my fault – not Stardock’s. They provide a good manual and reading it will really help.

The battle scene animation are, well, the first time I saw it, I thought, cool, because the original didn’t have it. But by the third battle, I realized that either they could have done a better job, or they could have just left it out. The space battle scenes are more informative because you can watch what weapons work against another race’s spaceships.

I liked using the colony governor from the original Gal Civ. They are not an option in this game. The game does automatically upgrade buildings for you, which I like really a lot. But you always have to set what buildings you are to build in the queue. The governor is more to change what ships will be built.

There is no multi-player – YET. This doesn’t bother me at all, but for some people no multi-player is a huge dislike. Never fear for those who like multi-player. Stardock is already working on a multi-player expansion that they will release digitally.

Final Thoughts
You have to give kudos to a company that listens to their customers and takes care of them. They didn’t go the Oblivion route where they charge a buck for new skins for you starship. They give it to you free. They are obviously very proud of their game, and they should be because Galactic Civilization II: Dread Lords can go down as one of the best in 4X games. This is one of the must have games if you like turn-based 4X games.

Galactic Civilization II: Dread Lords is a very addicting game. Instead of writing the review, it became one more turn, just one more turn and I will start writing. One more turn and then I will go to bed. One more turn and then I will go get something to eat. Lucky for me, my wife understands that when I am playing Dread Lords, and say, “one more turn,” I will be quite a while longer.


Last edited by Jetherik; 05-30-2006 at 03:16 PM..
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Old 05-30-2006, 02:55 PM   #2
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Frogboy has said several times that Multiplayer is low on the list of priorities so far. They ran a poll and 67ish % said that tyhe game was fine without multiplayer. The 1st X-pack due out in the fall will be tweaks and new additions that people have been asking for, then they will begin to work on the 2nd X-pack and consider if multiplayer will be attempted in it.

I for one would love multiplayer, but it is low on the list of things in the future for them to add and may never come to be.

Besides that, Galciv2 is the best 4x game out there. The ship designer is amazing and the moddability is fantastic. Good Review.
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Old 05-30-2006, 03:58 PM   #3
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I'm sort of interested. My last turn-based game was Super Mario RPG for the snes.

Though for a downloadable game it sure isn't priced as a downloadable.

Thanks Jeth.
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Old 05-30-2006, 04:26 PM   #4
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The interface and AI still need work. Even on the highest non-cheating setting, AIs will do zany stuff like spread a bunch of unupgraded influence stations around random areas of space. At least the last few patches have made the computer a little bit competitive in the early game, initially even the best AIs would sit back and watch you take the galaxy as they focused on social production or research.
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Old 05-30-2006, 04:48 PM   #5
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A great company, a gem of a game. Will they survive?

This game is worth the price of admission and I love the no cd thing.
I hope these guys do well.
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Old 05-30-2006, 04:49 PM   #6
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I've been tempted to get this... but at the same time, Civ IV still has me captivated when I go looking for this sort of gameplay. I expect that the next strategy game I'll be buying wll be Spore, which of course isn't turn-based, but still a similar premise.
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Old 05-30-2006, 04:50 PM   #7
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The price is the same as the retail game. However you do not get a manual, but the tutorials do well, and the included digital manual is easy to print out and put in a binder.

Plus I would rather all my money go to the developer than to distributers and retail chains.
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Old 05-30-2006, 07:48 PM   #8
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I'm a new owner of GalCivII and after about 10 hours into it I can say that it's a pretty good game, but I'm sad that I paid $45USD for it instead of waiting for it to hit the bargain bin.

It's also sad that it doesn't have Multi. This is the kind of game that begs for some LAN actionn in my gaming circle.
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Old 05-31-2006, 07:22 AM   #9
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Try "beginner's strategy guide"

Good writeup on a great game. Mason's points are the deal breakers though. there are some things you don't notice until deep into the game. I've had some planets get 200 million people and go belly up. The only thing to do is disband the planet.
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Old 05-31-2006, 07:43 AM   #10
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Actually, it's not a "downloadable" price because it's ALSO available via download. It happens to be a box game too. You can get it at Walmart at the like.

Also, last I knew, isn't it 39.99? That's cheaper than most PC games at launch, and you get a lot for that price.

Excellent game.
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Old 05-31-2006, 08:33 PM   #11
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Another issue I have is I usually had no clue what techs I needed to get to a specific ship. When you research something, it tells you you need three other techs – but what are those techs that I need to build a battleship?
The last patch added that feature in, now when it says 3 techs required it lists what they are underneath.
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Old 05-31-2006, 09:10 PM   #12
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I'm loving Gal Civ 2. Been playing it every night the past couple weeks. In fact, I think I should go do that now.
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