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The first MOO truly is the Baldur's Gate II of strategy games. You think it isn't? Come on in and see how wrong you are.[This is the second in a series of posts informing everyone which exactly are the best games ever. Read the inaugural Baldur's Gate II entry here.]MOO vs. Civilization IVWhat's more fun: counting out worker forest-chopping turns, or deciding between research on gatling lasers or planetary shields? How about the difference between designing a space cruiser with the right balance of pulsar missiles and disruptor cannons, or picking between +10 percent healing and a 25 percent bonus to defense in forest tiles? Hint: The answer is the one that makes you feel like an awesome space dictator.Civ IV lets you customize your empire in dozens of unique little ways. That's great and all, but MOO gives you 90 percent of the effect (i.e. where your people and robots are spending their time and resources) with 10 percent of the effort. Do you really care about the type of pollution your factories are dumping into the environments of your colonies? I suppose you might, but I'm busy ordering my enormous space fleets to hustle to the other end of my empire to fend off an incoming invasion of silicon-based rock people and their Death Spores. Can't I just throw a big pile of money at my environmental protection agencies and have them deal with it? Yes, yes I can. Master of Orion's simple sliders for resource allocation give plenty of control and nuance without bogging down the player with lame, insignificant decisions.Civilization's embrace of alternative victory conditions is admirable, but it comes at a price. Make sure your people are farming enough food to let the idle rich doodle away on art so your culture grows! Don't forget to build courthouses so your minions can't siphon off huge chunks of your money with corruption in outlying provinces! Fund expensive universities so your society keeps up with worldwide research, or die ignobly!Ugh. Sometimes you just want to conquer the galaxy without holding your entire empire's hand. Nobody ever became Master of Orion by having the fanciest pants.
Master of Orion vs. Total War: Shogun 2Man, talk about diplomacy. Shogun 2 is less about honorable combat as it is making sure your daughters are married off to the right lords and your foreign bribes are kept up to date. I could conquer Japan in a single evening of play if it weren't for the fact that I have to check what my diplomatic modifiers with the entire freaking country are every turn.Screw all that. One people: yours. One goal: Kill everyone else. Everything comes down to that. Sick of endgame tedium? Skip the "conquest" part of the invasion and sterilize the enemy's worlds from orbit. Tired of diplomatic wrangling? Skip it – you'll be murdering them later anyway. Yes, you can beat the game by winning a Galactic Council election, but that pretty much only happens because you've thinned out the voting population sufficiently to ensure yourself a majority.And then there's battle. Shogun 2 basically has two kinds of units: Cannon fodder and awesomesauce death machines. The twist is that ADMs get tired if they murder too much cannon fodder, and then they get swarmed over by the endless legions of peasants the AI insists on building.You know what doesn't get tired? Laser cannons. My proud fleets of fully customized starships never complain about being so amazing that they've murdered every last one of the alien scum trying to wipe out their wives and children. I like to think that they thank me, their benevolent emperor, for giving them the opportunity to defend their loved ones (and claim their descendants' rightful places as uncontested masters of the galaxy) with the fancy toys I provide my admirals with.
Master of Orion vs. Master of Orion III've got a lot of love for MOO II, but man alive is that game broken. You can win at game creation by choosing the Psilons (or a Creative custom race), or the Sakkra (or a Subterranean custom race), or the Humans (or a Charismatic custom race), or by not being terrible at games (or any custom race).Seriously. I've had fantastic, challenging games of Master of Orion (despite the craptastic AI, which of course isn't any better in MOO II) with every single race. The unique racial abilities are a perfect balance of being nice, noticeable bonuses (unlike Civ IV's often-invisible traits, for example) without breaking the game through the kind of obscene, obvious imbalances in MOO II.If you're not into picking overpowered abilities, just equip your ships with multi-warhead missiles. Or auto-firing phasors. Or inertial stabilizers and decent engines. I can think of a half-dozen near-invincible ship designs off the top of my head, and MOO II is a game from 1996.Unlike the sequel, you almost never get stuck hammering the end turn button. It's often the most effective play to turtle up and build colony improvement after colony improvement in MOO II, since they have such a massive feedback loop in goosing your planets' output. Stopping expansion (and later, invasions) in Master of Orion is a quick way to lose, which means that every session is a mad scramble to colonize more planets, protect what you have, and blow up the other empires before they can do unto you.I'm sure I've missed a few reasons why Master of Orion is better than other games, and why newer games fail to match the brilliance of Steve Barcia's peerless classic. Let me know in the comments!Or bring some weak arguments as to why some other game might approach Master of Orion in overall genius, so we can all have a good laugh.
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I registered here just to agree with this. The words above are correct.
Masters Of Orion and Masters Of Magic are THE strategy games that got me hooked on strategy games. I hold both those games in high regard against others in the strategy genre. Good read, Adam. I have to agree 100%. And thanks to GoG, you can experience these gems to this day.
Its a good game but a game like Starcraft offers a different type of strategy but is still equally deep in the way it all works. Still a very good game when compared to Total War And Civ.
Just played through MOO a couple of weeks ago. Couldn't agree more.
But Adam, you seem like just the reviewer I've been looking for to reach into the past and bring forth the total awesomeness that is Darklands.
Come on. I know you're up for it.
dillon, i couldn't agree more. Starcraft is an amazing game.
I just discovered GOG and I must say, these games are amazing. I've started off with Baldur's Gate II and even though I don't understand the mechanics well (hope the tutorial's good) I'm enjoying it so far. Maybe you should try out the Ur-Quan Masters next. ;)
Adam, I completely agree with you in regards to the games you compared it against, MOO is superior. That being said, I offer up two counters to MOO:
UFO: Enemy Unknown (The original Xcom didn't have Xcom in the title).
Galactic Civilizations 2.
Sorry to be late to the party Adam, I just noticed this blog. For all those positives about the game you listed, a couple negatives do stand out.
* Some of the races are hopelessly over-powered once you have even a rudimentary understanding of the game (Klackons, Humans, Psilons, and Silicoids are probably the biggest offenders) while some of the other races are woefully under-powered (Alkari and Darlocks, I'm looking at you).
* Some of the mid-level tech advancements also make it almost impossible to get beat by what the AI is puting on their ships (high engery focus and a better battle computer ensures that the enemy fleet is usually destroyed before their missiles even launch).
* Planetary defenses are near useless about halfway through the game, yet the AI will still retreat from attacking your planet if it has enough missile bases (usually a few hundred will scare them off). This is despite the fact that one blast from their weapons would decimate the entire population, rendering the missile bases useless.
* It's ridiculously easy to bribe a hostile race into liking you again and to exploit the diplomatic channels. For example, I just destroyed three of their planets and invaded two others in one turn. Their hate level of my race is at maximum. On my next turn I gave them a bunch of extra cash I had lying around and some outdated tech. Their hate level has evened out to neutral, so I sign a non-aggression pact. ONE TURN LATER.
For all those nit-picks, though, I have to agree that MOO is the best 4X game ever. Like you said, even with those exploits, you have to constantly expand or die. Like you, I also really enjoyed MOO 2 despite it being so easy to break (Democratic, Lucky, Lithovores FTW!).
Here's to hoping that a true sequel is in the works at some point (MOO 3 was garbage) or at least a spiritual successor that can capture the same vibe without all the added complexity that most make the mistake of including (...cough....Galatic Civilizations...cough..).
MoO is the best strategy game of the electronic age so far- Agreed! It is the only game as an adult that I return to and play occasionally other than Risk or Chess. I pray for someone to port it to Android or iOS.
Civ is a fair comparison and deserves to be in the running but Starcraft, AoE, Total War, etc are not strategy games. Total War has a few elements of strategy but you could probably make nearly random moves on the campaign map and still win the game just fighting the battles which are tactical not strategic. RTS reward dexterity and quick thinking. I played both Starcraft and AoE in 100s of ranked matches online and can testify to that. MoO is a solitary game without any hotseat capability and so it is also difficult to compare it to some other games.
The strategy games which should be in the running are 1. MoO 2. Heroes of Might and Magic 2&3, 3. Civ, 4. Hearts of Iron, 5. XCOM, 6. Europa Universalis
Hybrid strategy/tactical games are; Total War, Panzer General, Close Combat, Company of Heroes, Galactic Civ, Sins of Solar Empire, Sword of Stars, etc
RTS is about tactics and speed, not strategy. Starcraft, AoE, Command&Conquer, Total Annihilation, Warhammer 40K, etc
BTW- Darlocks and Psilons are the most powerful races in MoO. Not sure why you are so dismissive of Darlocks. I've won more Impossible level games with them than any other race. Their spying bonus is huge and means you only need to focus all tech research on computers, you can steal everything else while fomenting wars between the other races.
Alkari are also not to be dismissed- their defense bonus means they can be several techs behind in military and still win battles.
Most difficult races on Impossible have to be Mrrshan and Meklar both of whose bonuses don't come into much effect until midway thru the tech race. Meklars will have 4 planets and still be building factories when Klackon with 20 planets come sweeping in on Impossible. Mrrashan attack bonus is made irrelevant much faster than Alkari's defense bonus by battle computers and they also piss off most other races and will be attacked relentlessly.
Humans, Darlocks, and Psilon are the easiest races. Klackon, Silicoid, Sakkra, Bulrathi, and Alkari are average. Meklar and Mrrshan are the most difficult in MoO. Bulrathi and Meklar are probably the most subject to luck as Bulrathi require enemy races to start close to use their ground combat bonus while Meklar benefit from a long turtle and if can develop even a handful of planets in peace will be quite powerful but if they are attacked early its very hard to use their bonus as production is required for tech research, combat fleets, and planetary defenses.
Yeah, I disagree. Are you sure you're not thinking of MOO2? Spying was greatly improved in that game over MOO1. In MOO1 the only good thing spying could do for you was steal tech. Which, while that was good, was only really useful in cases where other races have better tech than you. They usually only have a lot better tech than you when they're a lot bigger than you. Stealing from someone tends to make them hate you (which they already do), which then causes them to come and beat you down -even with your best attempts at framing. Normally, since you have no bonuses in production, population growth, ship combat, or anything else... getting beat down is pretty easy. It's also pretty hard to get back to neutral once the race is pissed off because they're naturally pre-disposed to hate you. Darlock's were honestly the hardest to win with for me on impossible. It took me several attempts, despite being a veteran player.
I also found that once I'd stolen one tech, it was pretty hard to steal more, as the AI would jack up their counter-intel to combat any further stealing. If they had a more powerful economy, then that spying advantage meant very little. Again, the loss of any of the other bonuses was a massive hit.
I agree that the Mrrshan's are also fairly crap, but the Alkari I found to be even worse. Their bonus is only helpful at the beginning of the game or when you're fairly evenly matched against the other fleet. I tend to build my ships and tech up with a philosophy of always getting the first hit, as such the Mrrshan's bonus is far better, as I would rather hit them extra hard at the beginning and then hope they don't have enough left to do much damage to me.
Klackon's and humans, for me are by far the easiest (Psilons a close 3rd). The Klackon's production bonus was so massive that I seriously could usually run right over the first 2-3 races I'd run into. The Humans were broken because you could get away with almost anything by paying a small bribe. The other races being pre-disposed to love you was HUGE.
Anyway, regardless, it's a fantastic game. Here's to hoping for worthy sequel!