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Endless Space Review

Justin Clouse | 17 Jul 2012 19:45
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The obvious advantage of these simplified battles is that it makes multi-player games far less tedious, since every engagement will be finished in a timely manner. The downside however is it gives very little freedom in what's often the big payout for a number of folks. You have this great level of control down to what each planet's improvements are, but you're not able to say focus fire on an enemy dreadnaught. The other problem is that it can quickly get rather tiresome seeing the same animations play out each time. There is the genre's tried and true Auto Battle, which crunches the numbers quickly and spits out the battles results, but tactics like retreating are only accessible from the command menu. I really did miss the tactically rich battles of some other games, but something about it just didn't bother me that much on the whole when weighed against my enjoyment of everything else the game did so well.

The rest of the game's management of planets, diplomacy and technology just hits all the right buttons to push you just "one more turn". There are even heroes that you can hire that will level up and acquire new stats and abilities. Some heroes are brave and bold fleet commanders that will give you access to new command cards, while others are simply really great administrators who will massively boost any colony they are set to oversee.

The true joy of Endless Space really lies with the replay potential behind systems like managing and hiring the randomly generating heroes. Every match can be lovingly crafted down the number of players, size of the galaxy and you can even custom create races from a massive list of traits, but there's also just enough randomness seeded in to keep things endlessly interesting.

There is one more aspect of Endless Space that's worth bringing up. The developers Amplitude Studios have a system in place called Games2Gether which allows players to direct development and provide feedback in a measured amount. It roughly works out by allowing players to vote on what features or fixes are most important to them, and the others will be added at a later date. There is currently voting on which should take precedence; a notification to players on the estimated time an invasion will take, a new annihilation victory condition or the option to raze a planet instead of conquering it. It's a really interesting idea that I love on a certain level. I have a slight concern that often the crowd mentality can make mountains of molehills. This could potentially lead to issues of having the community ignoring real issues and pushing voting for petty personal views. While we might often think we know better, most of us are, at best, armchair game designers. By presenting options instead of leaving themselves open for "nerf beams weapons they are OP", I think the developers will get around most of it.

So there you go. Endless Space is going to be my new go-to 4x for the time being. The title really is an accurate description of both the game's replay potential and its ability to drain away the hours.

Bottom line: Endless Space smooths over a lot of the issues typical to 4x space, but it also bulldozes perhaps a bit much in the combat.

Recommendation: If you're looking for entry into the 4x space genre, Endless Space will be perfect for you.

What our review scores mean.

Game: Endless Space
Genre: Turn-Based Strategy
Developer: Amplitude Studios
Publisher: Iceberg Interactive
Platform(s): PC
Available from: Amazon(US), GameStop(US), Amazon(UK)

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