I'm not usually a fan of strategy wargames, but I make an exception for one game and one game only. Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares has sucked me back in recently and rekindled my love of anything 80s-90s scifi.
It surprises me that I don't see much conversation about the Master of Orion series, so I thought I'd show it a little long-deserved love.
Build an Interstellar Empire
Originally released in 1996 by Simtex, Master of Orion II is much like any other civilization-building game, just set in space. You pick your race from a list of interesting aliens (including humans), pick your empire's color, and start with one homeworld colony in one system at the edge of a galaxy. You can pick the names for everything from your leader to your home world to the name of every system and planet you settle in.
Over the course of the game, you build colonies, explore solar systems, research and discover new technology, build political relationships with other civilizations, and grow your military might. You also have to manage food in your colonies and an imperial treasury. Random events influence these happenings as well; you can get locked out of warp-speed travel, invaded by space amoebas, or find lost civilizations to incorporate into your empire, among others.
The goal of the game is to take over the Orion system located somewhere in the middle of the galaxy (which is protected by a fiercely strong guardian) and expand your empire until you're the only regime standing. You compete against 1-7 other empires (you can choose how many, but the default is 2 opponents) to see who can expand and explore fastest and who can rule most effectively.
The Nostalgia of the DOS Games
I've loved this particular game since I was a child. It's a game my granddad picked up - he's been a fan of these kinds of society-builder games since the first Civilization came out. He introduced it to me one summer when we came to visit, and my mom installed it on our old brick computer when we got back home.
I played this game for hours, simply enjoying the graphics and the sci-fi feel. I was never very good at it, of course, being a small child, and I usually ended up asking my mother to step in and help me. Still, playing this game today brings up fun memories of crouching in our dark "computer room" (read: junk room/library/mom's office with an extra computer for me and my siblings to play on), listening to typical space-opera-style music and arguing with my older sister who wanted to play Monkey Island. It's a complicated game that reminds me of simpler times.
There is an updated version of the game available with better graphics and I'm assuming smoother gameplay, but I think the classic versions of the game will always be my favorite for this reason.
Master of Orion is an excellent game for people who enjoy the Civilization series and who enjoy retro space-themed adventures. It's easy to play and hard to master, which makes it an excellent game for tuning out the world and relaxing for a few hours.
You can get Master of Orion II on Steam.
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