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Forge your empire
Falling somewhere between the sublime heights of Master of Orion 2 or Sword of the Stars and the wretched lows of Master of Orion 3, Galactic Civilizations II is something of a divisive entry in the turn-based science fiction strategy genre. The game follows the template laid down by other such games, and sees you choosing from a wide range of different alien races, each with their own unique traits, abilities and tech trees and then venturing out into the galaxy to carve out an empire of your own. There are all the usual elements you would expect from such a title, including creating your own ships, piece by piece, engaging in massive space battles, carrying out research into new technology, forging political alliances with other races and generally exploring. The game is pretty open ended, and you can choose to follow whatever path you like, which is a big plus point, while if you don't like any of the defined races, you can always create your own. On paper, this sounds like it should be a great addition to the genre, and indeed in many ways it is a fine example. The sheer depth of options is impressive, with plenty of things to tweak and explore, while the range of races also adds even more choice, with each one playing significantly differently. The graphics are pleasing rather spectacular, with decent design work that is pleasing to the eye, while the UI is pretty efficient and allows even newcomers to get into things quickly. However, there are major problems with things like the AI, while there's also a distinct lack of actual fun at times. Try by all means, but with caution.