Master of Orion - Critique
One more flavorless 4X game is just as unattractive whatever its name, though that name is synonymous with nostalgia among strategy game veterans. In the case of this Master of Orion reboot from NGD Studios, wrapping yourself in the glory of a legendary title while seeking originality in real-time combat and a star cast for vocals doesn't make not a terribly classic all-round structure more exciting for all that.
I'm not going to take this test comparing the new MMO to the old one, because when you put them next to each other, this game is probably better. But the reason the original and its sequel hold a special place in video game history is because of its pioneering role that is simply missing from this conservative comeback. In the 90s, Master of Orion 1 and 2 offered an exciting call for galactic exploration that fired the imagination. But in today's landscape, the new Master of Orion looks small and ordinary. I feel like I'm looking at a galaxy diagram in a school book rather than a spatial expanse filled with adventure to discover. This is something that has been done many times recently, and better.
The customization mechanics of his playable race, typical of the series, are back, but most of the bonuses available to create your humanoid robots or your horde of humanoid insects, or your good old humanoid humans, are just like + xx% to a resource. With one or two exceptions, most custom races or those offered by the game play the same way. Even mechanical ethnicities need food, we don't really know why; there are no specific technologies or ships for each race; and almost anyone can inhabit any type of planet without any problem.
There is one area where the new Master of Orion correctly reproduces the moments of wonder from the original, and that's on the Diplomacy screen. The breeds offer well-spirited leaders and advisers with excellent English voices. The sci-fi pros of the market are present, from John de Lancie (Star Trek: The Next Generation) as the imposing and charismatic human president, to Alan Tudyk of Firefly as the bighead scientist. I'm not a huge fan of the two robotic presenters who pop up every now and then for a state of the galaxy briefing skit, but it has remained great to chat with the cast of Race Leaders and their advisers.
Unfortunately, I didn't feel like these iconic characters were the ones making decisions for their races at the strategic level. In fact, their behavior often seems to be guided by anything but common sense. For example, I have often used a small fleet to block access to my space territory for pirates. Almost always, a fleet from a neighboring empire - most of the time one with which I was on good terms - would come and destroy this blockade, without even declaring war, before leaving again, for no obvious reason.
At least this random destruction of my ships allowed me to admire the very fun and highly tactical real-time combat. All of the ships in your fleet can be controlled on the battle map as RTS units, and admirals have their hands on some interesting and useful options like engagement distance, engine power, and combat formations. The game also offers a full ship building tool, although I have mostly built mine using the default options, with the recommended gear combinations as new tech unlocks, instead of playing with them. the designs each time I developed a new shield module.
Spaceship clashes aren't quite at the level of a game like Homeworld, but for a mostly turn-based title, the skill demanded by these battles is quite high and offers plenty of opportunities for vivid victories in situations. where nothing was won in advance. I once managed to foil the attack of a bloodthirsty alien cat armada with my pathetic local defense force (a few old frigates), sending them back to their baskets while avoiding a major invasion of my core systems. The combat engine of this Master of Orion could give birth to a game in its own right, and the latter would already be good in itself.
Alas, the strategy map is a rather boring, down-to-earth reproduction of that of the old-school Master of Orion, which means it looks like anything I've played in the last twenty years or so. After hundreds of turns colonizing planets from one generic solar system to another, and repetitively balancing my population according to their potential for food, production and science, I was hoping for something creative or sort of. ordinary to wake me up. But Master of Orion misses its chances of recovering or being inspired by the evolutions of the genre since the 90s. I had the most fun when I myself created my own challenge at the start of a game, by customizing a race of expert farmers, using the home world as an incubator and sending the excess population to the most distant colonies to fill a multitude of bases.
However, most of the objectives offered by Master of Orion are simple and not very interesting. Find a new system. Kill the pirates. Create a colony. Terraform a planet. Repeat. A pollution system that pushes you to manage the ecology on your most industrial planets tries to put its two cents in the formula, but only manages to force you to stop production to organize a complete cleaning of all operations. the dozens of towers.