Galactic Civilizations 2

By Shamus Posted Wednesday Dec 20, 2006

Filed under: Game Reviews 21 comments

Galactic Civilizations 2, which I’ve written about before, is up for strategy game of the year over at Gamespot. (Based on member votes.) Man, it would be really great if GC2 won. The game is tremendous, fun, stable, cheap, free of DRM and copy-protection annoyances, and now has a couple of free bonus downloads available that add even more to the game. But, the game is turn-based, which makes it sort of niche. The kids want to play the latest Warcraft “Battle for three resources clickfest” remix, not granddad’s turn-based strategy game.

Gamespot makes no sense. They have console games and PC games lumped together. These are very different audiences, of very different sizes, and putting them together is odd. They have real-time strategy and turn-based strategy lumped together as well, which is also kind of odd.

What you end up with is a situation where what game wins depends far more on the demographics of the members than on the merits of the game itself.

But all of this is just preemptive sour grapes. I haven’t even played any of the other games in the running. I played enough RTS to last me a lifetime back when Starcraft ruled the Earth, and the newer games don’t give me a compelling reason to revisit the genre. GC2 has a disappointing 11% of the vote. There are five games in the running, which suggests that GC2 is kind of… not winning.

Dang kids.


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21 thoughts on “Galactic Civilizations 2

  1. Deoxy says:

    I, too, played back in the days of Starcraft, but I will say that I found Warcraft 3 still worth playing, due to the added hero-types, which really affected the game.

    Of course, by “worth playing” I don’t mean that I’m still playing it, or anything, but I’m a seriosu turned-based grognard (I still play MoO 2 and judge games in comparison to it), and I still managed to enjoy it. There’s a reason why Blizzard rules the gaming world – they make good stuff.

  2. Carl the Bold says:

    Now, that’s the second time Shamus has used the “kind of…not winning” line. Can anyone clue me in to the allusion?

  3. Shamus says:

    Deoxy: I agree – MoO 2 was the high point. Incredible game. I don’t have it anymore, alas. But that was the high point for this sort of game. GC2 does really, really well – but I think MoO 2 still edges it out.

    MoO 3 was (sadly) total rubbish, though. Too bad.

  4. Shamus says:

    Carl: “kind of… not winning” – This one was just a allusion to the first one, just to see who would notice. :)

  5. Gothmog says:

    Bah. Gamespot has NO BUSINESS voting best strategy game of the year. That’s like Arafat winning a Nobel Peace Pri… uh, nevermind.

    Anyway- The two oft-overlooked games out this year that SHOULD be up there in my not so humble opinion- are 1.) Space Empires V- a game that is a far closer mirror to MoO 2 than GalCiv 2 and… 2.) Dominons III (I know, I’ve geeked out about this game before on this site- sorry. I’m a FAN.)- which is a great Master of Magic-type turn-based strategy game.

    Heck, I can find SEV at least when searching on the gamespot voting site- but Dominions 3 doesn’t even come UP. :( Phooey

    You can grab demos of those two offa, btw.

  6. bkw says:

    Just went and bought GC2. The initial account set-ups and logins and confirmations are a bit of a bother; it’s unfortunate that there’s not a very elegant way of handling account creation.

    I also picked up Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 the other day, which does indeed promise hours and hours and hours of fun. When I saw the word “easements” I backed out and went to play Majesty (hey neat it’s a free download now) — didn’t have a few hours to really delve into RC at the time…

    You might find Majesty amusing —’s full product description is here.

  7. bkw says:

    Drat. I think my last post (containing a couple links) was eaten by the filter.

    Thought you might get a kick out of Majesty (google search “atari majesty” — has it as a free download now). It’s not as deep as RC (or GC2), but fun, requires smaller increments of time, and neat in an ant-colony kind of way.

  8. Shamus says:

    Comment: Rescued from spam filter.

    Really, if I could take Akismet out back and whip it, I would.

  9. Bogan the Mighty says:

    I hate to be the one to say it, but I think Gamespot got it assuming I read it right. Company of Heroes is definately the best strategy game of the year. THQ made a good attempt last year when they got game of the year or whatever from somebody when they made Dawn of War. Its a change from collecting 3 minerals to win types. Instead its you capture a point and it generates resources for you and you also have to build power plants. Point is that they basically threw out the economy part of the game to focus on combat. If you are winning the battles than you are winning the resources. They also add a lot more to the strategy by making you protect those points instead of just one base at the opposite end of you opponent. Company of Heroes does basically the same thing and is definately worth the time to play.

  10. Rich says:

    Big agreement with previous comments. MOO2 is the gold standard in my book. I still regularly play that and the original X-COM. A classic is a classic.

  11. It would be nice if my old friend Brad Wardell, founder of Stardock, had won but I doubt he’s particularly concerned that he didn’t. Brad’s pretty level headed about that kind of thing.

  12. Cineris says:

    MOO2 is definitely my favorite turn based strategy game. (X-Com is classic, but damn is it hard. The difficulty really knocks it down compared to MOO2, which can be as easy as hard as you like.) GalCiv2 is nice, but the economic model of the game turned me off to it — It’s so “simplified” that it actually obfuscates what’s really going on. It can be pretty irritating when you don’t know from one turn to another whether you’re going to be in the red or how building / not-building / conquering a planet / etc is going to affect your economy.

    Adding features to simplify the micromanagement involved in games like MOO2 (especially if you conquer the galaxy and you end up with hundreds of planets under your control…) is fine — Simplifying in a way that makes the obsessive-compulsive micromanagement that I enjoy in turn-based strategy impossible is not so good. GalCiv2’s kind of simplistic tech tree, combat, races, and so on generally make it an accessible modern successor, but no replacement for MOO2.

    I’ve got a mind to try out Civilization 4 one of these days, but I have no time to set aside a whole day for conquering the world. I am kind of interested in Space Empires V, now, though…

  13. bkw says:

    Mmm. Laser Rifle economy.

    X-com is available for download from’s website (search for UFO – Enemy Unknown).

    Wow, it looks like they have the entire series (Terror from the Deep and Apocalypse). Neat.

    They have the original MOO at abandonia, but not MOO2.

    Which is probably just as well. I woke up early and played GC2 for a couple hours this morning before heading to work. Yowza.

  14. Cineris says:

    Also, a note or addendum to my comments on Galactic Civilizations 2 above: My experiences are pretty much only with the early versions of the game. Stardock’s been good about patching the game, but I haven’t really had all that much time to try out the new patches, so who knows how much of my criticisms have already been addressed. (I’m pretty sure they did some significant upgrades to the economy, for example.)

  15. Shamus says:

    Cineris: I would sya that the economy problems you describe still exist. Sometimes I’m booming, then I’ll make a few small changes and suddenly I’m losing tons of cash each turn. I don’t think it’s random or “wrong”. It’s just, as you pointed out, not obvious and therefore detracting from the fun.

    I REALLY wish I could find MOO2. One of my favorite parts of the game: deciding where to put the conquered slaves to work. >:D

  16. Shamus says:

    Gothmog: I would just like to point out that Arafat did a great service to the peace process.

    He died.

    They just gave him the award early. :)

  17. Rich says:

    “I REALLY wish I could find MOO2. One of my favorite parts of the game: deciding where to put the conquered slaves to work. >:D” has it for sale. New and used, last I checked.

  18. Deoxy says:

    “One of my favorite parts of the game: deciding where to put the conquered slaves to work.”

    Actually, if you really want to get a high score, after you’ve basically kicked everybody’s high quarters, start taking planets, then giving them back.

    One of the things that gives you score is how many population units you captured (as opposed to annihilating from orbit, like I tend to do). It’s VERY abusable… not that I would ever consider it, of course. :-)

  19. Will says:

    Actually, I had just such a situation happen last. Every thing was humming along at a nice 3000+ surplus. The next turn all the numbers went upside down and sideways. But I forgot that I’d just finished researching Industrial Sectors, so now every planet was diverting profit making resources into manufacturing upgrades. 40 turns later it’s still going on because I don’t have the money to just buy all the buildings outright. Thank god I had (had) a hefty surplus.

  20. Acksiom says:

    I seem to be the only person in the cosmos who found MOO2 to be rather a non-improvement over the original. Foremost among my dislikes was how they dumbed-down and oversimplified the fiddly bits I like best.

    But yah, MOO3 pretty much holds the patent for sucktastic disappointment. Looking forward to it as much as I did, I kept myself very well-informed on its development, and I put primary blame upon the art director, who appears to have been given waaaayy too much power over the overall design choices in general than he was really competent to exert.

  21. Felblood says:

    Having tried it thanks to this thread and promptly spent the next month playing it, I have to second the kudos to the XCOM series. I beat UFO Defense quite quickly, but Terror From the Deep is thrashing me all across the room.

    I’m being tempted to look up some cheats on gamefaqs, but I hope to crack this thing before it goes that far.

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