Imperium Galactica II: Alliances

The original Imperium Galactica was an overly ambitious title. It tried to combine the grand-scale strategy of 4X space empire-builders with Command and Conquer ground combat and (as if that wasn’t enough) tossed in some SimCity-ish colony design for good measure. Each of these elements wound up inferior to those found in more focused titles, and while the game had an interesting story arc, its complete lack of replay value doomed it to obscurity.

16_1Imperium Galactica 2: Alliances has significantly improved over its predecessor. Most importantly, the game offers three single player campaign races, each of which has a distinctive feel. The Kra’hen, for example, are raving militarists, while the Shinari focus on the subtleties of espionage and diplomacy and the Solarians (humans) are technologically supreme. Better still, each Alliances campaign begins with a randomly generated starmap, with a randomized story and a lot more replay value.

Another excellent feature in Imperium Galactica 2 is the “autobuild” function. Many 4X games offer colony management assistance, but none have done it better than Alliances. Each planet can have separate autobuild settings that focus on civilian construction, military buildings, research, defense, and so on. Priority toggles help ensure that backwater planets far from the frontier don’t consume your entire budget. As your empire grows, the autobuild function becomes more and more important, freeing you from tedious colony management and allowing you to focus on the big picture. Yes, if you want to take the time, you can probably do a better job yourself—but not much better.

True to its name, Alliances also offers a nice diplomatic and espionage model. Neighboring races are quick to take advantage of any perceived military weakness (after all, it’s faster for them to steal your colonies than build their own from scratch), but they respect equals and grovel before superior strength. Trade and research accords, non-aggression pacts, alliances, and the like are possible. Spies are very well implemented, with missions that range from sabotage to counterintelligence to assassination. As your agents increase in level, new, harder missions become possible, but there is always a chance that they will be captured by their target and killed or converted into double agents.

Despite these nice points, Imperium Galactica 2 has some problems. Multiplayer mode, quite bluntly, is a joke. Both space and ground battles are auto-resolved by the computer instead of being fought out tactically. At a stroke, this eliminates the entire reason for playing a multiplayer game—if you can’t personally smash your enemy’s forces and show off your superior ship design and tactical skills, why bother playing at all? While the cutscenes and message screens are adequate, space combat is poorly implemented.

6The combat model is also lacking some basic interface features found in other RTS titles. Alliances has never heard of waypoints, formations, good pathfinding, or unit grouping. The AI is also pathetic. Enemy tanks will advance on your forts strung out in long columns, allowing you to blast them into oblivion one by one. Trying to be everything for everyone is almost always a recipe for disaster, and Imperium Galactica 2 holds true to this rule. It’s not nearly as good as its more focused betters, but one should not discount it entirely. Through the oddball design there is a game that is generally amusing in concentrated dosages.

System Requirements: Pentium 133 MHz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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