Armada 2526 is a galactic space simulation in the mold of Galactic Civilizations and Masters of Orion (the original Armada 2525 was a precursor to Masters of Orion). You control an empire and must lead your people/treemen/brainjellyfish across the galaxy to fulfil certain racial conditions and claim universal domination. The game comes with four scenarios, a random galaxy generator, a map designer, a tutorial, a space battle simulator, and hot-seat multiplayer. The main game structure is turn-based space exploration, where you explore, colonise planets, build facilities and research tech. There are 12 races to control and contest, each with their own goals, strengths and weaknesses, identical tech trees and units, and appallingly animated low-res avatars.. The maps aren't huge, so you can get through a game in a few hours.
When you encounter hostile enemy forces you drop into real-time combat. These battles aren't huge or complex; they're pokey predictable things where the control system is so abstruse and the time limit so stingy that it s easier to auto resolve than beat up the pathetic enemy AI (no difficulty levels means you're stuck with it.) And if there are any of the super-cheap planet defences installed attackers might as well give up, the balance is completely off.
As a space 4X title, 2526 is almost acceptable. This is the plain girl that you introduce to your mother and she qives a pained smile about, because she knows your ex was much nicer/brainier/ hotter. That ex is GalCiv and the reason you left her was commitment. GalCiv is gorgeous, intelligent, strong, varied, and a great storyteller, but isn't half a time-sink. This girl may blend in with the wallpaper a bit and have off-putting lonely hobbies like philately, but she doesn't need much attention.
This isn't a bad 4X game. GalCiv II is so complex it's best expressed most easily in space opera narratives - "And then my race of retarded chimp-gods sailed their banana-barges up the dread lords' bums" - but while 2526 is faster and pared down, it's less imaginative, easy to beat and badly balanced.
Our first issue reviewed the RTS-defining Dune II, and we've covered such delights as Galactic Civilizations, Star Control3 and FreeSpace 2 over the years, so it's a pity we couldn't go out with a bang, 'whimper*
Download Armada 2526
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP