Master of Orion 3
Most gaming aficionados remember the original Master of Orion and its sequel with fondness. The original titles were some of the finest turn-based simulations'true pioneers of the genre. Now Infogrames and designer Quicksilver Studios brings us the third part of this highly addictive series. Master of Orion 3 features exhaustive, dynamic space empire building, utilizing extensive military, technological, diplomatic, and colonization disciplines to forward your agenda: total galactic domination.
The question is: Even with all these points going for it, why is this title such a letdown?
True, MOO3 has many interesting and worthwhile aspects, as well as a few improvements over previous titles. Diplomacy plays a greater role than previously, and computer opponents and general AI, especially when dealing with the planetary 'viceroy,'? is also much improved. AI tended to make more sensible choices, and some screens made previous aspects of game control much easier. Graphics are also light-years ahead of previous MOO titles, and audio is, while somewhat sparse, well done.
Also, multiplayer aspects seem to be doing well. MOO3 uses the Gamespy Network to find Internet based games in play, and MOO3 looks to have a small but devoted following at this time. For the most part, lag does not seem to be much of an issue, but I was unable to do a real-time battle during my online experience.
However, many aspects of MOO3 should have been scrapped at the beginning. One glaring problem is the 165 page manual. While holding an interesting background storyline for the game, material inside is poorly organized and not extremely helpful. Gamers unfamiliar with Master of Orion will have a hard time jumping in, especially with inadequate instructions. Many aspects of game control, once intuitive, are now more difficult to find and much less user friendly. Try finding how to raise your newly colonized planets population and you'll see what I mean.
Inconsistencies abound as well. The fact that many favored races are not included in this title was a disappointment, but going through what amounts to be the exact same tech tree as the original MOO (with some new additions) just seemed inappropriate. The game is turn-based, so when the newer, real-time combat module was introduced, I thought I would be intrigued. However, the basic graphics and non-intuitive play of this interface was possibly the most disappointing factor in this game, with an odd lack of full control of your battle fleet other than basic orders.
Master of Orion 3, while succeeding in many aspects, fails miserably in others. While die hard fans of the Master of Orion games will definitely find some enjoyment of this title, it proves to be complex, confusing, and ultimately a lot more of an investment to the novice or uninitiated gamer. However, the title is still shades better than 'Not Recommended.'