Yesterday, I played MOO 2 nonstop. The game is very addictive! There are many great things about MOO 2 such as the better graphics, crisper sounds, even a soundtrack. The addiction is there, yet I found the game less satisfactory. Here’s why.
MOO 1 is about the ships. In MOO 1, the micromanagement is very basic. Each star is its own ‘colony’, so to say, and you have sliders to gauge the technology or ship building or whatever. The larger the colony is, the more ‘points’ you can slide in a direction.
Master of Orion 1 really revolves around the ships. The colonies exist only as a base of making more ships and getting better technology for them. This is why you have some epic battles back and forth.
Master of Orion 2 is a very different creature.
MOO2 revolves around the buildings. Even the ‘huge’ galaxy seems very small. But each star has several planets. Most of them are trash. The good ones have space dragons and space eels defending them (seriously!). You could have one star system but have many colonies in it. The problem is each colony acts exactly like a city in Civilization. They have ‘buildings’ and upkeep and all that crap. If it were not for the queue system of being able to arrange 6 buildings in building order, MOO2 would be unplayable. Everyone knows this.
While MOO1 game would evolve into choke points where every turn counted, MOO2 evolves into a ‘building race’. It is not about the starships. In MOO 2, you have ‘farms’ like in Warcraft 2. Each starbase you have allows you build a certain number of ships. You have to spam starbases and other various buildings in order to make Your Glorious Fleet. I guarantee you, you will spend the vast majority of the time in MOO2 making buildings than anything else in the game. They should call the game Master of Buildings because that is what you do.
The combat plays out similar in both, but MOO2 feels broken. In MOO1, ships would ‘stack’ if they were the same type. After all, this is a video game and not everything is shown. But they try to show each ship as separate in MOO2. This makes combat extremely tedious and plain unentertaining. You will often just hit the ‘Auto’ button and watch the battle play itself out because who wants to be giving 5 commands per ship if you have dozens of ships!
The atmosphere and graphics are all very, very cool. But the combat makes you want to fall asleep. And at the end of the video, notice how he makes half a dozen queue list of BUILDINGS, MORE BUILDINGS!
In MOO1, the stacking worked because it made combat more manageable. It was cool to make tons of teeny tiny ships which could chew up big stuff.
I hear Steve Barcia wasn’t as involved in Master of Orion 2 which might explain the gameplay differences. Aside from what I’ve said, MOO2 is a compelling game experience in its own right. I do like the Antarans and how there is a target after you get the Orion technology. I like being able to make a customized race, I like the new races, I basically love everything about Master of Orion 2 except for the building spam.
If the reader is a philistine and does not own Master of Orion 1 or 2 (for shame!), then here is the link. Wishlist it and wait for it to go on sell (GOG will send you an email). Then buy it for like two dollars. You get two of the best, most addictive strategy games ever made for a couple of bucks. It is the best bang per buck in gaming.
Get Master of Magic too.
But do stay away from Master of Orion 3.