From the Hip: Endless Space

An exceedingly well-executed and designed space 4X strategy game that stumbles a bit with a lack of personality that typically characterises its predecessors such as Star Control 2 or even newer competitors such as Stardrive.  It's much more Master of Orion-esque in that, but if you liked that kind of game, then you will certainly enjoy Endless Space.
From the Hip: Endless Space
Date published: Apr 21, 2014
2 / 3 stars

Endless Space is a space 4X strategy game developed and published by AMPLITUDE Studios.  It's a sleekly presented 4X game that's something of a wonder child for the UNITY engine, and certainly proof that more complex games can be made with the engine, although it certainly also highlights some of the flaws in the engine.

The presentation is both the strongest suit of the game and also what puts some people off.  It's presented in a very clear and logical format, with items presented in a logical selection of sub-screens.  It's very clean, and that's also the crux of why it puts some people off.  Unlike Star Control 2 that had some great personality to the different races available, the presentation of racial interaction and diplomacy is just as sterile as the rest of Endless Spaces' interface.  It's unfortunate.  For some people this sinks the game.  Personally, I would say that it is certainly say what has kept a good game from being a great game, but it is still a good game regardless.  It just has an unrealised potential that could have been tapped to make it better.

Graphically, the game is indeed pretty impressive for a UNITY engine game.  Together with the polish in the interface and the gorgeous loading screen art its graphically rather impressive.  The camera view in the combat sections makes for some sweeping shots of starship combat that are quite nice.  There's certainly shinier games out there, don't get me wrong, but the game has a careful attention to the production values all the way through that shows.  The music that accompanies the game is likewise quite good.

I spend as much time on the presentation as I do because the mechanics are bog standard.  They're done competently but there's nothing particularly new to the genre here.  The one thing that is done differently from the genre standard is the combat.  It's kind of a halfway between tactical combat and simply ordering a unit to attack and getting an auto-calculated result.  Instead, you choose tactic at long range, medium range, and close range.  There are a variety of different categorizations of tactics and each tactic is strong against one category and weak against another.  So essentially it creates a paper scissors stone game in the mechanics that is kind of simplistic.  Some of them don't seem very balanced though.  There's a few you'll be to unlock after some time in the game that are just objectively better than any other tactic in the category.  Nonetheless it does add a small amount of depth to combat that is otherwise auto-calculated.

The Final Word: Recommended - At the end of the day its a well-executed game that does the genre pretty well but doesn't have anything that really sets it apart other than the high production values.  It's certainly well-made and a good entry into the genre, however.  It just isn't going to set the world on fire.