Endless Space is a turn-based 4X strategy game set in space. For those of you who haven’t played Master of Orion (MOO), it’s essentially Civilization in space. You colonize planets, research techs, and make space dust of any alien foolish enough to get in your way.
Endless Space seems to have been heavily influenced by both MOO and Sid Meyer’s Civilization, and bravo for that. Although there have been a few 4X space games in the almost decade since MOO3, this is by far the best I’ve seen. The interface does take a little getting used to, and the tutorial is a bit of a pain, but after a few hours of game play you’ll be setting new production, research, and designing new warships with ease.
One feature unique to Endless Space is the random global bonuses (which can also be negative). These tend to be either a percentage increase (or decrease) in some stat(s), or 2 free techs. Examples of this are: -80% sight distance for all races, or +20% happiness. Another nice thing is that the diplomacy screen is all color-coded so, unlike Civilization, you can negotiate with the correct aliens without having to first match the name of the civ with its leader (not hard I know, but I like the convenience).
Combat is interesting in this game too. The number of units you can use to fight is limited, but can be upgraded with techs. This means no epic Sins of a Solar Empire battles, so simply building large numbers of ships isn’t necessarily the best strategy. Keeping your ship designs up to date is important (and retrofitting old ships) so your limited combat units go farther in battle. Bigger ships also use more units than smaller ships, so there are a lot of variables to play with when building your navy. The manual combat is pretty ghetto however (and by ghetto I mean oversimplified). Each combat is broken into 3 phases, each of which you can select an “ability” to use. These abilities will buff one aspect of your fleet, but detract from something else.
Endless Space also has hero units, which can be used to buff your fleets or entire systems. As your fleet (or system) accomplishes stuff, your hero will level up allowing you to increase his stats, or give him special abilities for combat or for system growth. All heroes come with 2 traits (but finding one with 2 fleet or 2 system traits seems to be rare indeed).
For anyone who doesn’t mind blowing a few hours (at least) on a single game, this is an awesome game…and the random elements ensure a unique game each time.