Unlimited: Divided Galaxies
by Just Play/Matrix Games
Developed by Apezone
Platform: PC CD-ROM
Released - Out Now
Price : £24.99
don't always get what you expect do you? With Master of Orion 2
being such a good game the anticipation for number 3 in the series
was sky high. What happened? To be completely honest it was one
of the biggest disappointments, in the strategy game genre, of all
time. The game looked OK but unfortunately it felt like you were
doing nothing and that the game was playing itself. Those of you
who were expecting a title that was equally as good as Master of
Orion 2 would have been severely disappointed. However you might
want to take a look at Starships Unlimited: Divided Galaxies.
Unlimited began life as a shareware product. Since then the game
has undergone a few revisions with improvements being made to the
game all the time. As a result the product we are reviewing today
has had many of it's gameplay elements finely tuned and it shows.
Starships Unlimited was created and developed exclusively by Andrew
Ewanchyna. Andrew, on his own, has managed to create a title that
is far more enjoyable than Master of Orion and although it might
not have the graphical niceties of a lot of today's titles it has
that all important addictive gameplay that keeps you playing long
after you should have been in bed.
you've played any of the Master of Orion games (or Star Trek: Birth
of the Federation) you'll have a pretty good idea of what Starships
Unlimited is about. For those that haven't played any one of these
titles though we'll attempt to give a brief summary of the gameplay.
Starships Unlimited is a 4X game (eXplore, eXploit, eXpand, eXterminate).
The game is a mix of real-time and turn based action. For the most
part the game runs in real-time but when decisions need to be made
the game will pause whereas when you are caught up in battle the
game transforms into turn-based action. At the beginning of the
game you choose which race you wish to participate as. There are
10 available races including the Terrans (Humans), Mirrshi and Gimpati
to name but three. You can have upto 7 rivals in any game but you
don't have to play with this many and you can play with as little
as 2 opponents if you wish. You also get to set such parameters
as the shape of the galaxy, the amount of stars in the galaxy (from
50, short game, to 150, which could take a couple of weeks), the
starting technological age, the style of your space crafts etc.
You also get to choose between three difficulty levels: beginner,
intermediate and advanced and you can also give yourself, or the
AI opponents, advantages, which can also adjust the difficulty of
the game is underway you'll begin in the Sol system and you'll have
to make a choice of what to research. The game has four technological
ages. These are the Atomic Age, Fusion Age, Anti-matter Age and
the Singularity Age. To progress from one to the other you'll have
to obtain wisdom artefacts and have fifteen technologies from your
current age. You obtain new artefacts from exploring new planets.
Before you can obtain the artefact though you'll have to defeat
the planets guardian which isn't always easy. You can choose whatever
you wish to research but you must bear in mind that if you elect
to build something, a space craft for instance, then research will
be suspended. Of course once you control other planets and systems
you can set the one to research and the other to build.
game has quite an impressive diplomatic model in place. As per usual
in games of this nature you have to earn trust with your prospective
ally. The game allows you to trade between races and also send gifts
that will help the smoothing of relationships. As relations improve
you'll be able to form an alliance and even a federation (where
all the allies resources become your own). In a rather novel twist
though you can only have one ally at a time. This prevents the game
from being one big stand-off between a few major forces and keeps
the game open. The idea of the game is to conquer the galaxy and
it wouldn't be much fun if stalemates could occur. Each of the games
races has one out of a possible two philosophies. These philosophies
are know as Big Endian and Little Endian. Those with the same philosophy
as your race are more likely to become your allies as relations
begin with you having a 50% trust rating. That said though with
some well placed influence (such as causing unrest) it is also possible
to become allies with a race of the opposite philosophy by subversion,
peace is always welcome, soon enough you'll be involved in a battle.
At the beginning of the game you'll have to deal with the artefact
guardians and eventually you'll come up against rival races or pirates.
For battles the game switches over to turn-based mode. During a
battle you'll get the chance to choose from your available weapon
systems, choose your target, pick manoeuvres and even quit the battle.
Your space craft will gain experience from battles they take part
in so it's even possible that your lowly scout ships can even cause
more powerful enemies a problem should they have the greater experience.
Damage to your space craft is shown numerically, via floating text,
and placing your mouse pointer over your craft will show you the
condition of your craft (in the lower right of the screen) so that
you can assess whether it would be prudent to pull your space craft
out of the battle.
only major disappointment with Starships Unlimited is that it doesn't
have a multiplayer mode. Whilst the single player game is thoroughly
engaging there will come a time when you are not challenged by the
AI and want to take on your friends and other gamers over the Internet.
That's not to say that the single player game is short lived. In
fact it has all the replay value of games such as Civilization III
etc. Creating a game with a 150 star galaxy is going to take a mammoth
50+ hours to complete so as you can see it's certainly going to
keep you busy for a heck of a long time.
candy enthusiasts aren't going to be impressed by Starships Unlimited.
The graphics are simple and whilst they would have sufficed around
5 years ago, today they look a little out of date. Fortunately strategy
genre gamers (especially the turn-based strategy sub-genre gamers)
are more forgiving of the quality of the graphics if the gameplay
is fully intact, so fairly low quality graphics aren't really an
Unlimited is fine for deaf gamers. All information is given in text
so nothing is hidden from a deaf gamer. The game's printed manual
is quite decent and explains the basics. There is also an electronic
(acrobat) manual that explains the gameplay in a little more depth.
To be perfectly honest there won't be too much need for the manuals
as the game does a wonderful job of explaining the game as you play
and all tips and information are given in text. The game pauses
so that you can read this text in your own time.
Unlimited: Divided Galaxies is one of those games where it pays
to take little notice of the screenshots. It might look out of date,
to a certain extent, but it's the gameplay that really shines. Given
a straight choice between this and Master of Orion 3 there would
be no hesitation, it would have to be Starships Unlimited. The gameplay
is more involving, more enjoyable and plays very well indeed. The
lack of multiplayer is a disappointment but as a single player game
it is certainly well worth it.
Game Rating: 8.2/10
Master of Orion 3. If you want an enjoyable sci-fi based, 4X strategy
game then Starships Unlimited fits the bill nicely.
No problems at all. All information is given in text.