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Galactic Civilizations II - opinions?

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I'm in the mood for something strategical, and something that isn't Civ. Has anyone tried Galactic Civilizations II and has an opinion on it?

Name Lips:
It's been dominating my gaming for about 2 weeks now.

The biggest obsticle you'll face is the learning curve. The manual is inadiquate, and the in-game tutorial is terrible (just a sequence of movies).

There's no multiplayer, if that matters to you. (I read a justification for why not on their boards. Mostly it's because, typically, multiplayer consumes a tremendous wedge of the budget, and is only used by about 5% of the buyers).

I highly recommend the game.

Features include:

An extensive tech tree with niche technologies that can be researched independently of all others. For example, you could focus entirely on diplomacy and never touch a weapon tech, or focus on warfare and totally ignore trade and diplomacy. You can specialize in engine techs, or sensors, or just generalize and have a well-rounded civ that doesn't excel anywhere. I like this because it really lets you focus on your strengths, if you want. A civ with research and economics bonuses can really capitalize on the research and economics tech trees, and become a real powerhouse in those areas.

The second feature I'm just in love with is ship design. From a few basic hulls, you can design whatever ships you want. You can stick extra engines on them for speed, or focus on life support modules for range. You can make a slow, clunky ship loaded with weapons, or super-fast colony ships. There aren't many pre-made ship designs because there's no way to know what techs you'll have. So you really have to mold your fleet personally around what techs you've discovered. Also, there is a whole mess of purely decorative pieces you can slap on the ship to customize its appearance. Some people on the GalCiv forums have gone way overboard, sculpting huge battlemech-shaped ships or equally complex designs, just for the hell of it.

I could go on, and probably will if you ask any questions.  :p Just about the only thing I wish was there that isn't there is a 3d-galaxy map, with a Z-axis. But I don't think they want to confuse people too much - most people think in 2-d much easier than 3-d.

Berger King:
I honestly didn't get into it. I know a lot of people really like it, and it is very polished and it seems like I should like it...but I don't. It just doesn't grab me like Civ IV does. Now I'm holding out for Space Empires V this summer. I liked SEIV and I didn't like GalCiv I, so maybe I'm more of a Space Empires kinda guy.

Name Lips:
It's a particular style of play. I couldn't get into Civ4, for instance, even after having my life dominated by Civ3 for several months back when it came out.

I like the nitty-gritty of running an economy. I like handling the fact that, if you have a massive fleet, its' time consuming and expensive to try to keep it up-to-date with the latest technologies. Often you'll have a few "prototype" ships with the latest techs supporting your old, grizzled, veteran (but outdated) fleets.

I like the various ways to win the game. I hate games that make you conquer, and in Galciv, it's totally viable to win the game playing as a commercial powerhouse, or an arms dealer. I like that flexibility of playing styles.

Highly recommend it, and if Oblivion wasn't consuming all my free time then this game would be, plus the support from Stardock is mindblowing, have a look what they've done for the latest upgrade

Would post the changes, but it runs to nearly 5 pages, but the AI apparently is truly awesome now, including how it gangs up with you to take out other computer players and how it scales with difficulty.

Best £18 ever spent.


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