I was pretty excited to see Space Empires 5 here after I got SE4 from sale on gog.com - But I was utterly and completely disappointed with this game. The new resolution messed up the UI badly and the icons that were previously very visible are now very hard to make out. Even if you get used to it, you'll find out that the game is in that regard fundamentally the same as the previous part and loads of the new stuff I've seen is largely superficial or outright stupid.
-Parts placement: In SE4, you just added components to the ships, here you have a 2D-View of your ship with lots of slots to put your parts on. It's utterly redundant though, as the placement doesn't seem to do anything (surround your crew quaters with engines? why not!) Additionally, there are three decks for these slots and the new view makes it hard to see what you got on your ship already.
-Race Creation: They put in new options for race creation. Mostly, it's cosmetic and allows you to e.g. describe the physical make-up of your species and can choose the ship designs independently from each other (unlike SE4). The new social structure your empire has ultimately added just a little bonus to various aspect. Instead of making each government unique and stuff, you just have a sliding scale of peaceful/research bonuses vs. war/combat bonuses (for some reason Anarchy is on the far end of peaceful gameplay and Hivemind is for aggressive play, everything in the middle is when you are indifferent). Oh and you can of course give your leader the title "Grand Emperor Führer Overlord" if you are in a peaceful democracy, because that totally makes sense and all.
-Research: Oh god. In SE4, you just picked all areas in which you research and then the game allocated all your research points automagically. Either split evenly or one after another. The new system requires you to allocate the points with sliders which is incredibly cumbersome and you can't just enter the amount you want with a keyboard either. The option to automatically (re)allocate points is missing entirely. This is furthermore worsened by the fact that the Research tree was broadened to include stuff that no player would ever research unless he knew the techtree. I mean if you research Energy Beam Weapons, you know you can laz0r your enemies harder afterwards. But please tell me why you would research Ethics in a game like that? Would you have known that it protects you from espionage actions? Also, gaining new ship hulls is now a crawl, while you could get the base ships (Death Star-Sized warships) within 7 research steps in SE4, you now need five times as much, because each shiphull size is now it's own research field.
I could elaborate on every aspect this game has to offer now, but given the amount of content it predessor already had, this could probably fill a book.
What I noticed about this game is that loading between turns and other stuff (e.g. generating the maps) is much longer and low-end machines might perform rather slow, a problem SEIV doesn't have.
Ultimately, if you like 4x Strategy games and this game seems really interesting to you, get SE4. There is no reason to choose this game over the prequel.
Posted: February 27th, 2014