Space Empires V is the latest edition in the Space Empires series. This new chapter completely updates the UI and takes the player into a real-time rendered 3D universe. Watch space battles played out in glorious detail and realistic effects. Expand, Explore, Exploit, and Exterminate in a huge living breathing galaxy.
User reviews:
Overall:
Mixed (199 reviews) - 68% of the 199 user reviews for this game are positive.
Release Date: Oct 16, 2006

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About This Game

Space Empires V is the latest edition in the Space Empires series. This new chapter completely updates the UI and takes the player into a real-time rendered 3D universe. Watch space battles played out in glorious detail and realistic effects. Expand, Explore, Exploit, and Exterminate in a huge living breathing galaxy. New features abound with political alliances between multiple empires, a top-down ship design system, a hexagonal movement grid, and many more. Due to player demand, the game is completely 'moddable' and even adds a scriptable AI system to the mix. Space Empires V boldly takes the next step in the genre of space strategy
  • 24 bit 3D real-time rendered graphics.
  • Detailed Tactical Combat (and a combat simulator to test your designs!).
  • New vehicle types and sizes: Ships, Bases, Freighters, Fighters, Mines, Satellites, Troops, Drones, and Weapons Platforms.
  • Ability to completely design and customize all of your vehicles.
  • Large Galaxy: 100 solar systems with 15 planets each.
  • Huge Technology Tree: Thousands of tech levels with hundreds of components and facilities.
  • Completely customizable game graphics: Create your own planets, stars, vehicles, etc.
  • Completely customizable AI players: Create your own AI players with unique traits, styles, and speech.
  • 14 unique races to play or customize (or just create your own!)
  • Randomly generated map for every game (or load an existing map).
  • Complete game customization allowed by players ("mods").

System Requirements

    Minimum System Requirements: Pentium 500MHz or better class machine, Windows XP, 64 megabytes RAM or better, 1024x768 or better screen resolution, 16 bit color display or better, DirectX 7.0 (or better), A video card with 3D acceleration, 500 megs hard drive space, A sound card capable of supporting MP3 and DirectSound playback. Sound card must be DirectX 7.0 (or better) compatible.
Customer reviews
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Overall:
Mixed (199 reviews)
Recently Posted
Spam™
0.8 hrs on record
Posted: August 17
Good game a bit difficult
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stcrispin
0.1 hrs on record
Posted: July 9
Ive bought this game 3 times. Once on CD, and the dog chewed it up. Malfador Machinations told me go pound salt, they didnt care, and if I wanted to play the game to pay them MORE money and buy it again.

So I did. No clue where that CD went. So rather than listen to MM tell me to go pound salt again, I bought it on Steam.

Steam Version DOES NOT WORK.

MM apearantly has abandoned support for this and wont fix the Range Check DRM error. Nor will they release the source code to allow modders to fix the problem either. DONT WASTE YOUR MONEY ON THIS! Even though it was a fun game, IT DOESNT FUNCTION.
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K2D2
72.0 hrs on record
Posted: June 30
This was a great game for its time. That being said it's time is past.

SEV runs fine on windows xp and Vista if thats still ones native OS, but not in compatability mode for either Xp or Vista.

I had tons of fun playing this game way......way back in the early 2000's. It's not patched appropriately to run on a modern OS so I strongly recommend not buying it unless you have a NATIVE XP or Vista machine.

If you do, and SEV does not crap out on you anyway have fun! This game was poorly supported by the DEVs even when it was new or newer.

Definitely worth less than $2, untill its patched to run on a modern OS. Then maybe $5.
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[CUC] Funiculus
56.5 hrs on record
Posted: June 19
A fun, classic 4x experience. Customize your race, research tech, expand your empire, conquer the galaxy. Detailed ship design and a very large variety of unit types and roles add to the nuances of your empire building. The graphics are dated, but the underlying game is very solid. Well worth picking up for any fan of the genre or the franchise.
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SuitcaseWithSpikes
66.3 hrs on record
Posted: June 14
I had two Windows 10 machines run this game and at one turn they both crash. It was game breaking crash. I loved the game at first and hope they come out with another sequel. But I cant recommend this game to anyone because of the crashes. It might run better on Win 7 or earlier OS. In the mean time im playing another space 4x game.
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Chewie Louie
4.8 hrs on record
Posted: June 13
One of Distant Worlds' DNA parents. The other being Stars!. Both superb in their day. But DW (Universe) is still the King until Aurora 4X becomes something more than it is currently, whatever that's supposed to mean.

It's highly likely that this title will struggle on your modern M$ OS too.
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Johnny_west100
18.4 hrs on record
Posted: June 10
Cannot get it to activate? Have downloaded it and go to play and it seems to lock up. Maybe it does not work with windows 10?
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Dr. G.Rae
1.1 hrs on record
Posted: June 2
well, i cant say i enjoyed trying to figure my way through this one nor can i really recomend trying it yourself.
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runalotxo
206.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 28
A perspective of SEV I am using a 2011, I5 macbook pro with parallels and XPsp3. First, tech research is handled a little differently in SEV. If you favored SE 4’s R&D scheme it might take some getting used to Imho. When I first sparked up SEV my FPS would slow down and it would frustratingly hang up calculating round outcomes. However after loading the “Balance Mod v 120+ and “Dark Nova 5” frame rates have picked up on my macbook. The new R&D system and empire automation options are growing on me. In summary, I recommend this game if you don’t mind a little learning curve the game is very customizable with lots of dept …just one more turn is the chant... trust me!
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Rockatansky
12.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
A near perfect 4x game. Ship designs, upgrades, rich research tree. Diplomacy lacks a bit of depth and it feels like the computer cheats a bit. You can automate many tasks by usung governor AI script, and focus on different aspect of the game. Custom creation of in game races with unique perks and abilities.
Ultimate tech in Ringworld and Sphere construction. Deffinitely worth a try.

My score 8/10

PS. If you like, there are several mods to increase complexity, difficulty and overal playability.
I use Captain Kwok's SE mod.
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Most Helpful Reviews  Overall
97 of 102 people (95%) found this review helpful
Recommended
64.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 27, 2013
Space Empires V, like its predecessor, is a brilliant turn-based strategy game. Research is deep and complex. The AI, with mods, runs well. Ship design has interesting nuances and micromanagement isn't overwhelming even in the late game. Diplomacy is good enough and resource management isn't that easy but isn't overly complex, either. The modding community has created some absolute masterpieces for this game, as well.

Of course, then, there must be a caveat. SE:V is one of the buggiest games to exist in recent memory. It was designed to run with DX7.1 and DX8 on Windows XP machines. As technology marches ever onwards, getting SE:V to actually install and work even remotely properly has been a source of constant headaches. Provided you're willing to go through the slog of troubleshooting cryptic error messages, forum heresay, and troubleshooting myths from people who are taking potshots in the dark, SE:V is a game that I wholeheartedly recommend. Otherwise, stay away.
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80 of 83 people (96%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
410.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 4, 2013
Space Empires V is an unpollished diamond. You just know that if it had a reasonable length of time in development to remove all the bugs and add a proper multiplayer experience, then it would have been unsurpassed in the 4X genre. What saved this game in my view is just how easy it is to mod. All parameters are contained in .txt files so you can alter anything. Adding mods is incredibly simple(no installers, just download mod folder into a folder in the game). Personally I play with the balance mod(makes intelligence probability based, balances the game, makes AI terrifying) and have tweaked things like the battle timer for ground battles.

I guess I will begin with the really bad things in the game:

-Bugs: At this point many of the bugs that made the game unplayable were removed over a period 3 years after release but many remain. Issues with coding cause intense lag during big battles and, in my case, for every single ground battle. The alliance system just doesn't work which is a giant shame as it had huge potential

-AI: The AI in the normal game is simply terrible although this issue is fixed with the mods. The AI will create big fleets to kill you, lay mines in strategic areas and alter its designs to counter yours. It can be terrifying at times.

-Multiplayer: Multiplayer has never worked properly in this series. Everything is done through a play by web system using simultaneous turns and removing tactical combat. Connecting is difficult and just feels underdeveloped and old. It was so much easier to play a multiplayer game of Master of Orion 2 on Hamachi than playing this.

-The UI: It is difficult to know what to do and it put me off when I first started the game. It takes a long time getting used to and even if you know all the hotkeys and how to access what you want to know, it still takes ages. My biggest gripe is trying to know which ships still haven't moved as the game doesn't filter out fast units in a fleet when you push space.

-Ground combat: It is just not any good. You don't have to think about tactics at all unlike space battles. All you do is sit and watch cockroaches kill one another. Fighters are also a must as the ai will automatically start running away to the edge of the map once it is being beaten and this is very frustrating. Your guys are so slow that they probably wont reach them before the timer runs out. At that point combat ends until the next turn where a new militia will pop up from the city. For this reason I doubled the timer for ground combat.

-Late game slowness: This is typical of the genre where micromanaging increases exponentially as the game progresses and you get more plantes & units. Ministers which control your units for you and can be assigned very specific tasks get rid of the need to micromanage so much but an issue remains. Unlike civ v, all the units with assigned commands do not automatically move at the end of the turn. They instead move one by one at the start of the next. Late game it means that I have to sit and watch the game play itself for 5 minutes or so.


Now for the good:

-Scope: The size of this game is just incredible. A single match on a small map will take weeks and have you go from a newborn space race to god like beings which are able to do anything to star systems. You can blow up enemy planets and mine the remains or use them to create new ones. Destroy stars, create new ones, alter the very map by manipulating wormholes and create dyson spheres.

-Tech tree: The tech tree is enormous. There are dozens upon dozens of areas of research, each exponentially increasing the possibilities available. Each new tech can also be upgraded multiple times improving the same designs and many techs can be combined to make fun new strategies. I personally love researching boarding parties, tractor beams and cloacking. Then making a ship to secretly attack support units and take them over. You can make warheads and place them on ships to ram bigger ships or place them on drones and swarm a planet. Getting far into the research tree, making a deathstar, fitting it with a wave motion gun and sending it out to wreak havock is immensely satisfying. There are also specific techs that you get from colonizing ancient planets and race specific ones like organic manipulation or temporal manipulation.

-Diplomacy: I really hate the lack of diplomatic options you get in other games as they are very basic. Here you can set any term that you could possibly imagine. You can set how much each race will passively trade, can make treaties banning research of certain techs, you can prevent an ally from even doing any research, set whether or not there will be migration between the two races, impose tarrifs on the trade, share medical or resupply depots, ANYTHING!!!. I absolutely love it. You can even trade information on enemy ship designs and battle replay to help allies prepare.

-Intelligence: Espionage is another thing lacking in most game as they tend to simply give you random benefits. Here you can specify what kind of espionage activities you want to conduct or whether you want to carry out sabotages. It is quite feasible to use intelligence to cripple a planet before sending a fleet to attack.

-Customization: When you start the game, you can customize everything about your race. What kind of race are they? What type of planet do they inhabit? What atmosphere do they breathe? What type of culture do they have? All these things will have an impact on how you play and the customization extends throughout the game. Every ship you make is designed by you individually by adding components to preset sizes and dictating their strategy. The game even gives you a simulator to try out new designs. This works really well in my opinion. It is a lot of fun to get new ship designs from an ally who was just beaten by a new enemy and then altering your design using the simulator to check how well they will fare against the enemy. The simulator really does add a new level of gameplay that puts enphasis on tactics and good designs to prepare agaomst threats. It also makes good intelligence even more important.

-Space battles: Another great thing in this game. Battles can be massive in size and all play out in real time. Ships in fleets will fly in formation and battle using strategies set out by you before hand(you can also manually control them in tactical view). Damaged ships will fly slower and have damaged weapons, missiles will fly out and point defence turrets will attempt to shoot them down before they get too close. There is a surprising level of depth to the battles which are decided mostly on how well you prepared for them.

This is a game really worth buying for people who enjoy the genre although expect some hippucs. If you have a friend of a brother to play hotseat while you work then all the better.
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39 of 40 people (98%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
Recommended
21.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 12, 2015
I bought this game just to leave this review. I may not have much on Steam, at the post of this review. However I have a CD copy and I have spent at least 7000 hours in this over the span of 8 years.

There has never been a game to match this one's scale. It does have a steep learning curve, however it's completely rewarding once you master the games interface.

Here is a guide listed to get the game to run on modern Windows. http://steamcommunity.com//app/1690/discussions/0/846947320625372516/

Also, one should also pick up Balance Mod. For better AI, and well. Balance to the game.

There are other reviews that are much better, with a much better description than this one. However this game is amazing in scope.
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34 of 35 people (97%) found this review helpful
Recommended
333.4 hrs on record
Posted: December 2, 2013
This is likely the best space 4x game out there. It's a shame it hasn't gotten more support, because you occasionally encounter some frustrating bugs and oversights (like if a planet with multiple populations rebels against you, it forms a new race with stats identical to your base race, and erases all other sentient species from the planet).
It gives you what you want. Ship design, the ability to make your own society, lots of interesting research, good espionage, an organized and customizable interface, and cool battles (with lots of tactical options, even if missiles+outrunning the enemy seems a bit overpowered).
The diplomacy can be frustrating, due to there being a turn delay and also you not knowing what conditions the AI wants. So anything more complicated than an open borders treaty might be impossible to implement.

I strongly recommend getting Captain Kwok's balance mod. This will make the AI more intelligent and challenging, as well as give you a chance to engage in more fleet actions.
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30 of 30 people (100%) found this review helpful
Recommended
24.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 28, 2014
This is a good old turn based 4X. You design your empire and then try to conquer a galaxy (or win through diplomacy/culture; if you're of that persuasion...) Lots of tech development, and ship design. Gameplay is quite excellent in terms of grand strategy, with customisable interfaces and various options for automation (ai ‘governor’ control etc), but I was not hugely impressed with the controls and scripts for tactical combat; it leaves some features to be desired. There may be some mods available which could improve this aspect of the game. Overall, quite a fun and interesting game, I find the dynamics of the gameplay and strategies to be thought provoking. It offers opportunities for a slightly deeper level of interaction than many other 4X games. This is not a game for players who like fast paced, easy to understand gameplay: it takes time, practice and conceit to develop one’s own personal strategy (of which there are many possibilities).
I usually play this game with the Crimson Concept mod, which can be found (free) here: www.spaceempires.net/downloads-details-922-Crimson_Concept_Mod_v9.0.html#dldetails
I've tried the game without this mod, it was not as interesting...

Lots of people on Steam have commented on it lagging/being unplayable: i noticed that the game lags if the resolution colour bit setting is high; i switched it from x32 to x16 and it runs better now. I guess the graphics in this game are not designed for modern hardware etc.

If you have the game: check out www.spaceempires.net there is a community of players and developers, and a massive library of mods and other content to explore.
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28 of 29 people (97%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
Recommended
182.0 hrs on record
Posted: November 20, 2015
Pros
- The game has an incredible number of customization options and offers a wealth of variety in viable strategies, particularly if you're using the balance mod practically everybody seems to be using. You can manage fine details of your empire's war machine that most games would abstract, and the game is clearly aimed at people who get giddy at the prospect of developing and testing warships to maintain an edge over current and prospective enemies.
- Despite the dated graphics and sound design, fleet battles manage to be enjoyable, and I've killed hours just messing with designs and testing them in the simulator. The weapons have a good amount of variety in their look and feel, and the encouragement toward mixing specialist designs in a fleet means that the enemy's fleet composition can significantly affect your tactics in the field.
- The AI will happily sign my Treaty of Imminent Backstabbing and praise me as a peacemaker, because the AI cannot comprehend the English language (I guess that's kind of a con, but I've never seen a game with AI that could deduce when it was being threatened or insulted through a text prompt, so I'm just happy for the source of amusement).

Cons
- You're not really given a choice in terms of how much detail you want. You're going to engage with all the detail, or you're going to lose. The learning curve can be very steep, and the UI is not friendly to new players. Forget not holding your hand; SE5 is pushing you down in the street over and over and laughing at you while you try to cross. Enjoy giving orders tediously one at a time across your huge empire until you figure out queues, because the game isn't going to nudge you in that direction one bit.
- The balance mod is almost necessary, because the base game doesn't feel like it was balance-tested sufficiently, and the built-in AI is pretty much useless. Even with the balance mod, the AI doesn't have a good chance against a player with at least a decent understanding of the system, which only makes the transition from single-player to multi-player less comfortable, because if you're used to fighting the AI, human players will kill you before you even figure out how they built so fast (it's spaceyard rushing and their management of that emergency build thing the game never hints at the importance of).
- There is only war. That depth I mentioned earlier doesn't extend to politics, economics, or anything else like that. Your empire is a machine to kill other empires, and everything else just kind of feels bolted-on. If you don't enjoy designing ships to patrol spacelanes, or you get bored of it, there's not much to fall back on. You can win through diplomacy, but it's far too easy to be any fun.

Bottom Line
If you're looking for a combat-focused space 4x that's so deep it hurts, SE5 is one of the best I've played. You definitely want the balance mod, though.
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30 of 36 people (83%) found this review helpful
Recommended
222.6 hrs on record
Posted: December 13, 2013
This game is incredibly complex -- in a good way, except for the fact that its just too complex for the AI to get a decent grasp on. It's also made to be modded, and frankly, is really best played with the "Balance Mod", which basically turns it into a game of Space Empires IV, with cooler graphics. The default game is unbalanced to the point of being effectively broken -- find, and install the Balance Mod, if you get the game.

Due to the complexity of the game, single player is kind of easy, unless you give the AI outrageous bonuses to production, etc. The AI just can't manage the game as well as a player can (although the Balance Mod AI is certainly superior the the default AI).

Multiplayer, via PBEM, is the ultimate MP space conquest experience. I'm not kidding. There is NO equal. I have played just about every space conquest game in existance, and NOTHING beats SE4/SE5 when it comes to mutliplayer. I say Play-by-Email (or cloud drive, these days, is an amazing option), because you want people to spend 15-30min on their turn, and run the turns simultaneously, to really get the best experience.

Space Empires is, and always has been, the computer equivalent of a board game called "Starfire: Empires" (or "Starfire: New Empires", for the second edition). This game was/is outstanding, if you're into epic galactic conquest with your friends. Space Empires IV/V do not disappoint, if you are willing to muscle through the poor UI design issues that give the game its steep learning curve. The fleet AI interface is particularly well hidden, and tough to grasp, but the nuances of the game, particularly of the tech tree, are unending -- and worth the time.
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21 of 21 people (100%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Recommended
40.2 hrs on record
Posted: June 21, 2015
Great game! It is practically identical to space empire 4 but with better graphics!

The good:
- Same amount and same teks as in space empire 4, which mean an enormous amount of tek to research
- Graphics of solar system and ships is good but starting to get dated. This is a game from 2008 still.
- Strategy can go pretty deep in this game
- Ships and bases and satellites and weapons platforms and even troops can be customised to your heart content. Eventually, you can even build Ring worlds and mega huge sphere worlds if you research far enough. Destroy and create black holes, destroy and create warp points and the like!
- If you like space empire 4, you will love this game since it's so similar
- It can be modded to your heart content. There are quite a few mods out there. Better to install the Balance mod straight from the get go to get better ai opponents and better structured research too.
- Music and sound are pretty good and never tiresome. Space Opera like star trek.

The bad:
- The single guy who did all the space empire games sold the game and its right to make space empire games to another company. And he doesn't work for them either. They never did any dev on the game or any patch after it was sold. I don't even understand what they intended to do with this game after paying money for it.
- The game is stable, but it looks a bit unpolished and unfinished in some area
- The game was developped for Windows XP directX only. It doesn't work fullscreen in Vista or Windoze 7 & later. You can play it in windowed 1024x768 with no problems, but its small for nowaday. The performance of the game is abysmal with lots of lag if you manage to put it in fullscreen.
- The ai in the base game is terribad. No challenge even at highest difficulty. Install the balance mod to correct that problem.
- The scale of the research is a bit too much. You can research 100 levels in one research. So there is no point in changing your type of weapons from the starting tek you have if you invested millions of points of research into it, it's going to be so strong that no amount of new weapon ability is going to top it. For example, the starting laser can go from 5 damage at lvl1 to 500 damage at lvl 100. The balance mod adresses this specifically which is good!
- Very addictive game. You can't stop yourself from playing just another turn and look its now 3 am in the morning and you got to go to work in a few hours! yipeeeeee!
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21 of 23 people (91%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
Not Recommended
2.1 hrs on record
Posted: December 3, 2015
Finetuning required!

This game is setting one more step above the Space Empires IV game. Also the graphics got updated, the sound isn't so enervating as in Space Empires IV.

The game would be a nice addition to any library, if, yes if there weren't some issues. The game requires a lot of manual finetuning by the player, to get it run smoothly on any system with a modern OS. Fullscreen is, well, not implemented for those resolutions too. All this would be suferable, and bearable...

But there is more, it's even more complex than it's predecessor and for someone who is new to the 4X Space Conquest genre it might be too much.

Pros:
  • Updated Graphics and sound compared to Space Empires IV.
  • A lot of self customization, you can download so much stuff - even fanbased patches, to give it a more fluid run on modern machines.

Cons:
  • Buggy, it might crash on modern OS if not finetuned by the user. Lags would also be possible, and hanging up during calculating the outcome of a round.
  • The game can overwhelm a newbie with all those windows, informations and options, please read and tread carefully.
  • Sadly, not supported anymore officially.

Recommended only to a limited audience.

This game is for empire builders, to all others the game won't open it's charm. It will get boring after playing some rounds and not seeing anything fruitful comming out of it.

I can't and I won't recommendate this game to a broad audience, because it's harder than it seems. But once you get the run of the game, you'll find it quite easy.

Furthermore there is a lot of finetuning to be done to get the game run smoothly - which will possibly frustrate younger or more impatient players, there is a lot to do for this.

The game is not bad, per se - it's among my alltime favorites, since it offers so much possibilities - but, as I said, to a broad audience this game can't be recommended, not now, not even back when it was created.
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18 of 19 people (95%) found this review helpful
Recommended
289.2 hrs on record
Posted: October 7, 2014
Can't reccomend highly enough. Once you get past learning how to use the UI and some of the more subtle features, it's a great strategy game. Whilst fairly unbalanced, it allows for a lot of customisation, which in turn leads to an almost RPG like element of deciding what kind of society you'll be, what kind of technology you'll discover and what kind of ships you'll build.

The tech tree is not as linear as something like Civ V or Gal Civ II and has a lot more in terms of options, but it's not as smooth a game to run, or optimised for multiplayer; turns on hotseat take a while to load, but it's a lot of fun to play with a friend. Seeing as one of the only things holding this back is it's optimisation and the fact it's old, I can't help but feel a space empires VI would be as groundbreaking as Civ or maybe even AoE II.
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