Everyone worth their salt knows that in the space-heavy 4x games the titles Masters of Orion 1 and 2 are a fundamental part of the genre's the foundation. Galactic Civilizations II manages to continue on those footsteps with it's own twist.
I remember playing this one back in the days, a lot. The hours I have on this title here in Steam aren't actually truthful in that regard. However just recently I started playing GalCiv II again, and it still hooks me in like a happy salmon. Even after all these years the graphics are still "ok", as at least I didn't feel distracted by it from the gameplay. And oh boy what gameplay it is.
It's your basic space empire simulator with managing colonies, building space stations, trading and diplomacy with other empires, building fleets of spaceships and watching them explode in hails of über-deadly weapons fire of the future. There are a lot of little twists around this main concept though. You can design your own ships, not just the loadouts but also their outlook to a surprisingly great detail. The technology tree and decisions you take incorporates some rudimentary ethics, and you can steer your empire towards good, neutrality or evil and receive technological advances accordingly.
There's a storyline campaign which I haven't managed to ever finish, I guess it's a nice attempt of creating content. However free-for-all type random play is what this game excels in my opinion.
There have been quite a few mentions of bugs and crashes in the reviews, but I haven't noticed any such behavior except when alt-tabbing to windows from the game.
A minor point is also that you will need to register your game at some Stardock service - give them your email address and game key - to be able to play the game. I know this can upset some potential players, and I agree it's a stupid remant of ages past. However at least for myself the registration process took less than a minute and I've never received a singly spam message from Stardock.
All in all, well worth it if you're into the 4x genre and can see past the slightly dated graphics and UI.