At this time I cannot in good conscience recommend this game to anyone except the most die-hard space 4x fans. I want to love the game. I really do. I've played it a lot but most of my time has been bug-fixing. Fixing typos, errors, and what can only be described as sloppiness. It feels like I'm beta-testing a game and trying to patch the game myself. I've tried to push through this, but even ignoring all of the bugs and crashes gameplay itself is shallow. Civ5 has much deeper gameplay. GalCiv3's gameplay is just so simple. When you get down to it, past all of the glitter, it feels almost like a mobile game. There just isn't a lot of depth to the game.
If you are a die-hard 4x fan and can't get enough turn based space games, then go for it.
The rest of you? Stay far, far away. GalCiv3 in its current state is a bug riddled, bloated, crashy, unstable mess. Expect your game to crash to desktop without any warning or error messages. Fortunately it has autosave, but there are so many stability problems that you're going to need those autosaves.
To start with, the positives. The game is gorgeous. It looks so very pretty. The ship designer is amazing. You can design almost any ship you want, anything from an Imperial Star Destroyer to one of Starfleet's finest. The level of customization is immense. The game is also very easy to mod as it is based on xml files, so tinkering is easy. All you need is notepad.
Unfortunately I've now finished the list of positive aspects of the game.
The game is riddled with typos, both spelling errors visible in the game as well as typos in the xml files that run the game behind the scenes. Research buildings are flagged as factories. Ship blueprints are poorly written, so that ships will be built with the wrong ship modules or missing vital ship modules entirely. This also leads to a very poorly performing AI because it is stuck with the stock ships. You can design your own ships, and by designing a well balanced ship you will be able to smash the AI.
To make up for this, at high difficulty levels the AI blatantly cheats. This game doesn't have an advanced AI. Its only made challenging by cheating. The AI ignores fog of war. It gets free production, free money, and free science. Its ships get more range and can install more modules than you. It also outright gets free technology every few turns. It needs all of these things to keep pace with a human player, and even then, the AI isn't much of a challenge except for sheer brute force due to cheating.
The AI isn't clever. It appears to pick a random planet to attack. It builds lots of ships and keeps flying it at that planet until it gets lucky. Unfortunately the AI forgets to build any transports on a regular basis, so it has trouble actually capturing planets. Diplomacy with the AI is very limited. You can trade things with the AI and you can declare war/peace with the AI. Thats about it. Want to get one AI to form an alliance with another AI? Can't do it. You can ally with everyone but you cannot broker peace in the galaxy. The AI's diplomacy is also mostly based on power. Do you have the most ships? Everyone loves you. Do you have the weakest fleet out of everyone? Everyone hates you and will declare war on you. Thats about as fancy as the AI gets.
The game is immensely bloated. 6gb of RAM isn't recommended. 6gb of RAM is barely the minimum. The game can use upwards of 5gb of RAM just by itself. Windows is going go use anywhere from 2-3gb of RAM. You need at least 6gb of RAM free. Not installed, but free/unused RAM. So you're looking at 10-12 of installed RAM to properly play this game.
In terms of visuals the game sure is pretty, but its pretty on par with Civ5. Its a turn based strategy game. However the memory usage far exceeds that of Civ5. Your computer may be able to play Civ5 without a hitch, but its going to crawl on GalCiv3. For some reason the game uses vast amounts of system resources (mostly memory) but it doesn't use them efficiently in an way. Expect your page file to get a lot of work. Your virtual memory is just a swap file on your hard drive. This file is going to get a ton of usage due to the memory requirements for this game. Hard drives are very slow things and virtual memory is to be avoided at all costs due to its terrible performance. Well, for GalCiv3, thats just what happens. Expect to chug along, especially if you're trying to play on a bigger map.
Management of your empire in game is also a chore. It chugs along. There is zero macro-management and zero automation. You have to micromanage every single planet, starbase, fleet, and ship in your empire every turn. On a tiny map its tolerable, but on big maps? Its micro management hell. And its not the fun kind of micro management. Its pure busywork. Its pure tedium. Starbases are particularly bad. They require a staggering degree of babysitting. Even planets, if you have a lot of them, get bad. There is no way to automate any planets in your empire. On a big map you might have dozens or potentially even hundreds of planets on the biggest map size. Every single planet must be manually ordered to do everything. Its just not fun. It is absolutely tedious.
That said, negatives aside, the game has a lot of potential, but it feels like I'm playing an early beta build. Its just so rough. The game feels so unfinished. This game is not ready for release yet. Not even close. This is not a finished product nor should it be advertised as one. It hasn't even been optimized yet. It is a bloated, buggy, incomplete mess, but at the same time it is a gem in the rough.
Unfortunately gems in the rough aren't worth much. They need to be polished first. GalCiv3 is lacking any and all polish. For comparison, I'd say that Dwarf Fortress has fewer bugs and is more stable than GalCiv3. Dwarf Fortress feels more polished than GalCiv3.
Thats right. You heard me right.Dwarf Fortress
is a more polished, stable, and bug-free game than GalCiv3.
So if you're a die hard 4x fan and want another 4x game regardless of how unfinished it is, by all means, pick up GalCiv3. Just be prepared to forgive a lot of problems with the game. You're going to have to overlook a lot of issues with the game.