Galactic Civilizations III is the largest strategy sandbox ever made. Start with a single world and expand across the galaxy through diplomacy, trade, cultural hegemony or military conquest in this single-player or multiplayer 4X strategy game. How will you rule your galaxy?
User reviews: Mostly Positive (1,151 reviews)
Release Date: May 14, 2015

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Recommended By Curators

"More of a refresh than expected, but still hands down the best modern way to conquer unknown space."
Read the full review here.

Recent updates View all (39)

May 27

Galactic Civilizations III v1.02 Opt-in Available

The second patch for Galactic Civilizations III is now available as an opt-in. This patch adjusts the balance, improves AI priorities, fixes bugs, updates the UI, and speeds up performance.

Read the full patch notes here:

To opt into the patch, do the following:

  1. Open your Steam client
  2. Right-click Galactic Civilizations III, select Properties
  3. Select the Betas tab
  4. In the drop-down menu, choose “Opt-in”
  5. Close the properties window
  6. Your game should patch automatically
Thanks for your support, and happy conquering!

3 comments Read more

May 21

Galactic Civilizations III v1.01 Available

The first post-launch patch for Galactic Civilizations III is live, bringing custom faction support to multiplayer, adding several Steam achievements, and fixing high-priority bugs.

The upcoming 1.1 patch, due out in the coming weeks, will add Steam Workshop support among other things.

Read the full patch notes here:

Thanks for your support, and happy conquering!

13 comments Read more

Reviews

“The new gold standard in 4X space strategy”
9/10 – GameWatcher

“Such a wealth of victory conditions and customization options that the experience feels new with every playthrough.”
8.6/10 – IGN

“A mix of familiar mechanics and new ideas that can keep both fans and newcomers occupied for a frighteningly long period of time.”
9/10 – Softpedia

Design your own ships!

About This Game

Galactic Civilizations III is the largest strategy sandbox ever made. Start with a single world and expand across the galaxy through diplomacy, trade, cultural hegemony or military conquest in this single-player or multiplayer 4X strategy game. How will you rule your galaxy?

CORE FEATURES:

  • Never the same game twice: Play in the ultimate sandbox where each game has a unique map, unique worlds and new challenges to face.
  • Multiple paths to victory: Win through military conquest, cultural domination, technological ascension or political alliance.
  • Story-based campaign: Galactic Civilizations III includes a campaign that brings players up to date on the 20-year story arc behind the rise of humanity in the 23rd century.
  • Massive technology tree: Research a technology tree with immense breadth and depth. Player choices determine the capabilities of their civilization.
  • Custom ship design: Players have total control over how their starships function as well as how they look. Any ship you’ve ever imagined can be created or downloaded.

NEW TO GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS III:

  • Massive scale: The new, 64-bit, multi-core engine increases the number of possible opponents from 16 to 128 with a similar explosion in maximum map sizes.
  • Ideology: Player actions advance their empires down the path of various ideologies, which unlock unique abilities, planetary improvements, and other bonuses.
  • Multiplayer: For the first time, Galactic Civilizations is a multiplayer game with full support for custom civilizations, saved multiplayer games and much more.
  • Unique technology trees: Players can play as any of the eight major galactic powers (or design their own), each with their own unique technology tree, ships, colony improvements and abilities.
  • Faction Creator: To encourage massive gameplay, the game includes a faction creator that allows players to create a civilization with its own look, ships, technologies and even options for how the AI will use them.
  • New Battle System: Players assign their ships specific roles to play in combat. You can now view fleet battles in a cinematic style to see your designs in action.
  • New Colony Manager: The location of a planetary improvement now matters. Adjacency bonuses and planetary resources make a major impact on what a planet is strong (or weak) at accomplishing.

System Requirements

    Minimum:
    • OS: 64-bit Windows 8.1 / 8 / 7
    • Processor: 1.8 GHz Intel Core 2 Duo / AMD K10 Dual-Core
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 512 MB DirectX 10.1 Video Card (AMD Radeon HD5x00 Series / Nvidia GeForce 500 Series / Intel HD 4000 or later)
    • DirectX: Version 10
    • Network: Broadband Internet connection
    • Hard Drive: 12 GB available space
    • Sound Card: DirectX Compatible Sound Card
    Recommended:
    • Processor: 2.3 GHz Intel Core i5 Processor or Equivalent
    • Memory: 6 GB RAM
    • Graphics: 1 GB DirectX 10.1 Video Card
    • Hard Drive: 15 GB available space
Helpful customer reviews
108 of 145 people (74%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
27.5 hrs on record
Posted: May 20
As of the 1.0.1, the short version is: watch for updates and wait a little before you decide whether to buy this.

And the long version:

Pros:
  • The general principle of play is sound. It's often indistinguishable from Civilization V, but that's not a bad thing (unless you're paid to judge works on uniqueness.)
  • The depth added by designing our own combat units is interesting and allows for more freedom than other similar games when planning strategy. For example, rather than stumble about blindly or use up mass allowances on combat vessels, you might take a page from modern AEW&C. Or perhaps develop a raider doctrine with long-range, independent vessels capable of hunting alone. Or combine the two and create hunter-killer teams. There's huge potential to evade some of the worst aspects of min-max play in just this one concept.
  • Spaceships!

Cons:
  • Rather buggy for a game priced in the AAA range. Not that AAA titles are bug-free at first release, but that doesn't make it less annoying to pay more to buy less quality earlier. The ship designer in particular is a bug-ridden mess. And that's not a small problem for a game with few other reasons to play it over similar titles.
  • The ship designer user experience--bugs withstanding--would have been reasonable ten years ago. Not today; especially with other, cheaper, vehicle building games out there such as Kerbal Space Program. It's so out of line with modern user experience it feels like Stardock is laughing at us. I've little hope this will improve much, as perusing the early access forums reveals players were pointing out some of the current problems long ago.
  • At times, it feels like Civilization V with a different skin; same pleasures, same annoyances. From the direction early game faction scouts and settlers drive play to the over-engineered leader "discussion/diplomacy" screens containing dialogue even less relevant than a response from Eliza, it can feel an awful lot like an outside contractor team revamped Civilization V without understanding it--and therefore not knowing how to qualitatively improve it.
  • The user interface glitter and glam leaves the impression the team wanted to match Civilization V dollar for dollar, but ran out of time or money. And that is a shame, because so many great games have shown us glitter, sprinkles, and twirly umbrellas in the user interface don't fundamentally improve the play experience and here that money and time was clearly needed elsewhere, e.g., the help system.
  • The help system. Or lack thereof. A few tutorials that start strong and fizzle out. Little to nothing in-game and no real manual to speak of. This is a game much like chess, where mechanics are made up solely to balance one another and so one's intuition and life experience have nothing to contribute (and folks who paid even slight attention in physics or astrophysics 101 are going to be at a disadvantage.) So direct explanation of mechanics of play is essential, and almost entirely missing. Again, for cheaper titles with established forums and wikis, this is palatable. Not so for a title priced in this range.
  • And, the big problem. The play simply does not balance when playing the largest map sizes. And the largest map sizes are presented as a significant differentiator from other like-minded titles.

I hope Stardock builds upon this in the coming months with updates; it's a game I'd love to love. There's a mountain of potential here if they find the budget and courage to come at some of the genre's problems and their solutions with fresh eyes. But, today it's not in the same league as other titles in the same price range nor is does it have the unique personality or creativity of its cheaper, indie brethren.

[Updates]
I've played around with this a little more. Few more things I've noticed:
  • The opponent AI feels inferior to Civilization V, or even to Eliza. I feel as if I've I've as much chance of calling a random die roll as guessing what an AI-controlled opponent will say or do. Not to mention to the glaring inconsistencies, e.g., declaring war one turn and telling you they'll probably declare war on you the next. There's no sense of connection or rationality.
  • The battle mechanic, or lack of one, is uninteresting, even pointless. You move your ships onto enemy ships (or vice versa) and a seemingly straight calculation is performed to determine the winner. I've tried saving and loading a dozen times before a few close battles and saw zero variation in outcome. Moreover, you have no input on battle tactics other than selecting as part of ship design what role a ship will play, i.e., you fix ship roles before construction. But that's not a real problem: roles are too simplistic to have any profound effect. You cannot call a retreat, ships gain no experience and have nothing to differentiate them from one another. Very like chess, very unlike other modern, deep 4X titles.

After a little more play; the feel is even more cardboard, generic, soulless. There's nothing to differentiate it from deeper, more accomplished titles except the concept of a ship designer; and that sabotaged by a poor implementation in comparison to its competitors.
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21 of 27 people (78%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
27.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 21
Lacks so much of what you expect in a modern 4x game. The UI is lackluster, dialogues don't even mention what race is contacting you. You can't check other info before making decisions.

Consequences seem to have little affect, even being at war feels unexciting. Special resources seem massively overpowered, and you can rule the game using experimental weapons so much more powerful than conventional weapons. The manufacturing pace feels out of balance. Killing a shipyard mid game and have it respawn the next turn.

The game is buggy - I made ship designs in a previous game that required large hull research, in a new game I could build these even though they were overweight if I tried to design it afresh. I've been able to build ships that require special resources with no limit, going endlessly into negative special resources.

The game crashed to desktop, frequently, without any real reason.

The battle sequences are completely pointless, take forever and look terrible (especially the way the ships slide sideways and backwards awkwardly). Nobody will ever bother to watch one out, a waste of the developers time.

All in all the game does what you expect. It's a 4x game with nothing very wrong. Just, everything is sub-par. What you'd expect from a 15 yr old game. Every 4x game I've played in the last 5+ years is better. I expected so much more.
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20 of 28 people (71%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
22.4 hrs on record
Posted: May 22
Would be a great game if it didn't crash every 5-20 turns. At one point I would open the game, play for 2 turns and it would crash, after restarting 5 times I gave up and didn't play for a few days. Now it lasts about 20 turns. Another review indicated that it happens if you try to do anything during the wait for turns, however, for me it just randomly crashes. And while it is software and waiting a few days shouldn't have any effect (not like it's an overheated computer or something waiting to cool down) it randomly started lasting longer after waiting. Makes me feel like it's saying "Oh, hey you've been playing too much, go do something else."

I've resorted to setting the autosave feature to save every single turn, which keeps me from losing anything (aside from any major actions I take on a turn which I then have to redo), but I still have to go through the whole relaunching and loading the game and have to put up with even longer time between turns with the saving.

Overall, I like the game itself, it's a good addition to the series. But it would be nice if I could actually make it through a game. You can see I've put in 22 hours in the past 2 weeks and I've yet to finish a game, conquer a single empire, or even find all the civilizations on a large map. I'm about to shelf this game and give up on the $50 I spent until it's patched up some.
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15 of 20 people (75%) found this review helpful
25.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 21
I've played some good games, and I've played some incredibly disappointing games. This is somehow both. This is also the first review I've ever felt inclined to write.
This game is like Civilization, Eve Online and the board game Twilight Imperium all rolled into one. Sounds like an awesome game. But a lot of the features feel largely incomplete. There are a lot of balance issues, and things like tourism and other money making things seem like they haven't really been fleshed out. Money seems almost superfluous. All great ideas, but even a rudimentary economy needs more attention than these have been given.
Early on in a level, my capital and starting planet have some level of importance. I care about what structures I build. But as the game winds on, planets and resources and even my territory and units just seem so pointless.

Maybe it's the lackluster battles involving an oddly large amount of micromanagement to prepare for, but no real control.

Maybe it's the constant spelling and grammar errors. Like, I'm the kind of person that notices spelling and grammar errors in basically every game I've ever played for the past 20 years. But this was insane.

And the stakes just seem so low when the game feels so unfinished. Awesome concept, and there is definitely a game somewhere in there! But this is not a finished game. This is what we come to expect from these pre-released games. Everyone buys into it, and they try to make these deadlines, but they've mostly moved on to the next project.

Again, I look forward to future updates, and I will keep my eye on this game. But as it stands, I don't feel it was worth my money, and it does not feel like the "V1.0" that the reputable companies of yesteryear would have produced. Hopefully that changes, because there are some really great games out there that rely on pre release funding, and if you don't finish your game, you bring the whole medium down a peg.
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12 of 15 people (80%) found this review helpful
31.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 22
Very much still a beta. After around 7 attempts to play a game with friends, we still haven't managed to finish a single game.

The game looks fun, but check back in 6 months to see if it's worthy of being a release version.
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8 of 9 people (89%) found this review helpful
34.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 25
I really want to like this game, because it has everything I ever wanted in a 4x MoO clone. On top of that it looks good, is modable and has a great community of players.

But (at least at this time) this game is a single endeavor of frustration for me.

The AI is of palpable incompetence. Due to focus on expansion I had next to no military fleets and a "Godlike" Drengi race declared war on me (finally!) and then did not attack me for 20 turns. Even then their attacks amounted only to some unorganized probing attacks, while they wasted their time churning up a minor race at the other end of the map. That is not "Godlike", but rather stupid.

The diplomacy is hit and miss. I have seen worse and you can work out some nice deals with neighbors. However, as soon as you even start to build enough ships to defend just your core worlds (and not every nook and cranny of your empire) they get worried about your militarism and even the best relations decline rapidly.

The worst? Bugs, crashes, crippling gameplay issues that bleed all the fun totally dry.

Right now I am +15 hours into building an empire. Am allied with two minor and a major race and at war with two majors and a minor. I do have roughly 20 starbases deployed. Whenever I now hit "TURN" for the next turn, a battle between two Drengi fleets and two of my scouts happens. Which always ends with the scouts getting destroyed. Right when that happens, my game crashes. Regardless if I chose "Quick Battle" or decided to watch it.

So I load the last save. Which was done JUST before hitting "TURN". And I have to "Upgrade Starbase" again for half a dozen Starbases where I just had said "Pass" to refuse the updating as I am waiting for a more worthwhile update later on. So after clicking through that AGAIN and hitting "TURN", the battles take place again and the game crashes yet again.

When I destroy the two Scouts myself, another space battle (a minor against one of my Survey ships) takes place and results in yet another crash.

So .... looks like the +15 hours I poured into that "Empire" are lost. Do I want to start over yet again? Not until these crippling bugs are ironed out.

Stardock has not done itself a favor selling a beta as a "full" game. I do mind paying for a full price game and then having to play guinea pig for blatant and show stopping bugs.
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13 of 19 people (68%) found this review helpful
14.8 hrs on record
Posted: May 22
i dont write reviews for games but this game is so poorly implemented at launch i needed to warn people away from it.
i do not understand how a complany in this day and age can launch a game that is so unplayable - if this was still beta I might accept the awful loading time, constant freezing whenever zooming in or out or if changing screens..As a fully priced game its just disgusting - if this was any other shop brought commodity I'd return it to the store unfortunately cant do that once weve payed our money theres no refunds for an awful slow. laggy game that is unplayable from day 1.
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8 of 10 people (80%) found this review helpful
16.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
Typical Stardock, they will fix it eventually, but tired of paying to play unstable games. Wait until it goes on sale and they patch a few more bugs.
Large maps are unplayable due to internal bugs that cause crashes, even in the saved games.
Bottom line: not ready for release, but they published it anyway.
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7 of 9 people (78%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
112.1 hrs on record
Posted: May 24
This is hard for me to write - I am a big fan of Stardock in general and the GC franchise in particular. I have literally thousands of hours clocked in GC1 & 2, and feel I have given GC3 a good chance.

Somewhere in there is a great game, but it is going to need a lot of help getting out. The problems are too numerous to list in total, so I'll just point out the worst examples:

1. If there is a textbook telling designers how not to create a UI, then GC3 UI designers have followed it to the letter - constant moving from one side of the screen to the other with the mouse, as buttons / clickable options just seem to be randomly placed. Very limited keyboard shortcuts. Completely unsortable lists of ships / planets / starbases etc. You can't even change what a planet / shipyard is producing from these lists (like you could in GC2). The whole thing is a recipe for carpal tunnel!

2. Micro-management hell. The production wheel is a nightmare - setting anything to 100% is a game in itself, trying to drag the pointer on to the one pixel on the screen that does so. You can't progress to the next turn until every planet / ship has a valid order (even if that is just do nothing). Really useful when an AI surrenders to you and dumps you with 800+ ships. Yeah, thanks for that - quit game!

3. Diplomacy is so broken, it is beyond hilarious. As an example of what you can do... I just started a Suicidal difficulty game, gigantic galaxy, all stock AIs on "Godlike" intelligence. I researched Universal Translator, then set 100% economy and built nothing. No ships, no planetary improvements, nothing. By turn 35 I had 182 planets, 54 starbases, and was earning 14000bc per turn - yep, the godlike AI just gave me everything they had as soon as they met me.

Time to move on - hopefully Stardock will fix this game, but I'm not sure I'll be back to check or not.
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
35.6 hrs on record
Posted: May 26
34 hours in the first week and a half. No regrets.

Pros
  • Extremely detailed - You can easily get lost in the immense detail of the game. For instance, the level of detail and complexity in ship design is amazing. Research options seem endless. The size of the map can range anywhere from just a handful of sectors to thousands of sectors in area.
  • Beautiful - The graphics are very nice. Everything is very polished and nice to look at.
  • Endless possibilities - This kinda goes hand-in-hand with the detail, but there are just so many choices you can make. You can create your own alien races, able to customize how they construct their civilization and interact with others. You can not only design aesthetics for your own ships, but combine modules in endless combinations to give your ship any number of strengths. I'm sure that I've only begun to scratch the surface of the possibilities in this game.
  • Like Civilization, but way, way better - And it's in space!
  • Super powerful uber death machines - When you start manufacturing the huge-size ships with the fully upgrades weapons, you can take on an entire fleet with one ship. Not to say that this is easy to get to. It takes quite a while to get to that point in research and manufacturing capability, but it's extremely rewarding when you do.

Cons
  • A bit buggy - I got it on release day. It has crashed inexplicably quite a few times while playing. Thankfully, the autosave is very reliable, and I only ended up losing a few turns each time. It seems that they've fixed this somewhat, but not completely.
  • Very, very time consuming - Not necessarily a con, but it might be for some people. Do NOT get this game if you just want a quick play-through. This game takes a lot of time to get into, learn, and actually play, especially when you start moving into the larger maps.

I never played the previous games in this franchise, but I love this one. Overall, I'd say it's a very good buy if you're someone who's willing to put a lot of time into a turn-based strategy game. It's like Civ on steroids, in space, with giant lasers.
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9 of 14 people (64%) found this review helpful
34.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
Huge let down. They played it "safe" and made a less interesting, slightly more pretty gal civ 2. Many of the features of gal civ 2 are absent and most everything else is exactly the same. Fleet battles look horrible and are a joke. They are exactly the same as in gal civ 2. The ships aimlessly float toward eachother and then off in all directions. Invasions? No different than before. Just one screen and thats it. Overall the game is heavy on hardware for no apparent reason, boring, without soul or nearly any entertaining qualities at all. Sad I wasted money on this garbage.
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
11.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
Not enough content for a 46 € price tag. The fundamental mechanics of the game are satisfactory but after some time of playing you realise that something is missing, and things start feeling a tad bit repetitive. Fleet battles also feel unimpressive and don't really give me a feeling of huge monsters of steel battling it out in the vacuum of space.

With this in mind, it's not really a bad game, just not worth the 46 €. There is a lot of room for min-maxing for those who like that, and designing your own ships to fill your specific needs is highly appreciated.
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
3.1 hrs on record
Posted: May 26
Going to keep giving it a try, but at first blush, I'm horribly disappointed. The ship customization feels limited and wonky, especially compared to other games in the genre, and especially considering that the combat is entirely out of your control (something not entirely clear in the store description.) Can't recommend it.
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
15.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
*Disclaimer: This review subject to change after future updates.

A fun little 4X. For the most part, it's like Civilization 5 in space.

The ability to create your own factions and ships is a nice touch as well, it adds an element of creativity to the game, and allows you to make something to suit your play style.

However, while I could recommend this to anyone who likes 4X games, I cannot say that I would recommend buying it AT THIS TIME. It's very finicky if your graphics card is not compatible with DirectX 10. I would crash every ten minutes on the dot before I upgraded my drivers. There are also very noticeable bugs on the part of the game that cause crashes as well. So a lot of the time, you'll be opening the task manager, though there may be potential fixes for issues like this.

So, until further updates are released to alleviate these issues, I would say save your fifty bucks. It's worth the money, but just not at this time.
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
74.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 25
I am writing this review after playing through the game a couple of times, rather than after a limited amount of game play. Overall this is a simple strategy game which is easy to play however it has a number of flaws. Firstly you have no tactical control over battles which I found increasingly annoying. Secondly if you build a large empire you wind up with a miserable population as there is a massive penalty for having a large empire and no matter how many approval boosting buildings will overcome this. Equally if you have a large empire winning by conquest is very easy as the other empires aren't large enough to oppose you. The introductory graphics seem to suggest large fleets and this is simply not possible. I tend to find I have Capital ships facing a few small ships and it's then like dropping bombs into barrels of fish so easy victories. If these issues can be addressed it would be a decent strategy game but as it stands not recommended
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
9.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 25
As a former player of Gal Civ I, i was expecting alot more from this game.
For an AAA Price I expected way better graphics and game play

This game feels like a 10 year old game engine, with some updates

Waste of Money, this is a <19.99 game

Can I have my money back?
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
6.3 hrs on record
Posted: May 20
6/10 could have been much better shame, but still ok game maybe pick up in a good sale
if you like the other galactic civilizations then you should like this its much the same with a fue things add its more like a patch on gc 2

i found the diplomacy is bad they want way to much in trades so much so it making diplomacy a wast of time
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
26.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 20
I have tried to play this game for the past week trying everything I could from you tube videos to following every steam support guide to get this game to work. all it tells me is Failed to Start Game (Missing Executable).
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
51.9 hrs on record
Posted: May 20
Galactic Civs 3 just isn't very fun. You run through the depth of the game fairly quickly. The campaign is short, boring, and buggy. Custom games aren't balanced or fun. Altarians are super-powered in all my games and steamroll the map no matter what I do. AI in custom games don't really fight each other despite being at war and will prefer to send all their ships at you. Seems like it takes the player a painfully long time to build ships despite your production capabilities and the AI will pump them out with little effort.
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5 of 7 people (71%) found this review helpful
7.7 hrs on record
Posted: May 23
Disappointing sequel to the highly regarded Galactic Civilizations II. Does not feature any real innovation over the previous installment, while many of the elements that were implemented so well in that game somehow seem to lack the proper polished and are poorly executed.

You'll get much more enjoyment just going back and playing Galactic Civilizations II, an older but still much superior game.
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