Recommended at <=$10.00 USD, and not a penny more.
This is a simplified 4x game.
+ Good second-screen experience.
+ Easy to pick up and play.
+ Diplomacy engine is actually half-way decent (e.g., giving things to other races yields tangible benefits).
+ Manual combat can actually yield positive results (vs auto-combat) when opposing ship designs are ~ = tech level.
+ Races are balanced in non-story (Classic?) mode (same tech-tree/ starting conditions).
+ At < = Normal AI level, come-from-behind victories are possible.
+ Planetary conquest mechanics are above-average (IMO).
+ Good terraforming model/ mechanics (simpler/ easier than Endless Space, for example).
- AI makes some non-sensical moves. Example: requesting *your* surrender when you've whittled them down to their last planet. (WTF?!)
- Would be a good tablet experience if context-sensitive menu items and text were a bit larger.
- Music sux (muted it - use di.fm\trance
or \chillout instead).
- Graphix suk (reminds me of 90's EGA/ VGA games, for some reason...)
- "Story mode" is weak (IMO - but, admittedly, at least it has one...).
- Tech Tree nagivation and management is poor (albeit comparatively realistic, as re: process).
- Ship design is a kludge. Too complicated where it doesn't need to be... And too simple where it should be more complex (IMO).
- ~80% of ship design doesn't matter when using auto-combat.
- Few victory scenarios. No science victory.
- Some weapons too similar to one another in practice.
- After a certain disparity in tech level... Manual combat matters not (superior tactics will not compensate). The extent of disparity is closer than I feel it should be.
- No fast-forward button on ground troop invasion screens (personal pet-peeve).
- Generally simplified, vs other 4x games (read: you'll get bored of it more quickly).
Worth it only if deeply-discounted. (I'd like to have some of whatever they were smoking when they decided on pricing for this game...)