Pandora: First Contact is a science fiction 4X turn-based strategy game on a planetary scale. Our Earth has been exhausted and colonial attempts on other planetary bodies have been in vain. Finally, after decades of exploration, an interstellar probe has brought promise of a new world many light-years away.
User reviews: Mostly Positive (266 reviews)
Release Date: Nov 14, 2013

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Buy Pandora: Complete Edition

Includes 2 items: Pandora: Eclipse of Nashira, Pandora: First Contact

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Recommended By Curators

"Duncan, Sjin, Lewis and Parv revelled in Pandora's civ-like strategy. It's 4X turn based strategy on a galactic scale."
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Recent updates View all (9)

November 9, 2014

Version 1.4.3 / 1.5.4 Released (Mac OS X Hotfixes)

Updated Pandora: First Contact to version 1.4.3 and Eclipse of Nashira to 1.5.4.

The following changes apply:
* Changed fullscreen modes to use OpenGL scaling instead of changing the display resolution. This fixes Mac OS X fullscreen issues.
* Fixed Mac OS X 10.10 (Yosemite) cursor issues.

A bigger update is still in the works.

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October 9, 2014

Eclipse of Nashira Version 1.5.3 Released

Added:
* Added button to toggle grid in the world screen.

Changed:
* Changed steal / sabotage modifier from 25% - 100% to 25% - 75%.
* Increased upkeep for suburbs and purifiers from 2 to 3.
* Building suburbs now requires Pandoran Construction.
* City tile now provides +1 food and +1 minerals.

Fixed:
* Fixed a single drop pod being able to drop an entire unit stack.
* Fixed amphibious formers not being able to explore ruins.
* Fixed crashes and empty strings for diplomacy actions involving third parties in multiplayer.
* Fixed incorrect hotkey listed for the grow fungus order.
* Minor language fixes.

Change log history.

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Includes Free Add-on: Return of the Messari


The ancient Messari return to Pandora with all their might, deploying portals and terrifying ion storms. From these portals come forces never before seen by mankind, and an infestation spreads across Pandora. The strongest factions are the ones that have to fear them most, but they will spare no one.

About This Game

Pandora: First Contact is a science fiction 4X turn-based strategy game on a planetary scale.

In the future, factions have risen up from opportunities and ideologies independent of governments. Private corporations and religious movements have started wars over greed, ideology and power. Many have died and many lands lay in ruin. Planet Earth has been exhausted and colonial attempts on other planetary bodies have been in vain.

Finally, after decades of exploration, an interstellar probe has brought promise of a new world many light-years away. The most powerful factions have gathered their best men and women to send on a long journey to Pandora.

Far from desolate, the earth-like planet has been found to host a plethora of indigenous life forms. While the gigantic monstrosities inland and at the oceans seem relatively calm, human-sized bugs and fungus are threatening to stop mankind's expansion.

As the various factions strive to take control, each will research and develop numerous new technologies, discovering new weapons and industry, whilst opening trade agreements and forging alliances with other factions to gain a foothold. As they spread, they will discover ancient ruins from alien civilizations that will grant them advantages over their rivals.

Key Features

  • Explore a new world harboring a variety of eco-regions, from the frozen ice lands of the north, to vast deserts and lush tropical forests in the south.
  • Survive encounters with the planet's dangerous wild life. Deadly swarms walk the lands and agile predators fly in the skies. There is even talk of a giant creature in the oceans.
  • Live in harmony with nature or use it to further your cause. The indigenous life will react to your actions and treat you accordingly.
  • Discover ruins and artifacts, the relics of an ancient alien civilization long forgotten that can give you an edge against the planet life and other rivaling factions.
  • Found new cities to expand the borders of your empire. Manage cities by adjusting the tax rate, choosing production and assigning colonists to jobs.
  • Operate a fully globalized and pooled resource and growth system. Specialize one city to harvest minerals while churning out units in another.
  • Adapt your empire to pressing demand. Your colonists will migrate between cities based on factors such as pollution and living space.
  • Shape the landscape with terraforming, construct farms, mines, forts, and other improvements to increase the productivity of your colonies or to fortify positions.
  • Progress through a vast randomized research tree spanning dozens of technologies providing operations, buildings, units, weapons, and more.
  • Negotiate trade and research pacts with other factions for mutual benefits. Forge alliances to stand united against common foes.
  • Design your own units by choosing from a range of different classes, armors, weapons, and devices to maximize the strength of your forces.
  • Command vast armies across the battlefield against enemy factions, making use of the variety of terrain types to gain an advantage.
  • Unleash hell on your opponents with powerful military operations, ranging from drop pods behind enemy lines to black hole generators eradicating entire landscapes.
  • Prove yourself in multiplayer with friends or strangers and discover entirely new strategies.
  • Customize your experience through easily moddable XML data and well-known image and audio formats.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    Minimum:
    • OS: Windows XP SP2 / Vista
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 or equivalent
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible with 256 MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce 6600 series / ATI Radeon 9500 series)
    • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: Windows 7
    • Processor: Intel Core i3 or equivalent
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible with 512 MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 series / ATI Radeon HD 4870 series)
    • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: Mac OS X 10.7
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 or equivalent
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible with 256 MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce 6600 series / ATI Radeon 9500 series)
    • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: Mac OS X 10.8
    • Processor: Intel Core i3 or equivalent
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible with 512 MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 series / ATI Radeon HD 4870 series)
    • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
    Minimum:
    • OS: Linux
    • Processor: Intel Core 2 or equivalent
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible with 256 MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce 6600 series / ATI Radeon 9500 series)
    • Hard Drive: 1 GB available space
    Recommended:
    • OS: Linux
    • Processor: Intel Core i3 or equivalent
    • Memory: 4 GB RAM
    • Graphics: OpenGL 2.0 compatible with 512 MB VRAM (NVIDIA GeForce GTX 260 series / ATI Radeon HD 4870 series)
    • Hard Drive: 2 GB available space
Helpful customer reviews
159 of 177 people (90%) found this review helpful
3 people found this review funny
17.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 28, 2014
Surprisingly better than Civ beyond Earth in many ways. Get them both.
The world feels a lot more alien than Civ BE and this is a good thing.
Random tech tree.
Hostile Aliens.
Alien Invasion
Eclispe brings out some nasties.
Diplomacy lacking but useable. Still better than Civ BE trade hubs.
Recommend.
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80 of 91 people (88%) found this review helpful
7.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 11, 2014
Some people call this game Civ in space. It is not the first game to recieve this nickname, nor will it be the last. At its simplest, Pandora is a 4x strategy game that very closely resembles the Civilization franchise. What it truly is, however, is a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri (the true 'Civ in space'). This game looks and feels like Alpha Centauri down from its visuals to its alien threats to having to deal with hazardous space fungus.

And so, what we have here is an alternative to Civ: Beyond Earth. Think of Pandora as a baseline which C:BE must surpass. Because if the TRUE successor to Alpha Centauri cannot defeat the spiritual successor, a lot of people will be disappointed. And whereas it is not without its flaws (limited number of factions, a single visual style for all factions), Pandora: First Contact is a solid, enjoyable game. I'd recommend it to anyone looking for something to play whilst waiting for the release of Beyond Earth. And if Beyond Earth turns out to be a flop, Pandora is there to take its place.

I heartily recommend.
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60 of 65 people (92%) found this review helpful
7.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 31, 2014
Pandora tries to be a spiritual successor to Alpha Centauri, but it doesn't -quite- hit the mark. That isn't to say it's bad, in fact in some ways it can be quite charming. It's also a perfectly good alternative to Beyond Earth until that title drops in price to something a little more reasonable for what essentially amounts to expansion content.

If you've played Civ 5, you've more or less played Pandora. There are some striking differences - the non-linear tech tree, the ability to give units custom loadouts, alien hives, and the arrival of a "doomsday" army in mid-late game. It does these things well (Although BE's tech web sounds more impressive), and if you're trying to choose between Beyond Earth or Pandora, I would advise you to wait until Pandora goes on sale and then pick it up first. It isn't good enough to be worth the full price of $33.00 CAD, but it's well worth purchasing all the same.

I found the AI to certainly be smarter and much more aggressive than its history-based counterpart from Firaxis, and the couple of games I've played felt like they moved at a much quicker pace. This is a good and a bad thing. For those players that enjoy almost constant conflict and a push to pretty much wipe the board early or be wiped, this is for you. For those players that prefer a slower Civ-style pace, you're going to be a little frustrated with the way the AI seems to blatantly rush through the game in -every- regard. My first match lasted only 50 turns before my AI neighbor wiped me out with tier 3 units while I was still clearing hives and building up my third city just trying to keep my income positive. In the 7.5 hours I've played, I've had 4 games - 3 lost and one win, all on small maps. I have one game that's been sitting unfinished for a couple months, but thats mostly due to other distractions.

In a show of fixing what should have never been "fixed" by Firaxis in the first place, Pandora does away with the silly one-unit-per-tile rule of the current Civ gen, including Beyond Earth. Yes, unit stacking is back. And it is fantastic. The "Training" feature that levels up your units was also a very welcome addition, and something that can keep your low-grade units competitive for a little while longer when resources are tight. Graphically, Pandora does pretty well. It's nothing outstanding, but it still looks quite good, and could pass as a product from a much larger studio if compared. Unit animations are nice and fluid, the sound quality is quite good, and the alien species have quite a nice amount of diversity. They're also quite difficult, and some of the larger species will continue to be a hassle for your units until about tier 3 weapons and tech.

The factions all feel reasonably distinct, but there was room for the developer to do a lot more too. The bonuses are nice, and give the factions a different feel when it comes to gameplay, but visually they're all homogenous. This is very disappointing, as even Civ 5 and the latter Beyond Earth allowed for numerous visual styles. This is something that could easily be remedied with a community mod, but the developer has yet to offer any workshop support and the modding community is terribly slow to grow. I'm no modder myself, but this usually indicates that the game is not all that friendly towards customization. There's also no map editor at the present, so if you were hoping to recreate the alien infested Earth from TV's Defiance, or KSP's Kerbin, you're unfortunately out of luck. Both of these things should require developer attention and soon, as they severely limit the game's appeal.

6.5/10

All in all, Pandora does an okay job at presenting a decent sci-fi 4x reminiscent of SMAC, but just an okay job. It gets some things right, but it's also missing a lot of things that should be there already. The seeming lack of mod support and a community around it and no official map editor costs the game some serious points. If it had those two, I could probably toss it an 8 or 8.5, but as it stands it lacks two crucial features. That said, It's well worth picking up if it's on sale. But I wouldn't advise paying full price for what you get. Then again, it's still quite reasonable compared to the tag on Beyond Earth.

A decent library addition for any fan of sci-fi or 4x games.
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42 of 46 people (91%) found this review helpful
7.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 26, 2014
Pandora: First contact is basically a modern version of Alpha Centauri on a hex grid, as opposed to Civilization Beyond Earth, which is essentially Civ 5 in space. Like AC, Pandora includes unit customization, terraforming, randomized tech trees and factions with distinct leaders and philosophies alongside a rich backstory and a detailed compendium. In addition to this, varied alien aggression and several alien-related events can easily disrupt the balance of power in a game, forcing players to react to new threats and even form tenuous alliances to overcome them. While the game only includes a few unit chassis (infantry, light vehicles, tanks, aircraft, mechs and dreadnoughts), each of these unit types can fill different roles with the wide range of weapons and specialized equipment available - it's not uncommon to find yourself with 3 different types of tanks, for instance. Lastly, the problem of "death stacks" isn't as large as it is in games like Civilization 4, as features such as orbital bombardment and artillery can damage entire unit stacks, punishing this strategy.

The only complaint I have at the time of writing this review is that the espionage system is too powerful in the hands of the player; it's possible, using two spies, to completely prevent an AI player from researching technologies and amassing wealth - while the AI is capable of using this same strategy (and they try), a human player will likely counteract this by positioning units around cities while an AI player won't.
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63 of 85 people (74%) found this review helpful
12.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 11, 2014
Whilst this game has most of the features Alpha Centauri had, it does things a little differently and lacks the polish and sofistication of the older game.

It uses a Armour = health, weapons = power + Bio, Light mech, heavy mech or air system to make users good or bad against various things which works nicely.

It also features events that trigger some pretty big game changing attacks by native wild live and alien invasions.

You do not have to research everything either, you can skip some things to research something else. Plus research is randomised per tier so each game is different, each nation is different, lots of good ideas here. Unfortunately this makes the science victory pretty much obselete due to the way the cherry picking of research works.

Over all a nice ideas but they do negatively affect the gameplay....

AI is utter ♥♥♥♥ unfortunately... seriously, even during peace time they all build agents and send them against the richest nation or the most advanced nation. So who ever that is, gets every agent on the planet attacking them in wave after wave of agent infiltrations turn after turn.

War is the same, the most disliked side is attacked by everybody and if you sign the open borders treaty with everybody, they will all come to your land to fight each other. Even if your at peace with everybody. In all my games, my own land was always full of AI units fighting each other.

If you stay friendly with everybody you do not achieve an allied victory, you simply become the last one to die.

The alien invaders do not heal, but are twice as tough as your best units, so you have to wear them down, throwing wave after wave of troops against them in suicide missions. The alien mother ship works the same way only it has way too much health. I saw it defeat a stack of about 40 AI units in a single turn.

Due to the way the research cherry picking works I saw an AI build a group of troopers that utterly smashed a group of 40 units of all types. The stack of 40 had a rich variety of troops, where as the AI only had colonial troops, so should have been slaughtered. But it wiped out the stack of 40.

The AI also seems to be able to build with out interference, whilst I end up in a constant battle with the native live from the very start of the game. Even when I made a point of clearing all native hives early on with flamers, the eclispe event ensures native live still attack anyway. Enemy seem to be able to destroy in provement instantly just by walking on them so its really not worth improving anything early on, it will all be destroyed anyway by the natives or the aliens.

And that was all on very easy... the easiest difficulty the game has to offer.

Nice idea, but without meaningful diplomacy and AI decisions that do not involve all AIs ganging up on 1 player or AI , this game really is not worth much.
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49 of 67 people (73%) found this review helpful
14.4 hrs on record
Posted: October 25, 2014
forget civ beyond earth.... THIS is the true x4 alpha centauri soul successor...

seriously, having played civ beyond earth i now realise how superior pandora first contact is, the planets of pandora feel alive, the menu is more indepth (were as in beyond earth they cut it and will dlc it later) the aliens are everywere (unlike in beyond earth were you may see 2 alien units per planet circumfrance) the world of pandora feels more alive and more active than civs new game....

THIS is the beyond earth you were looking for!

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27 of 32 people (84%) found this review helpful
32.8 hrs on record
Posted: November 2, 2014
After quickly becoming disillusioned with Civilization:Beyond Earth, I noticed Pandora and haven't looked back. Without reading the manuals I jumped in and began dominating the standard AI in my first game until I got some small infobox about an alien structure. I ignored it, thinking of it as nothing more than a bit of background ambience. Yeah... I was wrong; enter the Messari Mothership. This monstrosity streamrolled my capital while my troops were away on foreign shores.
While i'm not certain of the game's replay value at this point, the "invasion" is an awesome gimmick to contend with during mid-late game.

7/10 - Would happily allow a Messari Mothership to attempt to steamroll my capital again.
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18 of 21 people (86%) found this review helpful
18.4 hrs on record
Posted: November 24, 2014
It's a decent game ruined by agent mechanics which are easily abused by AI and player alike.

Agents are cheap as you can build them with pretty much no upgrades and rush them into AI towns of allies and enemies alike to steal tons of their money and research.

The AI will do the same to you - even if you are in an alliance with them. There are no diplomacy options to tell them to stop. So the only way to do it is to wall off your city with actual units - or just kill the AI.

It is unfortunate that I am giving this game a thumbs down just for this issue - but it's essentially game breaking. Don't use it - the AI will rob you blind, use it, you'll hopelessly cripple the AI and win easily. In short the challenge and sense of achievement that should exist in a 4X is simply not here.
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17 of 20 people (85%) found this review helpful
9.5 hrs on record
Posted: October 9, 2014
If you liked Alpha Centarui or any Civ game for that matter, you will love this game.

Like others have said, it isn't really fair to compare Pandora to Civ as there are minor differences, but the genre and feel are definitely nostalgic, and reflect on older Civ games in a good way.

After 10 hours of playtime on a campaign (Huge map, long settings, all factions) I havent run into any game-breaking frustrations. The only one that I can think of is that the game starts to take awhile between turns the further you go, but honestly thats an issue all games of this genre have (when you reach the point of the entire map being colonized and hundreds if not thousands of units running around, etc.)

Cool community. Theres a nice competitive scene out there if you are interested in that sort of stuff.

10/10.
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9 of 9 people (100%) found this review helpful
4.8 hrs on record
Posted: September 14, 2014
This game isn't for the faint of heart.

Having been a long time 4x fan and player, I did what I always do. Go in, set it all on normal/medium difficulty, and expect to wreck the AI as I learn the game.... Nope....

I got my rear handed to me by the random wandering monsters... Yea.... In-fact I didn't even meet an AI before I had to restart. This game is not a walk in the park.

But that's a good thing!

You see, in this game.. you gotta actually think and learning as you go, at least on normal probably won't net you a win.

The game isn't graphically amazing, but the mechanics, and game-play make up for it once you get into it. The randomization of the tech tree grants you a chance at strategy every new game, along with the new layout of the map.

Oh yea, and customizing units is a must to match what you expect them to be doing.. There isn't a 1 size fits all for perfection.
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12 of 15 people (80%) found this review helpful
17.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 25, 2014
Do you like Civilization? Specifically did you like civilization 4? Because this is just Civ 4 in space with some shiny awesome bells and whistles, and a bunch of new features that add depth. But the core gameplay, if you liked civ 4 you will like pandora. Also the game has this weird sort of story that unfolds as you advance in tech, not to mention really cool backstories for all the characters/ factions. Anyway that's about it its a good game, very complex and interesting, almost as replayable as civilization, though not quite. Still if you want 100+ hours of gameplay from every game you buy, then you will get your money's worth if you like Turn Based Strategy.

If your wondering about how much i played, I bought this as well as Rome Total War at the same time, but if that wasn't the case I probably would have played it quite a bit more.
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10 of 12 people (83%) found this review helpful
27.2 hrs on record
Posted: September 26, 2014
A great 4X game, what I used to cure down my hype in waiting for the release of Beyond Earth.
Although the game has quite a steep learning, REALLY took me alot of playthroughs and restarts ("rage quits" you might call them) to get things going right in the game (e.g. Prioritizing the wrong things).

TL:DR;
Like it or not, Military is VERY IMPORTANT in the game; you arrive on this new planet, Pandora; peaceful at first (depending on your alien agression difficulty), but eventually the planet will become very hostile towards you (and other factions). Aliens (Native Wildlife) in the game behaves similarly to Barbarians in Civ, their main purpose is to cause trouble and possibly wreck havoc in your new cities (with the exception that Aliens can actually raze entire cities in a turn). However, Barbarians will always attack you, but their not that strong, usually a good combination of 2-3 units can deal with most of those issues. But for Aliens, they won't attack you right from the start (that's why exploration is safe and actually a necessity); but when they do, they can be really troublesome; barbarians quite often invade in individuals, but aliens invade in large groups. Have a bad military and your city is prone to destruction. Other more powerful aliens (e.g. Galeths, Aspidochs) attack you much later in the game, prioritize the right things (e.g. research on weps) and you can deal with them (with the lost of a few units in some cases); otherwise be prepared to lose a few cities. Keep playing longer, then there's a third type of alien invasion that can even be more of an issue for unprepared factions (having little military), but I'll leave it for you to discover.

Not prioritizing military was in fact one of the earliest mistakes I made that ultimately led to the doom of my faction sadly.

In terms of AI, it's overall well-designed; aliens can become a true hassle, AIs are in general very expansionistic and can be very militarily aggressive (that's why maintaining a positive military really helps you from AI threats). However, the diplomacy system within the game seems to be to basic and easy to manipulate. There's not much feeling or complexity to it. Believe it or not, factions are strangely very eager to go to war with other factions that they maintain a "reserved" or lower relationship with. Unless the opposing faction has an overwhelming superior military, the option "demand war declaration on third party" surprising works very well if you use it on the right parties (being "reserved" is sufficient). You can use to create large scale global conflicts of wars being factions and other factions while you just sit there and watch. Amazingly, even AIs who dislike you (being "reserved") will comply to those war demands if the third party is someone they are less than neutral with.
It would be very appreciated if the devs could do refining in order to improve it and add more complexity (something I am looking forward to).

Maybe this is the aspect that makes the game quite militaristic and expansionistic after all.

I would recommend this game, including it's DLC (Eclipse of Nashira) as it does give a nice additional flavor and element towards the planet's hostile nature, to those who are in space-themed 4X games, and especially those who are waiting for the release of Beyond Earth.
Although, the game does come with a hefty price tag, however for those who are reading this on the day I post this, there's a current promotional sale (I believe it's 33%) due to the new release for the DLC. If you are looking to get it, now couldn't be a better time (however there's always hope for the steam summer sale).
Nevertheless, I did in fact paid the full price tag for the game, and I do not regret doing so.
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8 of 9 people (89%) found this review helpful
84.3 hrs on record
Posted: October 9, 2014
This is more of a first impression than a review. Quite a lot of the in game time steam recorded is actually just idling while the launcher was still open.

Pandora: First Contact is a turn based strategy game that tries to revive Sid Meier's Alpha Centaury, strapping it over a modern framework. At that it succeeds.. mostly. While the UI is certainly a lot more user-friendly than that Alpha Centaury had, you'd often like some more information about the progress of your empire.

While the visuals are objectively a straight upgrade form it's spiritual predecessor it still doesn't look all that up to date with some blurry terrain meshes here and there or textures that could have used just a little more polishing. It runs perfectly fine though, at least for me, with a steady framerate even later in the game with much more stuff to process.

It features a quite expansive, randomized techtree that'll take quite a lot of time to get through to the end and while you can customize your units with different waepons, armor and devices the tiered, straight nature of the techtree leaves you with little suprises. New weapons are always just a better version of previous ones with just x more damage, nothing fancy.

Diplomacy is rather bare bones as well with not all that much different options and not always your rivals react reasonable to your actions. You may nuke half of the planet and Mrs. Harmony-and-save-the-planet doesn't give a damn while Lady Religious-Fanatic even though you nuked the warmongering Imperium (which they were at war with as well). Said Imperium declared war on first contact on me by the way. I mean.. they are warmongers and don't like anyone but.. that's quite extreme. I played as the Solar Dynasty, sort of China in space - highly productive, fast growing but reckless which results in a lot more pollution. (save-the-planet liked me though...)
In general the different ideologies don't seem to matter all that much. You pick a faction with fixed strengths and weaknesses and stick with that; no policy system as Civ 5 had for example. Not even the social engineering Alpha Centaury had is present in any way.

They added espionage with their latest DLC along with water-tile improvements and some other interesting but ultimately not that relevant content. Espionage is... well, it works though it's not half as powerfull as you might think as agents are treated as regular units on the map. The way they work is best compared to the privateer unit in Civ 5. They show up as factionless units on the map and may attack empires you are not at war with without consequences though they lack the power to be effective at that. In fact they are easily killed even by the most basic infantry unit. IF they can get to a city though, they may be quite rewarding, based on the economical or scientific strength of your rivals. The only way to be able to get to a city for me so far had been to send a stack of 4 or more agents to a city and just hope they don't get stomped on on their way there - quite costly in production.

All that little flaws put aside that are inherent to games with a very limited budget it still is a solid game. Solid economy-system, solid combat, solid visuals, solid techtree, a good UI and enough things threatening your fledgeling empire to keep you constantly on edge at least up until late midgame.
For the low price you'll get 20-30 hours of fun and addictive "just one more turn" gameplay, if not more.
It may not have the depth of the original Alpha Centauri or the refined looks and gameplay of Civ 5 but, at least until Civilization: Beyond Earth is released, it serves as a rocksolid civ game with sci-fi based setting of which there aren't all that many around.

Fun, addictive, good looking if a little bare boned - Recommended.
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10 of 13 people (77%) found this review helpful
52.0 hrs on record
Posted: September 3, 2014
Pandora: First Contact

Well I have played two games now. This game is a simplified Civilization. Here are some thoughts:

1. Tile improvements. There is only one improvement of each type. So no irrigation or railroads. Very nice and simple. Also, population is not placed on the map in the city screen. Very easy to run cities.

2. Design units. Units may be designed and older units refitted. Pretty neat. Choices are Gun, Armor and Special for each unit type. Units are not tied to cities and only have low cost gold upkeeps.

3. Projects instead of wonders. These are neat Once 'built' the project applies to your nation.

4. Universal Food, Minerals, Research and Gold. Yep, everything is shared. Population growth is based on Growth of each city and does not count city food. Except morale, it is city-specific.

5. No Research Item Trading. YAY! This stops the AI from catching up to the player. Only research points are involved in 'trades'. Same with money. (but there are diplomacy gifts).

Pandora does not take too long to play. I use Slow pace and each game was 10-12 hours long. I had research victories both times, but was close to a military victory in the second game. (I tend to avoid wars, they are messy. My wars are also short. As in over. :) ) Graphics are pretty good. The game is more concentrated on city buildings and fighting. Oh, there are also some neat events within the game, mainly dealing with the local bugs and some space invaders. Overall, Pandora is really neat. I like it WAY better than Civ games.

Sci-Fi theme. Units are really neat, as are the technologies.
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8 of 10 people (80%) found this review helpful
12.9 hrs on record
Posted: October 30, 2014
I was pleasantly surprised by Pandora. Having played Civ:BE now, I have to say that Pandora did several things better, from the threat posed by the world to unit design. I can even see merits in the Pandora tech tree concept. The unit designer is also a nice plus. Spying really needs a rework, though. Overall, grab this one on sale, and enjoy.
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9 of 12 people (75%) found this review helpful
11.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 13, 2014
I just can't quite give it a thumbs iup. But I hate giving this a thumbs down too. It really deserves neither.

I was playing this before the Steam release (purchased through Matrix when it was released) so don't let the hours played fool you. It's competent in the sense that it functions, you can build stuff, units, expand cities, explore, blah blah blah. But it's not really interesting. The factions are pretty dull - aggressive factions are like the Civ Mongols, etc. Some of the rock-paper-scissors aspect of building units is neat as are the military operations. Tech trees, buildings, visuals are only ok.

The original alien planet gets old quickly and soon the life is destroyed. Nothing much interesting remains until a "twist" halfway through the game which makes an effort to shake things up. That's interesting the first couple of times you play but after that it's not that great.

Beyond that there are no surprises. Every game plays out like the last one. It's lacking that all-elusive soul - there's nothing familiar with Pandora (Sci-fi 4x games tend to have this problem) and there's nothing particular cool either. No planet terraforming, cool factions or anything like the stuff that made SMAC great. Victory conditions are "meh". The AI just spams cities everywhere. Diplomacy is basic. There's nothing particularly great about Pandora, much like there's nothing particularly awful.

You could do worse. But you could go buy a great 4x game like Civ V or Endless Legend and get far more for your money.
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5 of 5 people (100%) found this review helpful
223.1 hrs on record
Posted: January 10
I have been playing 4x strategy games for 23 years. I remember installing Civ 1 and gluing myself to the screen. My parents would threaten me with "No civ!" from time to time and boy that worked. I went on to play and enjoy every other version of the game, extensively, despite the changes that frustrated many.

Alpha Centauri was my jam. I probably had thousands of hours played, and I STILL have it installed and still play it; in my opinion it was the best in terms of immersion and strategy. I would LOVE to see steam carry it, it would sell very well and I would have people to play with multiplayer again.

ANY WAY, this game is the modern sequel to Alpha Centauri in spirit; If you haven't played Alpha Centauri, I apologize for the reference, you should go look it up and get your hands on it. It's brutal, immersive, and has endless playability, as is Pandora. The game is not perfect, and is still being devved and updated (I trolled their forums a bit and their devs actively respond to questions and comments), but is still beautiful and brutal at the same time.

Strategy wise, it is incredibly complicated however you can start out simply till you learn the ropes. Customizable units means that you can get intel on what your oponents are using (with your nifty satellite recon operations, which are very useful), OR you can out tech everyone and have mega upgraded units that are good against everything and nearly immortal. The latter is much more difficult and expensive. It is easy to learn but hard to master, I still find myself changing my strategy mid game; discovering a new technology could change the tide of battle very easily. Getting intel that an enemy fleet is about to hit your mainland when your army is off fighting on another continent? No problem, you can research drop pods to recall your troops back to the mainland, and watch them drop from orbit to obliterate your foes on the beach.

Mid and late game can be VERY VERY HARD if you don't know what you are doing, which is something they are working to patch. The eclipse isn't so bad, but the messari invasion can be very frustrating. Here's the thing though, if you stick through it, it will make you a better 4x player. Every game you lose you will learn something from... And YES, you will lose at first. I recommend starting on very easy and low aliens until you get the hang of it. Learn to skip techs that you know you do not need based on what your armies and infrastructure need. It will take a few playthroughs to get the hang of this... The random tech tree was odd at first, but I ended up liking it very much, it gives a very unique feel to every single game in terms of the strategic decisions you make.

It is a very immersive environment, beautifully however simply rendered. Watching leviathans in the water waver, surfacing a bit and then going back down to a silhouette. The combat could be done a bit better in terms of animation, but it is not too lacking, and I can't be quite that picky as simplicity is beauty. This is a game I play on a 7 year old desktop, and it still looks good and lags just a tiny bit late game. I love watching the world darken for the eclipse, and then re emerge to light afterwards. Clouds of ash and infestation encircle the world and darken it a bit again for the messari invasion. Late game is my favorite... Dropping nukes on people, turtling then dropping massive surprise armies on people's continents, and if you are lucky enough to survive late enough and tech up well, you can SUMMON TACTICAL BLACK HOLES!!! Alternatively, pissing enemies off whom have out teched you will result in a very depressing loss via having your cities obliterated by enemy black holes. Such is life in Pandora.

Cons:

It could use more music tracks and animations for leaders, and I'm sure they could afford like... Sir Patrick Stewart to do some voice overs for them.

Espionage is OP and defending against it can be frustrating. Surround your cities, and keep an eye on the events log to see when they are spotted. Espionage is getting re worked in a patch at some point, so I have heard.

Unit stack can be crippling. Being a veteran to 4x will help with this, but you can go half a game successfully and then have a very tragic loss via an insurmountable wall of enemies. In Pandora's defense, this is counterable by having good intel and making sure your armies are diverse enough. Also, orbital bombardment via satellite and artillery units are good counters to this.

The AI is dumb in the water. They will leave unit stacks in the water while moving troops, and this leaves them very vulnerable. Much similar to Civ 5.

Diplomacy could be more diverse and useful.

The AI likes to plant cities in your territory if you don't fill gaps between your cities. This is VERY frustrating, but again hopefully getting patched.

The Messari invasion will kill you until you learn to prepare for it. This, again, is getting patched (they need to either make it later or have a difficulty setting specifically for it). Preparing for it mean covering your territory, and having a diverse (and not small) army and enough production to continually resupply yourself with troops.

This is way too long of a review I need to stop typing. 9/10!
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4 of 4 people (100%) found this review helpful
6.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 17
I will preface this by saying that the game has promise. However, that promise does not compensate for Pandora's failings.

Pros:
1. The game world is beautiful and interesting to look at.
2. There is a randomized tech tree that jumbles up the techs. This allows replayability as no two games will have the same tech trees.

Cons:
1. Because the tech tree is randomized, the randomness could seriously gimp a game as there are a lot of inferior techs in Pandora. Sometimes the player will have a lot of great techs on the way up the tree until the tech they are trying to attain. However, sometimes that same tech will have completely inferior precursors. It's all luck... which can screw with gameplay.
2. Native life: This ruins the game. First, even though a player may have alien life aggression set to very rarely, built the Xenobiology project (-25% alien aggression), did not attack one of the aliens at all, and are the Gaian faction (even more alien aggression reduction), random event of increased alien aggression overrides it all and they will attack. It's completely ludicrous and needs to be removed from the game.
3. The AI is oversimplistic. Essentially, military power = godhood. That's the only thing they look at. If the player has more power than the AI, then they're friendly. If the player has less, then they become more demanding. This functions mainly with the military and faith-based faction which are far mor warmongering. However, it's still within the rest of the factions' coding and if the player loses a lot of military power from, lets say the ludicrous alien swarm random event, then even the most peaceful factions (Gaian) will start demanding or declaring war. It's bad game design.
4. The spying in this game is completely broken. First, there's no inherent city defense against spy units. So, a player has to actively keep military units in either chokepoints or totally around a city to prevent spies from even touching the city. Second, they are extremely overpowered in what they can do. Steal or destroy a majority if not all of a faction's credits and research, cause massive unrest, destroy buildings and production, and even set off nukes. The only contributing factor is the percentage chance the spy will succeed in the specific sabotage which is dictated by their veterancy. It's completely broken.
5. From what I've read, everything I listed above will not be fixed by the devs as the devs have already moved on to other projects. So sad as if the problems would be fixed, then the game would be a lot better.

It's a mess and I would avoid it in it's current form.
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6 of 8 people (75%) found this review helpful
9.7 hrs on record
Posted: October 1, 2014
The game has a lot of potential, however the AI seems to have a mind of it own and your strongest and most trustworthy ally can turn against you in one turn.
Resource production on each city seems to do whatever it likes, no matter how many times you change it to suit your current needs...I believe its default setting is STARVATION!
I do enjoy the game, it reminds me of the fun i used to have back in the days of CIV 2 and Alpha Centauri (CIV 2 was my first CIV game and therefore new and exciting at the time).

I hope the few problems this game has are ironed out soon as I do thoroughly enjoy it...I just hope it doesn't get overshadowed by its already popular rival CIV: Beyond Earth.

I believe this game will miss out on many sales due to the imminent release of CIV:BE and it's asking price (almost that of its formidable and (normally) brilliant rival).

It's hard to say if it's worth the money at the moment, as there are many good aspects of the game; Unfortunately the diplomatic and economic aspects of the game are nowhere near the grade you'd expect.

I'll probably play this until I buy CIV: BE (probably next payday)... I doubt I'll play much after though.
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3 of 3 people (100%) found this review helpful
22.9 hrs on record
Posted: December 5, 2014
It is difficult not to compare this game with "Civilization: Beyond the Earth", so I will not even try. So I just recommend to perceive this game as a "better Civilization from less well-known developer."

This game is much more logical. Its economy is more advanced and deep. This game allows you to take a much more strategic and tactical decisions, which are generally have much greater impact on gameplay. Even interface is much better and practical (although the graphic style I do not quite like).

Excellent buy. One of the best games that I bought in the past few years.
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