"You are outgunned. You are massively outnumbered. You must win." These are your orders. Humanity has already fought its war against the machines -- and lost. AI death squads stand watch over every planet and every wormhole, the few remaining human settlements are held captive in orbiting bubbles, and the AIs have turned their...
User reviews: Very Positive (541 reviews)
Release Date: Oct 21, 2009

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Buy AI War Bundle (2014)

Includes 7 items: AI War: Ancient Shadows, AI War: Children of Neinzul, AI War: Destroyer of Worlds, AI War: Fleet Command, AI War: Light of the Spire, AI War: The Zenith Remnant, AI War: Vengeance Of The Machine

 

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"Huge Indie strategy game with tens of thousands of units and plenty of options for any armchair general. Lovely game and great developer."

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January 6

ArcenGames Sale on GamersGate - Up to 80% off Through Jan 11th


[/url]AI War Facebook page
Arcen Games' Facebook page
Our community forums[/i]
Report bugs and suggestions on MantisBT
AI War web IRC / irc.appliedirc.com / #aiwar

Most of Arcen's titles are on promotion over at GamersGate with heavy discounts; you can find them all with this search term! GamersGate does provide serials that can be registered on the Steam platform too, and as usual with games by Arcen, they can also be ran standalone.

Thanks to Vivisector 9999 for the heads up. ː8bitheartː

AI War 2014 Collection (up to Vengeance of the Machine): $3.40 USD
AI War: $2.00
Any single expansion: $1.00
Children of Neinzul: $0.40

Skyward Collapse Collection: $1.40
Bionic Dues: $2.00
Shattered Haven: $2.00
A Valley Without Wind 1 & 2 and soundtrack: $4.00





The *NEW* Winter 2014 AI War Sortie Bulletin topic at the community hub is a place to find other players.

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January 6

AI War Official 8.020-8.021 - fatal error in gc fix


[/url]AI War Facebook page
Arcen Games' Facebook page
Our community forums[/i]
Report bugs and suggestions on MantisBT
AI War web IRC / irc.appliedirc.com / #aiwar

Changelog may be found here

This update fixes the "fatal error in gc" problem introduced from last night's 8.020 update which implemented asynchronous disk calls for users with multiple network adapters afflicted with slow loading speed.

The *NEW* Winter 2014 AI War Sortie Bulletin topic at the community hub is a place to find other players.

1 comments Read more

Reviews

"AI War breaks most of the genre’s rules. Which is precisely why it’s incredible… This out-of-the-blue one-man passion project is one of this year’s finest strategy games."
- Alec Meer, PC Gamer UK, November 2009

It’s a balancing act, with your own strength on one side, and the AI’s opinion of you on the other. Piss it off before you’re ready to face it, and you’re going to get squashed. That moment, when you’re finally in a position to turn the tables, is about as glorious as gaming gets.
- Phill Cameron, Eurogamer, February 2011

I think I’ve stumbled across this year’s Really New Thing. There’s a lot of 2009 to go, but I’ll be surprised if anyone else twists the RTS formula this dramatically and this effectively. And I’m hoping it’ll be the Next Big Thing, because it’s big, different, entirely unprecedented and an exciting way to play an RTS.
- Tom Chick, Crispy Gamer, August 2009

Having played this title at two distinct points in its life cycle what really stands out is the incredible dedication of Arcen Games in keeping on top of how the game evolves and expands. Even though a great many features have been added and tweaked and refined, it was possible for me to drop back into AI War after more than a year away and not find it to be a confusing mish-mash of feature overload. The post-release support is, quite honestly, the best I’ve seen for any game.
- Peter Parrish, IncGamers, February 2011

AI War is, quite simply, the best experience you could have with co-op or single-player real-time strategy in this or any year. It combines grand strategy with emergent AI to form an excellent game perfect for parties and multiplayer. It is easily worth double the price that the developer is selling it at, and anyone with any affinity or taste for strategy games should not miss it. It may be daunting at first, but an excellent tutorial and amazing gameplay mechanics alleviate this into a game that almost anyone can - and should - play.
- James Murff, Big Download, November 2009

About This Game

"You are outgunned. You are massively outnumbered. You must win." These are your orders.

Humanity has already fought its war against the machines -- and lost. AI death squads stand watch over every planet and every wormhole, the few remaining human settlements are held captive in orbiting bubbles, and the AIs have turned their attention outward, away from the galaxy, to alien threats or opportunities unknown.

This inattention is our only hope: a small resistance, too insignificant even to be noticed by the AI central command, has survived. These are the forces you will command. The AI subcommanders will fight you to the death when they see you -- but your glimmer of opportunity comes from quietly subduing those subcommanders without alerting central processing to the danger until it's too late.

You do have a few things going in your favor. Your ships are much faster. You have safe AI routines to automate defenses and mining outposts. You have production techniques that can churn out fully-outfitted unmanned fighters in seconds. There will never be more than a few thousand of your ships versus tens of thousands of theirs, but through careful strategy you must somehow reach and destroy the heavily-guarded AI cores.

Go forth into the galaxy, steal AI technology, recapture those planets you must in order to achieve your ends, and save what remains of humanity. But draw too much attention to yourself, and the full might of the AI overlords will come crashing down.

System Requirements

Windows
Mac OS X
SteamOS + Linux
    • OS: Windows XP SP2 or later
    • Processor: 1.6Ghz CPU (2.4 Ghz recommended, Dual Core strongly recommended for Host)
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Graphics card must support 1024x1024 textures (most 32MB and up graphics cards do), 1024x768 or greater (32 bit color recommended)
    • Hard Drive: 300MB
    • Multiplayer: Broadband Internet Connection or LAN required for multiplayer.
    • OS: Mac OSX Intel CPU and "Leopard" 10.5 or later.
    • Processor: 1.6Ghz CPU (2.4 Ghz recommended, Dual Core strongly recommended for Host)
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Graphics card must support 1024x1024 textures (most 32MB and up graphics cards do), 1024x768 or greater (32 bit color recommended)
    • Hard Drive: 300MB
    • Multiplayer: Broadband Internet Connection or LAN required for multiplayer.
    • OS: Ubuntu 10.10 or later, although other unsupported distros may very well work
    • Processor: 1.6Ghz CPU (2.4 Ghz recommended, Dual Core strongly recommended for Host)
    • Memory: 2 GB RAM
    • Graphics: Graphics card must support 1024x1024 textures (most 32MB and up graphics cards do), 1024x768 or greater (32 bit color recommended)
    • Hard Drive: 300MB
    • Multiplayer: Broadband Internet Connection or LAN required for multiplayer.
Helpful customer reviews
44 of 47 people (94%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
494.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 26, 2014
I love this game. It is without a doubt my favorite game on Steam. Just look at how many hours I've played, that's got to say something (like I should go get a life). Seriously though, the game is great. I have it, and I've bought about 6 other copies of the game for my friends because I believe in this one so much. Yes, I know the graphics seem backwards and uninspiring, but you'll learn as you play this game that it's actually better this way. Look past the graphics and into the mind of a monsterous AI.

This game is going to have a VERY steep learning curve at first. Once you get through the basic commands on how to move ships around, set up build queues, and construct your fleet, the game really opens up to you. You're going to find that this game will challenge your strategic and tactical thinking. If you think you're good at RTS games, this will push you to the limit. Do you think there isn't an RTS that can challenge you anymore? This one can and will. Are you just plain crazy, play it on the max dificulty, it's a bug if you can beat it.

There are a ton of units for this game, and I strongly recommend getting all the DLC. With the whole set you've got nearly unlimited different kinds of games. You'll find unit combinations that will fit your play style no matter what style that happens to be.

The AI is one of the most interesting things in this game. It will surprise you countless times. Just when you think you've figure it out, it'll show you a new trick. Look how much I've play this, it's still showing me surprises. The game still have times when it feels fresh to me. It's amazing that you can dive so deeply into a game and still find things.

I'll shut up now and let you buy this game. Play it.
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46 of 56 people (82%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
164.6 hrs on record
Posted: October 28, 2014
I have played this game since before it was in beta and well before it hit steam. I think it should be mentioned that the games expansions make the game infinity more difficult to get started in the game. I had the luxury of having expansions added one at a time, having all 6 expansions available as a bundle sounds amazing, and is a great deal, but will make the game more difficult to understand at first.

I also started playing the game well before a tutorial was added [insert comment about "kids these days..."]
One of my favorite games I’ve found and has provided me with more enjoyment then almost any other game.
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25 of 28 people (89%) found this review helpful
183.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 21, 2014
I may be a little biased in that I liked this game even before I played it. When I first purchased AI war, it was on the Arcen Games site and they sent a little email about how they don't believe in DRM, and therefore I could always play using my key, and if I lost my key, simply contact them.

I then purchased this again on steam at a completely reasonable price. I like having my games consolidated in one place and this game was worth it.

I really can't say enough about how good this game is. I doubt even the folks with negative reviews would say absolutely do not buy it. Onto the game:

- great AI that you can tweak any way you like. Arcen even goes so far as to explain why the AI works the way it does and makes a plausible (sci-fi) argument about it.
- vast array of ships for research
- a million different galaxies all seeded with their own unique resources
- Arcen keeps upgrading the game mostly for free, but each expansion is very well priced
- statistics about each game are very in depth providing great feedback

I've read the negative reviews and the main arguments are graphics and UI. Personally, I'm impressed with the UI. Every single element is customizable. You can change any key, and there's a menu with auto management choices that make things easy for you. There are about 4 keys you can click while mouse clicking to make your ships behave differently and it's simple.

The graphics are not excellent, but it's a compromise between performance and graphics. This game will work on older systems, there are no glitches, it doesn't require high-end cards, yet it works even during battles with thousands of ships.
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25 of 28 people (89%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
1.6 hrs on record
Posted: November 6, 2014
This game would be great if they introduced me into it in a way that made me want to play. Instead, even before getting to the tutorial, I am met with a screen full of options and game choices, with tutorials tucked away in the corner. If you decide to sit through the lengthly introductions, you may find yourself enjoying the game. I found the multi leveled view to be hard to adjust to when jumping right into the game, even with experience from other space RTS games.

If you want a space RTS that isn't like others, this could be your new favorite game. If you're looking for something to jump right into, look elsewhere! Time investment needed.
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18 of 20 people (90%) found this review helpful
212.8 hrs on record
Posted: October 4, 2014
A very fun game, with a customizable play experiance and tactics that go from a shallow "Wave on wave of 'splosions approach to deep, twenty-hours ahead strategy. The graphics are sometimes a bit simplistic, but you can get some beautiful visuals during intense fleet battles, and its performance footprint can get pretty small.

Best of all, though it has a LOT of expansions, you don't really need them to get the best of the game. They add new ships and side functions, sure, but every balance pass and gameplay tweak is applied to the base game, and it even gets some full out new content from time to time. I'd definately say pick this up, since if you like slower paced strategy games, some configuration of it is almost certain to be your cup of tea.
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15 of 16 people (94%) found this review helpful
50.7 hrs on record
Posted: December 17, 2014
Ai War is by far the most in depth RTS game I have ever played. The learning curve is rather steep but there are good resources on YouTube to help break the ice. The game seems completely and utterly overwhelming at first but once you sink your teeth into it you will find it quite rewarding. It can be an extremelly challenging game and isn't exactly a casual experience. When you play the game your brain feels fully invested in the task that lies before you. Learning essential hotkeys is key to reduce micromanagement which I find the trickiest part of the game. As you get deeper into the game and play on bigger maps you will need to manage your forces and strategically place them in defensive and offensive positions. I found it difficult to do this and have a tendency to just cluster all my ships in one big wolf pack. Game knowledge and micromanagement are keys to mastering Ai War.

Definitely an underrated gem and one of the most beautifully made RTS games I've ever played. Definitely recommend this game if you are are looking for a challenging and rewarding RTS game to add to your library. The soundtrack is very, very good too.
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21 of 27 people (78%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
22.3 hrs on record
Posted: November 19, 2014
22 hours in, still haven't finished my first game.
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14 of 15 people (93%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
53.5 hrs on record
Posted: January 4
P1: "Wait, why are there nukes at my homebase?"
P2: "Yeah, I built them. Just in case."
P3: "You what?"
P1: "But why MY homebase?"
P2: "You do protect it, right?"
P3: "You do know about AI progress and nukes?"
P2: "YOLO!"

Just because people say it's not worth it doesn't mean you cannot at least try.. ;)

This is an epic game with countless possibilities. Especially great with friends. It's not your usual 4X title. The A.I. is relentless and challenging.
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13 of 14 people (93%) found this review helpful
365.2 hrs on record
Posted: December 21, 2014
An RTS which is infinitely replayable. I will be the first to say that the controls and interface is very very hard to learn. Trying to explain it to friends and getting them into the game has been one of the most frustrating things about this game as the myriad of commands available and things to do overwhelm new players. However, if you can get past the first 30 hours of the game stumbling around clueless, you'll find an extremely sophisticated strategy game in here.

Trying out various strategies, seeing how the AI responds, thinking you've got the upper hand. This game is a combination of puzzle, tower defense, resource management, grand strategy, and awesomeness. AI War is frequently on sale, and it is the most played game on my Steam account for a reason. The developers are great, and they're always pushing out new content. A must buy for anyone who loves strategy games.
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10 of 13 people (77%) found this review helpful
121.5 hrs on record
Posted: November 26, 2014
This game is hard! Dying is a good thing!
On a serious note if you have the patience to learn the game, its absolutely incredible. The games last a fair while and the AI is forever harassing you at every turn.
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7 of 8 people (88%) found this review helpful
181.7 hrs on record
Posted: February 4
Ai War: Fleet Command feels like playing chess - without knowing all the moves, and with a cheating opponent.

First off, the opponent doesn't really cheat, but it feels that way to a new player. The learning curve is extremely steep, which means you will probably only lose for the first few dozen hours of playing - unless you choose one of the very easy difficulties.

The main problem most people will have is the completely different playstyle. Yes, it is an RTS, it looks and even plays as a classic RTS, yet when you go out from your home planet lasers blazing, burning and capturing new resources, you will lose. Always. How discouraging, right?

The reason to this is asymetry. Your opponent does not share your options. He does not build, he has everything. You on the other hand have but a single planet. Why not crush you in an instant? Cause he doesn't care, you're not important enough to be crushed. However if you blow up a few planets of his.. he might as well decide it's time for the human remnant to die.

All this said, the game *punishes* you for capturing important assets - planets, technology, etc. Each time you do such an action, the ai gets more aware of your "threat", which will mean stronger and more frequent attacks. From now till the end of game.

In conlcusion, there seems to be two games hidden under this title:
First, a guerilla war, in which the player gathers strength and tries to avoid antagonizing the enemy too much in fear of brutal retaliation.
Second, the glorious moment when the carefully prepared guerilla finally decides to go on par with the ai and fight a full on war - no more hiding.

Replayability: High, assuming you don't mind defeat. There are plenty of ai structures, and only some of them are used on each map. Throughout the expansions, a lot more has arrived to make the game entertaining and keep the player busy.

Multiplayer: Brilliant. The player slots can be changed on the fly by the game host. Playing a single player game and having a friend who wants to join? No problem, open a slot for him, give him a planet and you're playing within seconds. He's leaving again? No big deal, just close his slot, grab his units and go on with your game.

You probably don't want to play this if:
- You dislike frequent losing
- You dislike slow-paced games
- You dislike games with a steep learning curve
- You dislike constantly analysing the situation and like to just order your units to go and pillage instead.

You probably want to try this if:
- You like complicated strategy games
- You like analysing the strategic situation a lot
- You like slow-paced strategy games, in which fortifications actually work
- You are a hard-core strategy game player and like a challenge
- You like dwarf fortress and space strategy games
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4 of 5 people (80%) found this review helpful
133.8 hrs on record
Posted: February 5
A game i spent hundred of hours on and intend to spend more. It is a best mix of 4x, RTS and TD in existence imo. The attractive features are the automation surpassed only by Distant Worlds, complexity and simplicity both - the amount of features is enormous but they all interact in a simple "shoot each other to death" fashion. On lower difficulties it plays as a simple RTS - send units at enemy until he dies; on higher ones every game is a complex multi-layered dynamic puzzle which active pause feature helps to solve. The only mild disappointment with this game is a hard to find co-op which always results in ppl failing laughably or quitting. As devs said, "this is a game that will last you for some years". This is a game you cannot just "beat": theres always something more to try, AI will surprise sex you in all but most simplistic games and highest difficulties are impossible quite literally.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.8 hrs on record
Posted: March 19
This game is somewhat special. It is not about Conquering and general area control. It is almost exactly the opposite. It's about maximum Efficiency. And it is Hard.

Be prepared to loose the first real game. If you are not used to total surgical strikes and ignoring almost everything around you, prioritizing like hell and cutting out areas which you would like to strike, because something there would be nice to control - you will lose. Because it will become very hard to stop THE AI.

The game picked me off with a lot of tension. You are not allowed ever to relax your guard. The AI will ruthlessly counter any Unit build and Defense build you specialize in. (dont specialize - just Defend properly... ha - ha.) You relax your guard, you loose your Home Base. You loose your Home Base, you loose the game.

There are some tower defense elements, as far as i have seen yet, and i have not played by far enough to be able to tell if i simply overlooked some things. But if i played it correctly it is all about surgical strikes and not very much about classical tower defense. Only take what you need. THE AI will retaliate for everything you take. The more you take, the stronger the retaliation strike. It gets harder the closer you come to your goal, exterminating the Home System of the AI (or several AIs) but you will also be obliged to take some systems and make the AI mad at you - because the Home System is protected by Shield generators, and you need to take a planetary system from the AI to destroy the generators there...



Things you should not be afraid of:

Loosing after 8 hours of playing - by being overwhelmed by a supreme AI strike force
Struggling with your defenses and getting wiped by a single strike
Loosing out-of-nowhere, because "you forgot something"...
A game that gets even harder the closer you get to the Final moment of victory - if you ever reach it
stumbling across some new evil mechanic the AI throws at you, capable of bringing you into a tight spot
having a game (campaign) against the AI for more then 12 hours
not having a PVP mode (a player that would play the AI probably would realize the real thread and simply eradicate it - or be unable to manage the other tasks which the AI has - who knows what other tasks such an AI still has to do?)
playing in some kind of "Iron man"-mode - a lost campaign is a lost one. Deal with it. Go for a new one instead.

Nothing is more satisfiying then winning the final onslaught - after 14 hours of combat, defense, scouting and deep-striking. You will need the time. It can also go against your ego if you loose the game after 12 hours of combat... You CAN beat the game. If you beat it, you did not turn it hard enough. Make it harder, it becomes more fun and satisfiying.

I had a lot of fun as someone who loves hardcore-games. If you consider yourself a real hardcore-strategican, this game could be a challenge you are looking for. Easy to learn (as basic control and principles), hard to master (beat 2 AIs level 10, without modificators? Seriously as an achievement? Yeah, right.)
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
8.6 hrs on record
Posted: March 17
I came into AI War after a friend told me that it was the best hardcore game that year. At the very least, it's probably the best RTS of all time. It's procedurally generated, meaning that in order to win you have to learn the game instead of the map. It's huge and enemy aggression scales with yours, meaning that you have to plan ahead instead of attacking willy-nilly. And it's deep enough that 500 hour veterans find surprises. Ongoing development and a lively expansion schedule mean that the game can be completely different from update to update.

AI War is intimidating, difficult, sometimes frustrating, but also fascinating and satisfying. If you want a challenge then I can't recommend it more.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
3.2 hrs on record
Posted: March 22
I recommend this game with a bit of a disclaimer: This is perhaps the ugliest game I have ever seen. Now that I've got the elephant in the room out of the way, AI Wars is a refreshing, unique, and a paragon of everything an RTS should hope to be. I'm not going to dwell too long on all its strengths because the gameplay is extraordinarily solid and I feel there's very little I can say that's more concise or accurate than what others have already said. Just know that it's you or some friends versus an opponent who can crush you at any time: the goal is to accomplish your objectives without drawing too much attention to yourself. A novel core mechanic to an industry over-saturated with Starcraft.
Among the game's multitude of positives, I think it's worth to note that it has incredible support from its developers, who continue to release expansions and patches five years (I think) after its release date. In an age where many devs abandon early access titles half way and released half-baked "full games" to fend for themselves, it's good to see one company that clearly opperates by a different set of values.
But none of this changes the fact that the game is pug ugly. If you can stomach that and are an RTS fan, I can't recommend this game enough.
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2 of 2 people (100%) found this review helpful
2 people found this review funny
16.6 hrs on record
Posted: March 28
So.. I started a game to test the enemy AI, with each of the game's two AI opponents set to the 'Entrenched Homeworlder' preset and 10/10 difficulty (10/10, out of a possible 17 settings)

To "make things fair" I gave myself a +300% boost to resources and limited the technology available for the round (no starships, no shields, couple other things..)

The "match" lasted 6:12.

Six minutes for me to set up my base.. I built a bank of 15 sniper turrets, and two semi-crescents of laser turrets, and piled minefields around the two warp points in my home system (and lightly along the path I was sure the devils would cut straight towards my base, as well..).

I crafted a fleet of 200 ships, 50 of each available at the time. Set up tachyon drones and reinforced my swarm of engineers.. I created a Mobile Builder in case tragedy happened, and was just about to waste time setting up tractor beam turrets when they arrived.

The ship types didn't matter. Nothing mattered.

135 mixed enemy ships showed up and tore through the minefields like they weren't there. It killed some, but it wasn't enough. The spear of sea-foam green demons flew directly for my colony, shrugging off sniper and laser fire.. As my fleet approached, they simply drove through them.

They didn't want the fleet.

They took two things, in that 12 seconds: my home colony (which earns you a pleasantly red text stating YOU HAVE LOST!), and my energy supply (throwing my entire setup into electrical brown-out).

Then they turned and left. I was reminded of an assassin, gently dispatching their hapless and hopeless victim with grace and ease, silent.. and leaving, without fanfare.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
0.9 hrs on record
Posted: November 8, 2014
Honestly, I was pretty skeptical at first. As I started getting the hang of the game it just got more intersting. Obviously someone put a lot of time into making this game.

When i first looked at the game once i came in I was pretty intimidated, but the game is easier to grasp than looks.
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3 of 4 people (75%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
34.0 hrs on record
Posted: January 14
An good strategy game.
Unique on itself.
And it gives mermories of old days.
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5 of 8 people (63%) found this review helpful
1 person found this review funny
80.5 hrs on record
Posted: December 25, 2014

Wonderful game with regular updates that further improves gameplay.

On the positive side:
+ Unique setting. You are rebuilding, while the A.I. slumbers, awake it took quickly and it will strike you down in no time, advamce too slowly, and you will find yourself stuck in a meat(ship)grinder you can't win
+ Unique ways to play. Be a classic fleet/base mannager, building defense, fleets and advance technology, or as a powerful single champion that grows in size and number of modules (which can be rebuildt and upgrades to suit your preferances and the situation) or do both at the same time.
+ countless different maps in various sizes and shapes
+ tons of options to make each game unique. Including friendly, neutral and hostile factions that can be set to impact the game to various degrees. Slubering superweapons you can repair, neutral traders that allows you (and the A.I.) to build unique and powerful buildings, and much MUCH more.
+ several ways of winning the game, destory the A.I. Homeword, enlist the aid of a spire splinter faction, that will grow under your care and become the key to destorying the A.i. forever, track down the fabled Exodian Blade in order to use its power to turn the tide and much more
+ two way of playing a champion, go on side mission in sealed section of the map and win to gain new moduls and EXP or Advance as your allies improves technology and captures advanced facilities (i recommend the latter)
+ Many different A.I. settings as well as A.I. Plots that can change the game
+ Maybe unqiue ships that are radically different where you can start with one and unlock more as you capture them from the A.I.
+ streamlined system that puts focus on strategy rather on micro mannagement.
+ Awesome multiplayer game

Negative:
- not perticular fun as a single player game
- getting to multiplayer with random people on the net is chore
- certain balance issues between the unique ships (NEVER let the A.I. get a ship that shoots through shields, as you risk getting your home base fried)
- champion -while powerful- quickly becomes more of a vanguard/assassin/support/kite, as a fleet can kill it in seconds. (even though it is useful to shield another player's mainbase with your own shields and drop more shield, allowing for you to save it from certain death)
- no real PvP


All in all a solid game.
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2 of 3 people (67%) found this review helpful
1.8 hrs on record
Posted: December 9, 2014
They put so much effort into building the strategy side of things that there literally is no plot or immersion. For example, there are moments in the tutorial which state (in summary), "Some aspects of the AI are faked because it's more interesting to play that way." Ok, fine, but you don't need to tell the player that - a thin veil would have helped me get invested.

However, having played for a few hours, I now believe that this is part of the aesthetic. You are not in space in this game, much as you are not on a battlefield when playing chess. When you're playing this game, you are purely a human sitting in your chair fighting an AI which doesn't pretend to be "another player like yourself" -- it is a computer program, designed to destroy you, and it will. It knows what to expect from you, and will therefore not simply overwhelm you because that is an inefficient strategy; it's far more efficient to lure you in and allow your confidence to betray you.

The final stage of the tutorial is a guided "live fire" scenario, and as of this writing I've failed both times I attempted it. The first was perhaps because I was moving slowly while trying to learn the mechanics, but on the second try I seriously thought I was on the verge of victory when the AI pirouetted and demolished my entire fleet in minutes. I can't wait to see what tricks it has up it's sleeve in a real scenario.
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