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