AI War is a special game to me. To borrow a quote from Firefly:
"Live with a man 40 years. Share his house, his meals. Speak on every subject. Then tie him up, and hold him over the volcano's edge. And on that day, you will finally meet the man."
AI War lets you meet yourself. Some games you play until you can win, then you get bored. AI War is different. At difficulty 7 or below it's still challenging, easy to stumble on the long road to victory and not a sure thing. It'll take a while but you'll have a satisfying victory. But you won't stop there, once you can win the game then you'll feel free to turn up the heat. Walking through the labyrinth of options until, quite quickly, you find yourself standing on the volcano's edge, bound and tied by your own hands. But when you find yourself there it'll be with a smile on your face, saying quite happily: "Oh no! Oh no! Oh dear... I'm dead." And if you do manage to win at difficulty 10, it's a bug. Report it on the Arcen games forums... with pride.
Also, it has co-op multiplayer. So you can tie your friends up and hold them over the volcano's edge... though you'll probably both be a little singed. (Fighting Scorched Earth AI's and... Mimes! NB: Scorched earth destroys planets rather than letting you take control, never set both AI types to that if you want to win. Mimes mimic the ships you used against it, you'll think... “So what happens if I use...” and the answer: You die.)
Lastly, the developers are kind, polite and extraordinarily hard working. The game has evolved with constant developments for year after year after year. They read people's after action reports, watch the lets plays, answer questions on the forums and are just plain nice. Not a dull nice, but a sweet, genuine, sharp and creative nice... rather like shaving a birthday cake into a beard. Or sneaking into the office to digitise old files to save you time.
They've got a touch of magic, love and creativity that I want to watch, and I hope that other people will have a chance to see it too. So yeah, it's just a game, the graphics are a little dated and the learning curve is a little steep... it isn't really magic and it doesn't grant any wishes. But I like it. I'm glad I bought it. I hope you'll set aside a few hours and give it a solid try. Then some more hours when you drag a friend to play a co-op game.