Comic Book Curious

Games Worth Playing: Master Of Orion 2

August 16, 2021

There are thousands of video games out there; some classics, some obscure, and others new to me and maybe new to you too. I’m going to take a little time to highlight what’s great about games that I love and want to share; games that are worth your time, along with some tips to get you started.

Master of Orion 2: PC

While this game is well over 20 years old, Master of Orion 2 is an excellent crossover between civilization in space, where you colonize planets and expand your territory, and chess like tactical space combat against 1 to 7 other players, this includes your friends!

The cover of Masters Of Orion 2

Credit: MicroProse

Unlike in the civilization games, the alien species you can choose all have wildly different abilities. Some breathe water, others never need food and eat rocks, and yes you can play as humans with their weird ideas about voting and democracy. You can even customize your own race and make telepathic cyborgs that love farming!

The alien race choice screen

Credit: Games Nostalgia/MicroProse

Unlike most other games that are like Civilization, not every alien species can and will research the same technology. This puts an emphasis on spying, trade/diplomacy, or being a pirate and capturing enemy ships to reverse engineer them. There is such a variety in how you play and even how you win.

You can get elected the leader of the galaxy, you can open a dimensional gateway to another universe and defeat the bad aliens that keep invading or conquer everyone and rule with an iron fist. You can even turn the “invaded by aliens from another dimension” option off entirely!

Combat is very chess like, meaning you can take your time and think about what you’re going to do. Ship building is fun and intuitive and not overly complex and includes a variety of weapons and special options, but it’s never overwhelming. If you really want, you can automate this process.

A screenshot of ship to ship combat

Credit: MicroProse

Master of Orion (the series) is usually sold on Steam or Good Old Games, but the second one in the series is the standout. Don’t worry about being lost, the opening cutscene of 2 fills you in on what you’re supposed to be doing. Master of Orion 1 is the same as Master of Orion 2, but worse. The graphics are nearly incomprehensible, the pace is odd, and the game plays poorly. Master of Orion 3 is a massive micromanagement mess. Oh, your ability to mine increased by .4%! Uh, great? I put maybe 60 hours into that one and never beat it because it just takes forever and is SO SLOW.

My advice, if you’re looking for a cool, not overly complex space game, Master of Orion 2 can’t be beat.

The main screen of the game

Credit: MicroProse

Some quick tips to get you started:

1: Keep your galaxy size on the smallest or second smallest size. Large and huge make the game take way too long and you get lost in micromanagement. There is an auto build button, but it still becomes just a slog at the end.

The new game screen with setting options

Credit: MicroProse

2: Start at the bottom of the tech tree, the most basic. Technology will save your bacon and you don't want the computer randomly picking anti-missile rockets (that can be replaced with nearly any weapon that can also hit fighters) when you could have a reinforced hull that makes your ship 3 times harder to kill.

3: Build your own ships; don't have the computer do that. First, it's a big part of the fun of the game. Second, the computer will usually put a little bit of everything on your ship so rather than having a race car AND an 18-wheeler truck, you get a mix of both if you let the computer do it. That might not be bad but it's like a minivan: popular, sure, but not winning any races if that's what you are trying to do. Auto battle usually comes down to math, but again, why skip the combat in a space combat game?

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