Hello everybody! Been a busy week here at Universal Gaming Reviews and we hope you’ve enjoyed your week. Shaun Meyers (Kyo Akiara) here to bring you our latest Overview of Sword of the Stars II Enhanced Edition! There will also be a special giveaway of the game today that will take place over the next 3 days starting the moment the article is published and one lucky person will be able to get a free copy of the game!
Sword of the Stars II Enhanced Edition, created by Kerberos Productions and published by Paradox Interactive, is a 4X space turn-based strategy game set in the far future with many unique alien species. The game plays similarly to a lot of 4X strategy games where your goals are to expand, explore, exploit and exterminate. The Civilization series is an easy comparison to this type of strategy game and Sword of the Stars II plays similarly but is more in-depth and takes place in space.
When starting the game you’ll probably be looking to start a single player game first to learn the basics of the game, this is actually recommended as the game is incredibly in-depth and there’s a lot to learn. There is no tutorial however, so there is a bit of a steep learning curve if you’ve never played the series of games before, but this overview should help get an understanding of each feature in the game. The create a game option allows you to start setting up a new single player game and features a wide range of options for creating one. The create a game window is broken up into various sections, the left sidebar allows you to choose the type of galaxy you wish to play in, There are 27 galaxy maps to choose from including, disc, archipelago, ring and spiral to name a few of them. Each map has a certain number of players that can play on, duel maps can house 2 players on a map and big disc can house up to 8 players for example. The left sidebar also includes the option to play scenario missions as well. The bottom menu of the game creation screen allows you to set up a galaxy’s features, this includes overall planet size, a planet’s resources, strategic turn time, combat turn time, economic efficiency, research efficieny, number of players, amount of starting systems, the amount of starting technologies, starting money, amount of random encounters and grand menaces in each map. Now that you’ve chosen your game setup it’s on to the faction setup screen, this is where you’ll be choosing your species and colors. There are 13 factions in total, including the DLC factions that are included in the enhanced edition of the game, the DLC factions are immersion type re-skins of the original factions except the LOA faction that was added in the End of Flesh expansion pack which is also included in the enhanced edition of the game. Each faction has its own unique look and ship designs ranging from the machine like LOA Collective faction to the squid like Liir-Zuul Alliance. You will also be able to choose your faction avatar, badge and enemy AI difficulty in this window.
Now that you’ve decided on what type of game you wish to play and what faction you’d like to play as it’s finally time to start the game! Once in the game you may feel a little intimidated by the amount of stuff going on or you might feel the game is a bit basic but don’t let the game fool you, it’s quite in-depth and addicting once you get going. The UI is broken up into various sections, the top left screen house the windows you will be using most throughout the game. The top section shows how much money you currently have in your treasury and your government/research ratio. The bottom buttons are where most of the game will be player, there’s a lot of management to be had in the game, bot I’ll be taking you through each function of the menus. The first menu you’ll see is the research window, like all 4X strategy games you will be doing a lot of technology research, when you click on this window you will be taken to a separate screen housing a large amount of technologies ranging from energy weapons and terraforming improvements to armor plating and diplomacy improvements. Anything you’ve already researched will be highlighted in green and techs that haven’t been researched are in red, some of them may not be immediately researchable and you much research it’s feasibility first to make sure it’s possible for your species to manufacture it. There are 15 tech trees in all with very different abilities and upgrades for each and you’re not limited to choosing one type of tech tree at a time, you’re free to research any of them at any time, except the ones that require you to learn the branches before it of course. The tech tree screen also allows you to choose how many resources you wish to pool into your research, you can choose to pool it all into your current project, special projects or salvage research, you can also choose to make them all equal or focus mostly on your current project and a little bit on the other two. The next window you will come upon is one of the most important in the game, the design ships menu. This menu allows you to fully customize and build your own ships to use throughout the game and building new ships is key the further you get in the game and the most ship upgrades you unlock. The left side bar allows you to view all your current ship designs, when you click on a specific ship in this window it will bring up the edit options for that specific type of ship. When editing a ship you’ll notice three separate windows in the top center of your screen above the ship, this is where you can choose the cockpit, body and tail of your current ship and each of the different parts have different armor, shields and structure ratings, for example an armor class ship should have a high armor rating to help defend your weaker ships. There are 6 classes of cruisers for you to edit at first and each have their own functions and abilities in the game world. The Colonizer for example allows you to colonize planets and the scout ships allow you to survey other star systems easier. All fleets in your control however need a command ship in order to be able to control them. When editing a ship you can also choose to add various techs to the ship itself like upgraded shielding techs that you’ve researched and new weapon systems. You will also notice various icons and little buttons around your ship when editing as well, these buttons allow you to change the weapon and supply modules on your ships. There are a wode variety of weapons to research and add to your ships and this increases their damage, but also increases their production and construction costs so, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your current ship construction fees and your total capital. The ship building area also features a weapons testing room to allow you test out any of the weapons you currently added to your ship to make sure you like it, this is also great for testing out your ships armor plating and shielding as well by firing missiles at your ship. The next window is the diplomacy menu, this is where you will be able to interact with any of the other species that you’ve met throughout your game. You’ll be able to set up trade routes for supplies, trade technologies, declare war or even setup peace treaties with other galactic nations. The diplomacy window also shows the independent factions that you’ve met in your quest to dominate the galaxy! The next menu on the list is the station manager, this is where you can find all the information on the space stations currently built within your controlled solar systems. You are also able to upgrade these space stations using your construction ships, there are also various upgrades that you can purchase that will help improve the station itself, for example, your naval yards can be upgraded in their repair ability to make it easier to repair ships. Next is the population manager window, this is where you can manage how much of a population you’d like on a planet, increasing a population does have side effects however, you will drain a planet of its resources much quicker than a more stable population. The final windows are the fleet summary ,province editor and the encyclopedia menu, the fleet summary menu lists all of the fleets currently in your command and tells you their specific jobs, and other useful information. The province editor unlocks once you’ve unlocked 6 controlled star systems in the game and finally the encyclopedia is an immense book of knowledge about everything in the game.
Now that you know what each of the various menus do and how they work it’s time to move on to managing the planets in your control and how to move your ships around. Left clicking on a star will bring up a new window to the left of the screen, this window shows detailed information about that solar system, the planets in orbit around it, fleets currently in the system and also contains the options to enter build ship mode, fleet manager and the repair dialogue. You’re also able to view the system in a 3D plane by clicking the view system button on the top of the window. Right clicking on a star with open up a context menu that will allow you to perform various tasks in the game, ranging from surveying a new star system to building a new space station. Some options are locked at first however and all options but survey are locked on a star system you’ve yet to explore. Most of the movement is done indirectly when controlling your fleets, your only actions are to tell them where to go and they will head straight for the selected area over a set number of turns. Every action you take takes a certain amount of turns to complete, like any turn based strategy game, so the game does require quite a lot of patience but like many other turn based strategy games, the experience can be quite addicting if you let it be. Combat in the game however is done in real-time depending on where the battles take place, your space stations may join you in the battle for a system. Battle in the game however is inevitable as there are many independent factions that would like to see your faction destroyed and war will eventually break out between you and another major faction as well. Colonizing other worlds allows you to not only expand your territory in the ever-expanding universe, but also terraform a planet and make it a stable place for your colonists to live. It takes a few turns to finally setup a colony and you can choose to wait a few more turns to eliminate any climate hazards that may still be left after the first phase of support is finished, deciding to prolong support does have it’s hindrances however, it will take longer for you to be able to setup another colony in a different star system.
Well folks, that about covers most of the basics about the game and how most of the game works, anything else I’m sure you’ll learn as you go. Overall Sword of the Stars II Enhanced Edition probably isn’t for everyone, but big fans of strategy games, specifically 4X strategy games, would definitely love the game. I give Sword of the Stars II Enhanced Edition an 8 out of 10, a very in-depth and complex game that while it may not be perfect, and what game is, it still offers quite a lot of fun for those seeking it and I can say that I’ve enjoyed my time playing it and writing this review.
- OS:Windows 7 – 64 bit
- Processor:Core2 Duo or equivalent
- Memory:2 GB RAM
- Graphics:512-MB DirectX 10, Integrated graphics (laptops) are not supported
- Hard Drive:2 GB HD space
- Sound:Any Windows Vista compatible sound device, stereo speakers or head phones
- Additional:, DirectX February 2010 or newer (DX10). 3-button mouse and keyboard. Internet required for online play. LAN required for local multiplayer
Now on for the part most of you were waiting for, the giveaway!! One lucky winner will be able to play this great game on their own steam accounts because over the next 3 days the giveaway shall be running! I’ve decided to use Rafflecopter to make it fair for everyone that enters. Good Luck to everyone who enters and thanks as always for reading our reviews!
Shaun Meyers (Kyo Akiara) out!