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|Space_Empires_V will have tactical battles and multiplayer. I'm interested in both of these games, but haven't played either one yet. |
What are the benefits of each game?
SE5 isn't out yet, so who knows how it'll turn out? Graphically, it looks like it'll be quite an improvement over SE4 (which looked pretty bland). SE4 was an interesting game, so I'm looking forward to it.
GalCiv 2's advantages are mostly its AI/personality, which is excellent. Brad/Frogboy makes a big deal about GalCiv's AI, and it shows in the game...the diplomacy and the AI's ability to respond to situations is a league above MOO2 or SEIV (though those games have their own charms). Feedback is also good - if an AI empire likes/hates you, it's pretty easy to find out why. GalCiv 2 is definitely on top in that field.
The way you can customize your ship's look is a crowdpleaser, and I like the movies when you fight space battles (showing the ships you designed!), even if you can't do anything but watch. Unlike many space empire-type games, planets can also have more than one type of bonus, which is nice. I've always loved the random events and morality (I just wish they'd continue after researching Xeno Ethics, and that morality was affected by things other than random events). I also kinda like how the three weapon types have a rock/scissors/paper deal, although this also means they're pretty much the same. (In MOO2 or SE4, beams and missiles had unique advantages over each other...in GalCiv2, the only reason to pick one over another is to thwart what type of defense your enemy is using.) All the different victory types are nice, too.
The "infrastructure" of GalCiv 2 civilizations feel more realistic to me than most. In most games, you have your buildings/workers, and your money is an entirely different concern, disconnected from food/production/research. GalCiv 2 is the reverse - money is cultivated from your populations, and your buildings just determine how much production and research the money can get you. If you're not earning or spending anything, a whole planet full of factories won't help you. Thus, instead of specific buildings/workers, you're looking at budgets and allocation, which is how real leaders probably view their empire.
Finally, we also have to talk about support. GalCiv 2 is obviously very strong here, with designers continuing to update the game, and let's not forget the support for mods.
SE4 had its points too, though, most of which will probably carry over to SE5. Mod support was good here - all the game files used plain text, making things easy to modify.
SE4 had also tactical battles, which a lot of GalCiv 2 fans wish for. These battles weren't as polished in MOO2, but there was still a lot of strategy in designing ships. On top of basic weapons, engines, sensors, and range/supplies, there were computers, self-destruct, boarding marines, drones, fighters, satellites, and regeneration, on top of armor, point defense, and shields that all worked differently from each other. GalCiv 2 doesn't have these things, and I miss them.
The planets/star systems were also more interesting than most space games. SE4's systems actually resembled star systems, with asteroid belts, many different planets, and even surprises like nebula or black holes. The planets were also interesting...they had different types (rocky, iceball, gas giant) and atmospheres (hydrogen, oxygen, methane, none, etc). In GalCiv 2, a 20-point planet is great for everyone - human, yor, dread lord, whatever, they all like the same kind of environment. In SE4, a planet that's great for one race might suck for another, or be completely unusable. If your homeworld was rock/oxygen (like humans), you'd need a dome for a rock/hydrogen planet (sharply limiting how many facilities and population you can have there), and you couldn't colonize iceballs and gas giants at all. Interesting and realistic, IMO. In most empire games, you war against races to take their worlds, or keep them out of yours...here, if you're an iceball race, you might end up sharing systems with a gas giant race, since they're colonizing worlds you can't use anyway.
Speaking of races, SE4 race creation was interesting, too - there were the usual modifiers to production/research/weapons/whatever, but there was also the option to take unique tech trees that only your race can research - Organic Tech, Temporal, Psychic, Applied Religion, etc. I thought that was great. GalCiv 2 does a good job of giving races different personalities
, but SE4 gave them unique capabilities.
Unfortunately, that was counterbalanced by how SE4 really sucked at diplomacy - there were a lot of things you could offer or propose, but the AI had no personality at all compared to GalCiv 2, and there was no way of determining why it liked or hated you, or refused your offers. You could be at war with a race for years, and their attitude would still shift to "Warm" or whatever. The tactics were vastly inferior, too. On the average level, you could blockade a warp point with dozens of killer satellites, and they'd still try to send pansy frigates through and get slaughtered, turn after turn. Not that the AI couldn't put up a challenge, but you'd still get dumb shit like that. This whole area is definitely something I hope gets fixed in SE5.
So, in summary, both games had their own great points, depending on what you're in the mood for. If you want a colorful, excellent AI and more polish overall, play GalCiv. If you want more unique civilizations (or at least tech trees) and more realistic planets/systems, Space Empires.
EDIT: Fixed paragraphs.