Jul 1, 2013

Preplay : Galactic Civilizations I : Ultimate edition

Two months ago, steamgifts user UselessB gifted me Galactic Civilizations I : Ultimate Edition. (GCIUE) As a way of thanking him I gave the game a high spot on my backlog. GCIUE was released in 2012 and includes Galactic Civilizations I (2003) and the Altarian Prophecy expansion pack (2004). The 2003 release of Galactic Civilizations was in its turn a Windows port of the in 1994 released Galactic Civilizations by Stardock. So despite its 2012 release, the game I'm about to play is actually quite old.

This tells me several things. For starters I'll probably need some time adjusting to old game play and graphics as is often the case with older games. But more importantly it tells me that this is a game that must have a dedicated fan base. Porting a 9 year old game to a new system is one thing, but rereleasing that same game another 8 years later implies that this game has a special place in someone's heart.

I have never played GCIUE though, nor had I ever heard of it before receiving it from UselessB. A little bit of research made it clear that this is an RTS, something that I already suspected. Another thing that was quite obvious from the title is that this game is set in space.
For certain people that combination would be an instant win but I'm not one of those people. Although I played some RTS games over the years, I never really got to the bottom of any of them and I wouldn't consider myself an RTS enthusiast.
As for the setting,  I've seen the Star Wars movies and I've dabbled in the Star Trek universe but space fantasy never really did it for me until I played the first Mass Effect. So setting a piece of entertainment in space isn't necessarily a selling point for me.

What did catch my attention while researching this game was the praise the AI of this game got. Apparently GCIUE's AI is its most noteworthy feature because the computer players play surprisingly realistic and intelligent. I'm curious if I will notice any of this or if by now the bar of AI systems has been raised too much for this one to remain exceptional.

So where does that leave my expectations? I'm already sure that this game is a gem within its genre if fans have been supporting it for nearly two decades. I'm afraid that this relatively high age might get in the way for new players though and I'm hoping that Stardock has made some changes to the interface in order to make it more compliant with current industry standards. Even if they did I'm not sure if it will be enough to make me like the game. RTS games aren't part of my comfort zone and this game will have to be really good if it wants to win me over.


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