Master of Orion II|
Reviewed by Cale
Master of Orion II is saddled with the same sort of baggage
many games of its genre: clunky interface and distinct lack
of originality. I will touch more on the interface issues
later in the review, but for now, let's focus on the aspect
of originality. Not only is Master of Orion II very much
like other space and land-based strategic games (like
Civilizations I & II), it is hauntingly similar to the
original Master of Orion. Granted, the graphics, sounds and
gameplay in general has improved over the original, it is
not a radical enough departure to entice this rather jaded
gamer into calling it "insanely great." Yet, given all that,
it is still a fun game to play and has provided me with
hours of visceral thrills in the past two weeks.
The game has varying levels of difficulty, from a
hand-holding level to a level that only the most masochistic
gamer could tolerate.
One serious issue for gameplay for seemingly hundreds of
Macintosh Master of Orion II players has been the glacial
pace at which the game seems to crawl in many places. Many
have complained the mouse pointer jerks and jumps around the
screen. Others have noted that the further the game
progresses, especially with larger galaxies and more
players, the longer it takes for control to be returned to
the gamer. Some have reported lags of two minutes or more on
relatively new and speedy Macintoshes. A few have pointed
out that turning off Virtual Memory speeds game play
significantly, but for many with little RAM this is not
always an option.
Graphics and Sound
The graphics and sound in this game are polished, refined
and professional. The game is spiced up with the occasional
scene of a planet being bombarded, massive fleets of enemy
vessels pulling up alongside your system and other little
surprise morsels thrown in for good measure. The sound is
smooth, clear and crisp. Unlike most games of this type, the
background music is not annoying and distracting.
The interface is rated rather low for two important
reasons. One, the interface is clunky, PC-like and two, the
Finder is conspicuously absent during game play. You are
literally stuck with quitting the game to get back to the
Finder unless you have installed a third party
application-switching extension. Such issues may be complete
non-issues for PC gamers, but we Mac gamers expect a little
something more from our games, a pleasant and easy to use
Difficulty and Replayability
This game has (as noted above) varying levels of
difficulty, with enough to keep all but the most serious
strategy gameplayer hopping. Given that the game has so many
levels, races and the option to create your own custom race
(with various abilities and disabilities) you can expect to
have many hours of rewarding gameplay. If nothing else,
experimenting and battling with the many thousands of
spacecraft combinations alone could consume years.
Many 68k Mac gamers have reported Type 28 errors while
playing Master of Orion II, particularly when changing
production targets. I have seen very few, if any, similar
complaints from PowerMac users. Overall, this is a stable,
and competent port.
This game is a decent, solid, if rather uninspired
creation. It is no secret from the interface or the gameplay
that it is a PC port. However, it is a fun, engaging and
sometimes downright engrossing distraction from daily life.
If you enjoy games of this type, pick it up.