|System: PC||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Stardock||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Stardock||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: May 5, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Pending||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of the Arnor is a shining example of the perfect expansion pack. It's more than just an add-on to the original game. It features new content, bigger and better maps, different tech trees for each race, and a whole host of upgrades from the graphics to the sound.
Galactic Civilizations II: Twilight of the Arnor is the second and last expansion pack to Galactic Civilizations II, a great strategy game that includes a deep single-player campaign every bit as challenging as an engrossing, online multiplayer mode. The A.I. is smart, dynamic, and responsive. The sheer size of this game is going to intimidate all but the most determined of novices. This map is freakin' huge. Getting from one section of the galaxy to another can take a number of turns. This game was designed to be played for months on end. Of course I didn't have the luxury of playing this game longer than a few days, but I was still able to burrow a little deeper than a mere scratch on the surface.
To bring freedom to the galaxy, the Dread Lords, with their Arnorian powers, must be destroyed. The source of that power is crystals that are scattered throughout the universe. These crystals must be discovered and destroyed; only then will races in the galaxy be free. In the meantime, prepare for some magnificent battles.
Various aspects, such as the interface, have been refined. It's easier than ever to use, but no expense was spared when it came to maintaining the depth. There are so many things to consider in this game that it's simply mind boggling but in a good way. It may seem complicated at first glance, but this is the kind of game that is meant to be played. You can always learn from your mistakes. Don't worry about getting it right the first time (or the second, third, fourth...etc.) Just pick your race, make some decisions, and get in the game.
Controlling the galaxy is your ultimate goal. This can be achieved through various means, fair and foul. You can try to rule by force, or you can choose more diplomatic ways of exerting your influence over space and time. Races include the Drengin, Krynn, Dread Lords, Terrans, Korath, Altairians, Yor, and the Iconians. Each of these races possesses different characteristics and technologies, but more importantly they have different philosophies. Some, like the Krynn, are more spiritual in nature and seek to find converts. They aren't a race per se;they are more a religion that anyone from any race can join. The Yor and the Iconians are more aggressive and war-like. If playing as another race, you will find ways to instigate battles between other warring factions that will help deplete their resources so you can move in for the kill when they are sufficiently weak.
There's a lot of freedom afforded in this game. You can change your race's predilection as you see fit. Perhaps the diplomatic path is a little too sedate for you. Simply start manufacturing weapons and a fleet, and gear yourself up for war. At the same time, a lot of influence can be gained by making peace with other races. Money is a very powerful commodity in this game. It can be accrued through the development of trade. In turn this will require the creation of trade routes, which need to be protected from non-friendly races. No matter how you slice it, you're still going to have the threat of war hanging over your head, so you'll always have to allocate funds to some form of military might.
As I mentioned, certain things have been simplified, if you want things that way. For instance, the CPU will construct your fleet for you ship by ship. You can opt to design your ships yourself. Entering into the manufacturing process, you will visit the shipyard where tons of parts are available for you to assemble. It seems to me you still get your money's worth regardless of how the ship is constructed, at least in terms of power and ability. But if you like tinkering, then tinker away.