A Guided Tour of Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar.
A reintroduction to Galactic Civilizations
Galactic Civilizations is a turn-based strategy game set in the 23rd century. Players take on the role of leader of an interstellar civilization. The player must explore and expand into the galaxy and balancing their manufacturing, economic, political, cultural, and military resources in order to survive in a hostile galaxy.
Players can win the game through military conquest, diplomatic alliances, cultural influence, or through a technological victory.
Galactic Civilizations II introduced a ton of new features over the original game which we won't get into here. But a couple of the most notable were ship design and a new "technology forest". The technology tree in GalCiv II forces players to make tough choices. Because economic, military, industrial, logistical, diplomatic, computing, cultural, and other kinds of technologies are in their own separate branches, the order in which players choose to research technologies as well as when they make those choices have a much greater impact on game play than is typical of strategy games. It also requires the computer AI to be far more sophisticated in order to be competitive.
The computer AI in Galactic Civilizations has always been one of its high points. Most reviews will touch on it because, in an age where AI is often ignored (you can't take a screenshot of artificial intelligence), Galactic Civilizations has a computer AI that provides a significant challenge without having to resort to cheating (though super high levels are available for people who truly master the game where the AI does get extra money and resources). The net result is a game where there are a ton of strategic options available that still provides compelling competition from the computer players.
Rise of the Dark Avatar
Galactic Civilizations II included a campaign called Dread Lords (the full title was Galactic Civilizations II: Dread Lords). In it, the Terran Alliance based on Earth in 2225 was working to build an interstellar alliance to ward of the powerful and hostile Drengin Empire. Into this mix came the Dread Lords -- a race of insanely powerful beings who had been imprisoned in a pocket dimension. Suddenly, a three-way war was underway. The Dread Lords only weakness is that they were few in number (as in, only numbering in the hundreds).
Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar is the expansion pack to GalCiv II. It includes a ton of new features as well as a new campaign in which players must take on the role of leader of the evil Drengin Empire to deal with an internal challenge to their dominance -- the Korath.
A Guided Tour of Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar
Setting up a game
The setup options in Dark Avatar give normal players the kind of power that is normally reserved to game modders. Here's what's new:
The new galaxy setup screen allows users far more options than previous and is much easier to use.
Players can now easily pick and choose from a long list of opponents including ones they've created themselves.
When players create their own opponents they can even decide what ship style they'll have
Still not good enough? Okay, fine, you can even tell the computer player what ship styles they should use for particular roles. Still not good enough? Okay, the ships they use can be ones you designed! So all those ships you made from your favorite Sci-Fi show can now be in the game used by different races that you created!
Still want more? Okay, how about being able to set the intelligence level to the point where you pick which algorithms and how much money they get compared to you? You can even decide whether they get to use more CPU than normal in order to make use of more sophisticated algorithms!
Into the galaxy
Colonizing planets isn't the "rush" it once was. Half the planets require a specific (and expensive) technology to get. Focus too much on getting those techs and you could find yourself far behind technologically.
The graphics in Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar are significantly better. Military star base from Dark Avatar (left) vs. original (right). And the new ones are more memory efficient.
The technology tree has been greatly streamlined. Gone are repetitive items in the tree like "Laser 1, Laser 2". Instead, technology groups are put together into a single item on the tree that's divided into milestones.
Asteroids are now in the game which can be mined. But the miners are not totally loyal. Make sure you control the space the mines are in or else they may defect! Moreover, decide carefully where to beam the resources from your mines. The further the target planet is, the fewer resources that get there.
Players can now use template ships as the basis of a design. Create a really cool ship? Save it as a template and use it in future games as the basis of new designs!
Ship Design is greatly enhanced thanks to having around 10X as many ship components to put onto ships as were available in the original.
The Effect of Super Abilities
Each civilization has its own unique super-ablity. And they're not afraid to use it. Here, "someone" has persuaded the Altarians to go to war with the Korx. Someone has the Super Manipulator ability...
The New Diplomacy
With Economic and Research Treaties in the mix, players who want to win without going to war have lots of new options.
The new treaties are immensely valuable. But they are very powerful too.
The Foreign Report screen is much more detailed about why civilizations like or don't like you.
Computer players put even more thought into who they should surrender to and why.
The New Warfare
The key to military victory in Galactic Civilizations II has been to keep an eye on what your opponents have on their ships. In Dark Avatar, this has been taken up a notch with the Starship Intelligence Report.
Pretty and useful. Keep track of what the AI has on its ships in style
Want to knock someone down but don't want to go to war? Send in your secret agents! They can disrupt an opponent's economy with them never knowing who did it. Of course, the same can be done to you...
Dark Avatar has a new combat system: Battles take place on a per weapon basis instead of all weapons being summed up into a single shot by a single ship. This makes ship design even more important and makes capital ships more valuable (but also more expensive).
The little Touches
Set where you want your ships to exit orbit at.
Get a pop up map for displaying territory using normal perspective.
My Ranger class starship protects the home solar system.
Manage your military from a super zoomed out position in the abstract...
Or get really close to individual ships
A detailed report on your mining base (and an easy way to show how much better the graphics are than in the original GalCiv II).
Ships in orbit now really orbit on the map
Players now have the option to build not just the latest/greatest planetary improvements but older ones as well
[Get Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar]