First Look

Master of Orion reboot set to thrill gamers

Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars is ultra addictive. And despite being an alpha build, the gameplay is quite polished.
Master of Orion: Conquer the Stars is ultra addictive. And despite being an alpha build, the gameplay is quite polished.PHOTO: WARGAMING.NET

You could find yourself clicking Next Turn after Next Turn with MOO: Conquer the Stars

If you have been a fan of the 1993 classic turn-based sci-fi strategy game, Master of Orion (MOO), it is time to rub your hands in glee.

Its reboot, MOO: Conquer the Stars, is coming soon and it looks promising, judging from the second early-access build version.

The original MOO spawned two sequels, with the last game in the franchise released in 2003. Things then went quiet until 2013, when Wargaming.net - the developer behind World of Tanks - bought over the rights to the game.

This reboot retains much of the original game's flavour. You lead one of the 10 galactic races to conquer the galaxy by researching technologies, colonising new planets and gathering resources. You do all of this while extending your influence, and conquer the galaxy through diplomacy, technology or by force.

In this alpha build, there are eight playable races out of the eventual 10, including the diplomatic Human, bird-like Alkari, big- brained Psilon, and feline Mrrshan. Each race has certain attributes and advantages. For example, Alkari's spaceships have better defence while Human has the Improved Negotiations attribute.

However, all the races can research the same technologies, whether you play the big-brained or feline race.

The interface is intuitive and easy to use, which is imperative in an ultra-management game.

However, there are some downers. For example, after assigning a Factory Ship to build a Jump Gate or Military Outpost, it does not show what it is building thereafter - not good when you have 10 other things to worry about.

Once you start the game, it is an endless cycle of micro- and macro-management. You have a starting planet. But you must build a spaceship to explore new frontiers. Next, you ponder whether to build the planet's defence or create food supply. At the same time, you must decide which technology to research first.

Allocate your population accordingly to increase food production, or build the next spaceship. Raise taxes to increase revenue, direct your spaceship to go to its next destination, or negotiate treaties with another race. Done all that? Click Next Turn.

This is ultra addictive. You will find yourself clicking Next Turn after Next Turn. And before you know it, it is 4am.

Despite being an alpha build, the gameplay is quite polished. The graphics are also clean with nice textures, and the soundtrack is majestic.

The interface is intuitive and easy to use, which is imperative in an ultra-management game.

However, there are some downers. For example, after assigning a Factory Ship to build a Jump Gate or Military Outpost, it does not show what it is building thereafter - not good when you have 10 other things to worry about.

The biggest downer, though, is the real-time space combat. When your space fleet meets another, you can opt to attack it. You either "auto-resolve" the combat, or take command during these battles. But taking command is pretty lame, as you just issue commands and watch the action unfolds. In this regard, I much prefer the old turn-based combat of the old MOO series.

You can get MOO: Conquer the Stars Collector's Edition at $49 through the online game platform Steam. This version includes the early access build, a bonus Terran Khanate race in the final version and the three previous MOO games.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 13, 2016, with the headline 'Master of Orion reboot set to thrill gamers'. Print Edition | Subscribe