ESRB rating: Teen
Review rating: 4.0 stars
Turn-based strategy games based on history are quite popular, but those that explore the limitless boundaries of space are few and far between. That's why I was pleasantly surprised at the nearly unlimited number of options found in the indie title, "Endless Space." For once, a video game lives up to its name!
Players begin this 4X game (Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate) by choosing one of eight races to use in their exploration of the galaxy. If none of the races suit the player, he or she can create one of their own. Then it's time to use diplomacy, economics, war or a combination of these tactics to find new planets to colonize, new resources to ravage and new technologies to research.
Unlike some strategy games, "Endless Space" lets players customize nearly everything, starting with the winning conditions. This game also offers a tech tree that branches out in four distinct directions. Players quickly realize that putting all their points into one category will hamper others, like having a strong military with weak economic conditions. As a result, carefully balancing out the tech tree can mean the difference between being a beloved intergalactic ruler and an insidious space emperor!
Additional customization comes from creating a battleship and outfitting it with strong armor and a plethora of powerful weapons. It's also possible to hire hero characters as fleet admirals that earn experience and gain new levels. Their unique attributes can have a significant effect on game play.
All of these options may sound daunting, but the clean and intuitive control scheme helps make this game more enjoyable. Since nothing is more than a few menus away, micromanaging entire fleets is less bothersome. There's also a handy help system that's actually helpful!
Although it's lacking in action, "Endless Space" offers an overwhelming amount of ways to dominate the galaxy.