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4X Master of Orion II turns 25

Discussion in 'Strategy and Simulation' started by Morblot, Nov 22, 2021.

?

The best race is...

  1. Alkari

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  2. Bulrathi

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  3. Darlocks

    3.7%
  4. Elerians

    14.8%
  5. Gnolams

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  6. Humans

    22.2%
  7. Klackons

    11.1%
  8. Meklars

    11.1%
  9. Mrrshan

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  10. Psilons

    29.6%
  11. Sakkra

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  12. Silicoids

    7.4%
  13. Trilarians

    0 vote(s)
    0.0%
  1. Morblot Aberrant Member Patron

    Morblot
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    [​IMG]

    Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares was released in the US 25 years ago on this date, November 22, 1996. I am still waiting for a better space strategy game.

    [​IMG]

    While I had briefly tried it at a friend's place beforehand, my own journey with MoO II really only started in 1998, if I remember correctly, and a bit unusually with the Mac version. I still remember putting the CD into the clunky external 2x (I think) drive and how processing the turns actually took time, sometimes more than a minute, with the 68040 Mac we had back then. The combat was a bit sluggish, too.

    [​IMG]

    None of that mattered, however, because the game just sucked me in, and I played it for months, over and over again. I remember thinking about my then ongoing game at school instead of concentrating on the teaching; I even wrote some MoO fiction. :D (I was twelve. And it was bad, and luckily it's been lost since.)

    [​IMG]

    While my addiction has since considerably lessened, I still play it at least once a year... and when I do, it's never just one game, it's complete all-consuming addiction for at least two to three days. As I said in some other thread, it's my desert island game, the one game I've played more than any other, and can't see myself ever not playing.

    Happy birthday, old friend. I love you. :love:



    ...let's end with some random screenshots I googled for the occasion!

    [​IMG]

    All the races. These are supposedly balanced but somehow races like the Elerians or Mrrshan never seem to get anything done and end up being galactic shitrags, while the Sakkra and Klackons are almost always dangerous opponents.

    When I was young, I always played the Psilons or created a custom Creative race. I've since been cured of that tendency. :D

    [​IMG]

    The galactic map. This shows a summary of how your empire is doing and serves as the main UI of the game. But, most importantly!, the background music on this screen is just so good. I can hear it in my head as I'm writing this.

    [​IMG]

    The colony management screen. MoO 1 didn't have one, I think they copied this from Civilization. It's one of the weaker points of the game, IMO; you can only have one of each building per colony, and there's no limit to the number of buildings, so every colony will eventually end up having every building. It could do with some, dare I say it, diversity.

    [​IMG]

    Breakthrough! Unless your race is creative, you can usually only focus on researching one technology at a time; it's either Class I shields or the Mass Driver, not both. There are 8 categories of tech, such as biology, engineering, and sociology.

    [​IMG]

    Diplomacy is pretty good in this game; not quite as good as, say, SMAC, but you can still get a lot of things done using it, and the other races behave in a believeable way, meaning that there's usually a reason for what they're doing. (Unless they have the Erratic trait, of course.) Each race also has their own theme song, like in SC II, and some of them are excellent.

    [​IMG]

    You can design your own ships. Not much to say about this one except it works and there are plenty of weapons and other technologies to choose from as the game progresses. I usually just slap reinforced hull and the best beam weapons I have and call it a day. Maybe a battle scanner if my guys suck at shooting.

    [​IMG]

    Of course you also get to play with the ships you design. Here is a battle versus some Antarans. (The Antarans live on a planet called Antares inside its own pocket dimension; beating them there is one way to win the game.) Combat can be pretty exciting when two somewhat equally powerful fleets meet, but usually it tends to be quite the one-sided affair.

    [​IMG]

    Here is an image of a ground battle. It's really undercooked and can barely be called a system.

    [​IMG]

    Oh yeah, there is the space dragon as well! He'll ruin your day if he comes visiting early on, but is piss easy to take out for an advanced civilization.

    Anyway. What are some of your memories of MoO II? How does it compare to its prequel, its sequel (I've only barely tried them myself) or other space strategies? I might post some more of my own recollections later if I can think of something worth writing.

    edit. Typos, missing words, formatting, missing image, etc.
     
    Last edited: Nov 23, 2021
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  2. spectre Arcane

    spectre
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    Aw, they grow up so fast... anybody remembers the ad for it with two cows? One went moo, the other went moo 2.
    For me, this was this perfect sweetspot of a game, with all the stuff feeling reasonably designed and... just right.
    I didn't play too much MOO1, while it was made entirely obsolete by the sequel as was the case with Jagged Alliance, it felt that MOOII is giving me more options.
    This feeling was never repicated by the sequel, MOOIII felt like it had too much bloat that didn't really translate into good gameplay, flipping options for the sake of flipping options and waiting for something to happen.

    For me, the biggest challenge of the game was overcoming the mold of min/maxing the perfect custom race and discovering the fun in playing around actual disadvantages and discovering niche tactics.
     
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  3. Black_Willow Arcane

    Black_Willow
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    MOO3 > MOO2. :smug:
     
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  4. Tavar Arbiter Patron

    Tavar
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    Damn, I have to replay this again. Incredible game, still the best 4X game in my opinion.
     
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  5. Morblot Aberrant Member Patron

    Morblot
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    Re: ground combat and conquering planets. Correct me if I'm wrong, but in MoO 1 it's handled the same way as transferring people between your own planets, isn't it? I.e. you just select how many million humans you want to ship off to who knows what hellhole of a planet.

    Man, that is badass. You, the emperor, just calmly order some 6 million humans to pack laser rifles and get onboard whatever smelly overcrowded slave ships they can scrounge together and take over some backwater planet of your neighbors or die trying. :D

    Compared to that, the trained combat troops vs. trained combat troops approach of the sequel is just... boring.
     
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  6. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    He's pretty easy to take out for a newbie civilization, too. The key to winning early fights seems to be just to create scouts armed with single-shot nukes, fire them and then run like cheap paint.
     
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  7. Nutria Arcane Patron

    Nutria
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    Strap Yourselves In
    MOO 1 is simpler but I wouldn't say it's obsolete. It has its own charm and I still come back to it too from time to time.

    I agree with everyone about choosing your race. Certain traits like Creative are way op, so to keep enjoying the game after all these years you've got to avoid picking them and use race selection as a way to handicap yourself. As a custom race you don't have to spend all your points, so you can turn the difficulty for yourself up even higher.
     
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  8. Endemic Arcane

    Endemic
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    Nah, the real powerbuild is going heavy on production bonuses, eg Unification (or even Feudal + Telepathic for a quick rush with nuke cruisers).
     
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  9. Raapys Arcane

    Raapys
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    All three games are great, I think.

    MoO1 has some advantages over MoO2 in terms of just being quicker to play while offering mostly the same base gameplay and less micromanagement. It's the streamlined experience. These days I replay it more than the sequels.

    MoO2 was the game where everything from gameplay to art to music and sound effects came together in perfection.

    And though MoO3 changed everything and was a buggy and unfinished mess, it offered a different style of gameplay that felt more like managing an interstellar empire. With mods it can to some extent compete with the previous games. Perhaps the only 4x game to have actual wars of attrition, since killing a doom stack is a time consuming affair that is further prolonged by new ship production.
     
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  10. Morblot Aberrant Member Patron

    Morblot
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    I would have to agree with this. You don't usually really need more than one tech per group anyway, just pick the best ones (e.g. always research battle pods instead of the other two) and build a shitton of ships. The psilons even with their big creative brains cannot really compete with that, unless you give them way too much time to build up their colonies and fleets. And, of course, it's not just about ships either, as production helps with everything: food, research, money..., whereas research doesn't actually do much if you can never produce all those fantastic discoveries your researchers come up with.

    ...but maybe I shouldn't pretend to know too much; my love for the game is great, but my skill at actually playing it is still somewhat lesser. Feel free to laugh at this, but I usually play on Average difficulty because I can't stand the idea of the other empires getting bonuses I can't get. :oops:
     
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  11. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    Beam weapons are shit until relatively late in the game. The early game, the part that you need to win to stay in the game, is dominated by NUCLEAR MISSILES. Even the fancy missiles don't matter. What matters is firing LOTS and LOTS of MISSILES. Weapons capable of downing missile spam don't materialize until much later. Just churn out shitpiles of boats which are nothing more than boxes full of missiles. Then you shoot your missiles and run. No other weapons can even reach you at that point in the game, and by the time they can close to do anything, you are gone, leaving behind an enormous cloud of missiles in your wake. Even if they manage to survive, they'll have most likely lost many ships, while you have lost nothing and can just do it again.
     
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  12. Morblot Aberrant Member Patron

    Morblot
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    I don't doubt you one iota, but man, call me a LARPer, but that is not how I want my lads to kick those alien asses. :D Maybe I've got Star Trek burned too deeply in my mind.
     
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  13. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    Well, you don't get Star Trek Phasers until much later in the game....coincidentally the point at which they start to dominate...but in MOO2, if you want an endgame energy weapon of choice, it's actually disruptors, so the Klingons and the Romulans have it right. AutoDisruptors pack the most raw firepower per unit of space at the end.

    Of course, you should have already effectively won the game by then, and during the parts of the game which are actually competitive, it's all about NUCLEAR FUCKING MISSILES. Even those fancy newfangled missiles don't stack up that well, plain ol' nukes carry the day through most of the game. When you need more firepower than you can get out of just nukes, you upgrade them to MIRV nukes, so you can get more nuke per nuke.
     
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  14. Endemic Arcane

    Endemic
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    Though you probably need at least merculites to kill the Guardian.
     
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  15. Dyspaire Cipher

    Dyspaire
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    The three games that have never been uninstalled from my system are SMAC, HOMM3, and MOO2.

    The Holy Trinity.
     
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  16. Norfleet Moderator

    Norfleet
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    Killing the Guardian is a victory lap move. You've already won the game before that.
     
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  17. Zero Credibility Arcane

    Zero Credibility
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    Ah, the good old MoO2, man that takes me back. My favorite strategy was to focus on boarding action early on, then when Antarans come a knocking drown them in bodies until I capture a scout or two of theirs. It's perfectly possible to do so the first or second time they attack, unless I am unlucky with all of them self-destructing on capture. Then I scrap the captured ships for their shinny, shinny tech, refit my ships and go on a genocide spree. Good times, good times.

    And then MoO3 came out, a game that feels like it was made by people that actively hated MoO2 and went to great lengths to ruin everything I liked about it. Biggest gaming disappointment of my life.
     
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  18. Adidas-Clichèd Cringe Learned Patron

    Adidas-Clichèd Cringe
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    Insert Title Here
    Got it for free with some gaming magazine back in the day, and it still holds a very dear place in my heart.
     
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  19. Hobo Elf Arcane

    Hobo Elf
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    MoO2 is a mechanical marvel, but one thing that rarely gets brought but I think is worth mentioning is the atmosphere. The ethereal synth ambient is really great and does much for its atmosphere, but the art style, UI and everything else that's art related makes it feel very immersive. It's a cozy atmosphere and perfect for wrapping yourself in a warm blanket when it's snowing outside with a cup of coffee and some free time to burn with your good old friend, MoO2. Easily one of my top games of all time.
     
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  20. Nutria Arcane Patron

    Nutria
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    I find it interesting that we're all coming up with different ways to win after 25 years. Going all into production (I think I tried this a few times?), rushing with lots of missiles early (I'm a good boy, I don't start wars!), capturing Antaran ships (I've tried, I can't pull it off), turtling up and using diplomacy and espionage to pit your enemies against each other (what I do). It's amazing how there's so many ways to play that I haven't even mastered yet.
     
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  21. Van-d-all Erudite

    Van-d-all
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    It baffles me to no end, how, after so many years is it possible no space 4x managed to get the formula as good as this, despite so many direct clones and even MOO3.
     
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  22. Morblot Aberrant Member Patron

    Morblot
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    Poll added for your voting pleasure.
     
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  23. Morblot Aberrant Member Patron

    Morblot
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    uh...
     
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