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Review

Endless Space Review

  • Game release: July 4, 2012
  • Reviewed:
  • PC

Endless Space is a relentlessly difficult sci-fi strategy game, challenging your intelligence at every turn.

by

Endless Space is a new game to the 4X strategy scene, featuring non-linear gameplay and a demanding level of difficulty that pushes you to learn from past mistakes and strive to overcome the hurdles of galactic domination. This might not sound like everyone's cup of tea, but you'd be surprised how quickly Endless Space can trigger addictive tendencies. There is little in the way of story or variety in the presentation, but on all other counts, Endless Space is an excellent sci-fi strategy game that you can potentially replay for years to come.

When you begin a match, the first order of business is to define the size and density of the galaxy you wish to vie for. In addition to the dozen or so settings available for customizing the map, randomly generated star systems ensure that no two sessions play alike. Likewise, factions and allegiances are highly customizable, should you choose to veer from the predefined selections. There are just over 75 attributes that can be applied to a custom faction, and your choices impact your ability to interact with outsiders and exploit the universe around you.

Once you've committed to a galaxy and faction, you're treated to an intro cutscene in the form of a motion comic. The character and environment art are a treat, but their time in the spotlight is short and very much to the point. There's enough backstory to justify the sci-fi setting and your chosen faction, but little else. Before you know it, you're in command of two spacecraft on your home planet with the forces of enemy empires looming on the horizon.

Earth-like planets are some of the best resource producers around and should be colonized as soon as possible.

To even stand a chance of emerging victorious, it's imperative that you hit the ground running. Thankfully, Endless Space's intuitive UI holds your hand as you stumble down the unbeaten path of galactic domination. Tutorials appear when you initiate menus for the first time, and there are always reminders when anything of consequence happens during the course of a turn. You're not forced to dig through menus time and again; instead, you click on notifications to easily access research, production, and expansion tools in an instant. This may not sound impressive, but for a genre that requires a ton of micromanagement and has historically lived deep within complicated menu trees, the UI's ability to communicate in an organized and logical fashion should not be taken for granted.

On the flip side of the coin lies the incredibly complex tech tree. There are four research branches to explore encompassing 138 unique technologies. The nonlinear design ensures you exhaust numerous matches finding your way within the sea of possibilities. Quite often, what worked during your last match might not be as useful in the next, so it's important to diversify your knowledge of the entire tech tree.

Your empire's technological growth is in your hands. Don't screw it up!

One barrier that stands in your way is the elaborate language used to identify and define various technologies. Words like "epigenetics" aren't common and are bound to leave a few people scratching their heads. You do get a clear understanding of the bonuses rewarded once you've acquired a particular tech, but quite often they are only vaguely defined in the initial description. Without proper experimentation, it's easy to waste time and energy on lackluster technology simply because the description is unclear. Lose your footing due to the nonlinear progression or complicated terminology, and kiss your progress goodbye.

Even if you've honed your ability to navigate the tech tree, there are some conditions that are completely out of your control. Just as the densities of star systems and planets vary, so too do their attributes. Planets are randomly assigned anomalies and advanced resources that further complicate your empire's development path. Newfound dangers and opportunities pop up when you least expect them, and if you don't adjust accordingly, you can count on your opponents to take advantage of your mistakes.

Give your neighbors a space inch and they'll take a space mile. Jerks.

The AI is punishing, even on normal difficulty, forcing you to constantly correct past mistakes and improve your ability to micromanage. You may not comprehend the entirety of the game's systems during your first few matches, but frustrating losses quickly give way to incremental improvements, and each successive match bears the fruit of your experience, narrowing the gap between victory and defeat. Though Endless Space is daunting in the beginning, deciphering the game's verbiage and developing your potential are what make it a rewarding experience in spite of the challenge.

Eventually, you encounter outsiders, and before you are thrust into battle, you can negotiate the terms of engagement. Depending on your faction and resources, it may be best to butter up your opponent with a peace treaty until you've acquired the proper warfare tech to penetrate their defenses. Quite often, though, enemy encounters result in combat. Combat consists of three phases: long range, medium range, and melee. You can assign a move for each phase consisting of offensive or defensive maneuvers, or you can opt to auto-battle if you wish to simply roll the dice. Unless the tables are tipped in your favor, manually assigning commands is the best way to mitigate damage from an opposing star fleet.

Gorgeous battle sequences break up the inevitable monotony of micromanagement.

Combat is also the only time the camera shifts perspective, revealing the grandeur and might of your spacecraft. As the phases of battle progress, the camera cuts to different angles, highlighting the action against beautiful expanses of outer space. Ship designs vary greatly between factions, often mimicking the appearance or evoking the attitude of the commanding race. As you begin to customize the parts and functions of individual ships, it's encouraging to see the result up close, but quite often, the drive to complete a turn means you rely on auto-battle to keep the ball rolling.

Once you've adjusted to the flow of gameplay and empire management within Endless Space, beware: addiction is in your future. You will lose, lose, and lose again, but the motivation to succeed keeps you going back for more. If you wish to mix things up, online multiplayer opens the door to new levels of variety and difficulty. There is also native support for game mods, should the community wish to retool and iterate on the game's formula even further.

Teaming up with alien empires is often your only hope for survival against such unfavorable odds.

4X strategy games have the ability to captivate you with engrossing depth, requiring forward thinking and an extreme aptitude for juggling numbers large and small. With all of these qualities, Endless Space takes its rightful place on the 4X podium. The numerous options available during game creation are outnumbered only by the possibilities within an individual match. By the time you've got a few turns under your belt, it becomes painfully obvious that Endless Space is anything but a walk in the park, and if you are a fan of deep, methodical strategy games, you'll be thankful for it.

The Good
Intuitive UI
Intricate growth and development systems
Addictively challenging
Limitless replay value
The Bad
Lackluster storytelling
Occasionally complex terminology
8
Great
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0 comments
mirceavalcea
mirceavalcea

- good and very addictive (civ style), but with a balance problem: on Easy the explore, expand, research are too easy, on Normal the AI wipes you out in war (i.e. in my last game I 've just played long enough to research about 12 techs from the huge tech tree, and already the Cravers invaded me with over 100 ships in just the first wave!!! needless to say i had only 5 because I was playing peacefully, but even if I played warrior style I still couldn't have afforded more than 20 or so).

-  being a Civ fan, I kept looking for the Civilopedia-like help, but there's nothing like it, it would have been very useful.

- the techs are not too complex in terminology,maybe for the children.

- one problem is that the events do not tell where they happened (the notification says, for example, the system has just lost 20% productivity, but I have no idea which system!)

- still, a great TBS sci fi game overall, which is good cause I never enjoyed the RTS ones.



gskur
gskur

This is about 5-6 game at best, and a bit buggy too. The reviewer is either insincere or quite sloppy. There is no way anybody who payed (or tried to play) this game extensively enough could give it a better rating. The graphics is pretty, true, but limited, pointless, and too soon it becomes somewhat annoying. UI poorly designed (= sucks), etc. It's a shame...

 

vihazur
vihazur

This game makes me feel retarded.  Maybe it's because I haven't played this type of game before, but intuitive UI?  Really?  I can't tell what's going on at all, and the tutorial is so disconnected from the gameplay, it's like going back to the days of trying to read a game manual.. which I never had the patience for.

Cerebellum68
Cerebellum68

"Endless Space is a new game to the 4X strategy scene"

 

Well obviously the reviewer never has played Space Empires.

This game could, just as easily, have been named SE6 instead of Endless Space.

govagent7793227
govagent7793227

i don't know about this game yes its good but its no master of orion. i dont like to compare games. during let say when you want to invade an star system you dont see much just your fleets waiting around and then you won the the star system. not much fun compare to MMO 3 where you need an invading fleet  to push out the defenders then bring in your ground forces to invade one planet at a time now that to me is that is invading an star system. in space combat what about Carriers? where you can launch fighters? what just your basic energy weapons and kinetic weapons yes you get to use missiles. is it just me or your weapons barely hit the other ships? i can go on.  but lets leave at that.

rodgers81
rodgers81

This review is misleading regarding the AI ability. If you are good at turn base strategy game you wont find much challenge in this game. I started playing at normal to realize there is absolutely no challenge.... I increased the difficulty one level at a time and never lost or even reload. I manage to win the highest difficulty level on first try. The AI is mostly just random. For example, even at hardest difficulty the AI will use tactic that increase it's Kinetic defence even if your ship doesn't have any kinetic weapon. 

 

This game is highly addictive I most admit, but the AI is just making random choices. The game concepts are great. Let's just hope that they will make a patch for the AI, I'm playing v 1.02. It is suppose to have some AI fixes. Personally, I'm not impress with the AI programmers who cannot add a line such as: IF 0 weapon of a kind, do not use tactics that boost that weapon... Pathetic. 

jojocoolio
jojocoolio

wow and they have Secret World a lower score than this. This site is all over the map.

Crush_Project
Crush_Project

this game is only hard if you've never played masters of orion, galactic civ etc etc.  The only thing this game brings to the table over those are multiplayer and the battles system.  Still a good time, but ya if you've played the older games you'll know exactly what your doing.

vadagar1
vadagar1

turn based !!!! thank god

 

 

Microchip
Microchip

similar to Microsoft's Freelancer?

 

IrrationalBeast
IrrationalBeast

Wait, so a knock against this game is that it uses words found in the dictionary?

mythentity
mythentity

Until I came here, I've never known that you get less detailed tech description if you're zoomed out, lol.

Bozanimal
Bozanimal

"Endless Space is a new game to the 4X strategy scene..."

 

I'm sorry, but what does "4X" stand for outside the wardrobe of an extremely obese individual? It's not as well-known as FPS or even MOBA, and should have been defined in the opening sentence. Normally I'm not so ornery, but you should know better than to assume your audience is familiar with this kind of abbreviation!

 

Alright, alright; I'm done giving you a hard time. In case anyone is wondering:

 

"4X games are a genre of strategy video game in which players control an empire and " e x plore, e x pand, e x ploit, and e x terminate. The term was first coined by Alan Emrich in his September 1993 preview of Master of Orion for Computer Gaming World. Since then, others have adopted the term to describe games of similar scope and design." -Wikipedia

Whiskey3romeo
Whiskey3romeo

I'm loving this game.  It's very challenging until you come to grips with rather complex tech tree, but the intuitive UI and the relative ease of managing your empire makes this game very addictive.

 

Only cons for me are the rather small galaxies and limited number of races.  Hopefully future mods and expansions will add more races and bigger galaxies.

gix47
gix47

been eyeing this game for awhile, have to wait to get it thou :(

payday just not close enough lol

FoeCrusher
FoeCrusher

Sounds interesting but I always find that with 4X games as your empire grows it becomes very difficult to keep everything at an optimal level. This detracts a bit from the fun as I am not naturally suited towards extensive micromanagement.

ruinflux
ruinflux

The card thing becomes a hell of a lot more enjoyable as you progress through the tech tree Illmatic, it becomes a rock/paper/scissors with 20+ options and choosing well can mean the difference between getting stomped and doing the stomping. I initially didn't care much for it, but 20hrs+ into the release build I've come to love it.

 

For the reviewer, if you zoomed into the tech tree you'd be able to see *exactly* what the various techs will do for you and you can examine all the techs to pick your way through the trees. Holding the shift key allows you to queue them up as well. I'd say any sci-fi setting will have more than its fair share of gobbledygook technical terms pulled out their butts, really odd that he counts that against the game. And Moo2 didn't exactly feature any 'story' either, I think story is the least of people's concerns for a strategy game, but wth opinions... everyone has one ;)

illmatic87
illmatic87

I saw this card game thing, it kinda put me off.

Caldrin
Caldrin

Awesome game and score is about spot on..

Picked this up early on in beta, they did a kickstarter type thing and i must admit its the msot fun i have had in a 4x game since master of orion II.. if anyone is a fan of 4x games then this is a must get simple as..

paladin125
paladin125

Looks awesome. Native mod support sold me; I will definitely be picking up this game in the near future...

Snide-Cipher
Snide-Cipher

Looks great! Going to avoid it so I don't halt my career progress for a good month or three :|

pyroguy29
pyroguy29

Funny how he glosses over how bad combat is by saying auto resolve often to save time. The combat killed this game for me. The auto resolve is terrible, and fighting the battles is basically watching a cut scene.

tightwad34
tightwad34

I am taking it this is a PC only game. That's too bad because this is a game I am very interested in. The consoles need more strategy games, like a lot more. I mean I really enjoyed the Civilization game they released for consoles, but I would like something more complex and challenging.

mirceavalcea
mirceavalcea

in the expansion Disharmony they solved some of the problems I mentioned: the events now say what system they affect; they added an Artbook which is similar to a Civilopedia, explaining the civs and the ships in detail; they added 2 civs (still too few); they added a lot of events, which is great and brings life into the gameplay; they improved the diplomatic part somehow. And made battles more interesting with stuff like bombers, formations etc.

3 issues remain:

-it's still quite tough on normal;  

-in the later stages it gets boring because with the explore-expansion part solved and generally with some wars won, there are no new challenges (maybe they should add stuff like rebellions, civil war, seccesions, politics, religion); still no story;

-and I still don't understand how could expansion and colonizing the galaxy cause unhappiness (and a lot of it). I understand that there must be some game mechanism to block over-expansion, but the Civ solution of making expansion too expensive in money seems more logical.

A good game overall, better with the expansion. Thank you,developers.

mirceavalcea
mirceavalcea

@gskur actually I'd give it 8 right now, and 9 or 10 after a balance rework and some story added (and more civs, but I'm sure they'll add some). I have been playing it for 2 weeks now and cannot stop, so it's a good game, but for TBS fans (especially civ ones), NOT for RTS fans. 

mirceavalcea
mirceavalcea

@govagent7793227 

they solved these in the expansion. now there are fighters and bombers in space-battles; the invasion of systems now involves bombing and/or invading troops.

mirceavalcea
mirceavalcea

@rodgers81 

maybe you are too good compared to the ordinary player (i'm not being ironic). I've been playing TBS games since 1996 at least twice a week, so I'm no noob, but I find it challenging on Normal (compared to Civ, for example, which is still very enjoyable on Noble, the equivalent of Normal). And games are done with the ordinary Joe in mind, not with the aces.

Orontes13
Orontes13

 @Microchip hahaha, nice one Microchip... oh wait you are not joking?

 

In that case, Freelancer was a space-fighter combat (arcadish) simulator. This one is a 4x turn-based strategy game - like Sid Meier's Civilization or galactic civilization.

jampoz
jampoz

@Bozanimal I've read the whole discussion and decided to answer here in the beginning. What's wrong with searching somewhere else for the meaning of the term?
I personally didn't know what it meant and I spent my life on computer gaming (I'm 33) yet I don't think the reviewer should explain any term. We really can't take for granted what people know or don't know.
Just go somewhere else and educate yourself on the meaning, it's not the reviewer's fault at all.

PaulJA
PaulJA

 @Bozanimal The term '4X' has been used in gaming for decades. You're either young enough to not have come across many examples of the genre or have mostly not paid attention to turn based space games. By no means is 4X an obscure term, pretty much any game in that genre will bandy the term around.

 

Of course FPS is more well known, graphics whores @ twitch gamers with 5 attention spans make up the majority of "gamers" nowadays, despite it being a newer term by comparison.

Bozanimal
Bozanimal

  @Driscoal  @oflow @Orontes13 

 

At least two other users - @angryfodder and @IrrationalBeast - that read this review did not know what that term meant, which validates my comment. It's a safe bet that other users did not know what it meant and simply didn't comment or don't have Gamespot accounts.

 

Never assume a reader knows what an acronym stands for, even one as common as FPS or RTS, and especially one that is uncommon or only known by enthusiasts like 4x and MOBA.

Orontes13
Orontes13

 @Bozanimal I think its pretty safe to assume most people reading the review of Endless Space, or any turn based strategy game would know what 4X means.

 

oflow
oflow

 @Bozanimal um 4x is a pretty well known genre if you play RTS games.  

Driscoal
Driscoal

 @Bozanimal I know very well what 4X stands for, yet I have no conceivable notion as to what MOBA might mean. I am also of no inclination to look it up and find out, because your argument, sir, is F.A.I.L. Good day!

angryfodder
angryfodder

 @Bozanimal I've been gaming since my dad got us an Atari 65XE - I had no idea what 4X was

ExplosivePants
ExplosivePants

 @tightwad34 Consoles don't have the power, memory or controls for this type of game to do them justice.

powerclick93
powerclick93

@mirceavalcea  Well try rushing the three types weaponary to level 2....it is allabout making ships that could whitstand any of the three types of attack... and always assiqn a hero to your fleet as fast as u can...

Bozanimal
Bozanimal

 @PaulJA You're familiar with the term, but evidence in this very thread points to the contrary of your claim.

 

I'm no spring chicken (unfortunately): I played the original Master of Orion back in the day, and grew up on the Atari 800. I've played more ROTT than CoD. That said, the most recent "4X" game I played was probably Galactic Civilizations II, so I'm not exactly focused on the genre!

 

The point is more that reviewers need to define their terms and assume that not every reader is already a fan of the genre. It's especially important because you don't want to alienate readers that might go on to become fans. I would hope that when DOTA 2 is released the review would define what MOBA stands for, for readers unfamiliar with the genre. Ditto with 4X, CMSG, TBS, TBT, etc. It's just good writing.

IrrationalBeast
IrrationalBeast

 @Driscoal I don't know what either one means and I know what epigenetics means so you're both way may eCool than I.

oflow
oflow

 @Gelugon_baat  @tightwad34 pretty sure this game could easily run on a console.  End War & RUSE  are both more complex than this game and were made for consoles.

 

The problem is the developer probably doesnt have the resources to actually make it on a console.  I think this studio is pretty small (like less than 30 ppl small)  Considering that they did a pretty good job on this game.  It was definitely worth the 30 bucks.

Orontes13
Orontes13

 @y3ivan having played both, I cant disagree. But still this game is damn good for an indie game. Especially after the disappointing Sword of the Stars 2 (another 4x space strategy game)

y3ivan
y3ivan

 @Orontes13 i still prefer SOTS, much more action pack. Too much management can be a snoozefest.

Orontes13
Orontes13

 @y3ivan of course... its strategy in space. think turn-based  version of SOTS, with much more focus on strategy than tactical battles.

oflow
oflow

 @jollybest1 lol not true at all.

 

 First of all the Playstation Network takes micro payments I buy DLC and games all the time thru the PSN.

 

Second, the controller isnt as limited as you think theres lots of games that are PC ports to consoles that use the same type of commands as the PC.  

 

Third, you can plug a usb keyboard into the PS3 I do it all the time. I also have the keyboard attachment that sits on top of the controller as well.

 

So none of those argumments are valid.

 

Like I said, both RUSE and EndWar were far more complex than Endless Space as far as UI and graphics go and they worked fnie on the consoles.

 

Endless space only uses something like 2 gigs of HDD space. I got a 500GB HDD on my ps3.

jollybest1
jollybest1

 @oflow Nope it can't these games are complex because of the microtransaction and not to mention the controller is limited in comparison with kb+mouse.

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brokeassc19
brokeassc19

@Gelugon_baat

 Gelugon_baat. Endless space, since beta has always reminded me of the ipad/tablet version of civilization. Rudimentary AI and system/fleet management. The game feels outdated and old with its simplistic style.

Why anyone would want to play a TBS on a console as opposed to a PC or tablet is beyond me. The control scheme is horrendous, without mouse/keyboard or touchscreen. Civ probably allotted a month or two to make, test and release the console versions.

I would venture to guess the reason Civ on the console is limited is probably because it was made for the Wii, DS, Iphone/ipad, xbox and ps3. They made the base version for the lower quality hardware then slightly improved what they could for the xbox and ps3 within a constrained time-frame.

tightwad34
tightwad34

 @oflow

 I remember RUSE being released, but It didn't look that great to me, and I saw someone playing it for a little while and was not that impressed. From what I remember it's strongest  points were multiplayer and the single player was  rather weak. Pass right there considering I don't like multiplayer. But I do not remember End War. You can enlighten me if you wish. When was it released? Is it easily available now?

Endless Space More Info

  • Released
    • Macintosh
    • PC
    Endless Space has players compete for control of the Dust to uncover its secrets.
    7.5
    Average User RatingOut of 334 User Ratings
    Please Sign In to rate Endless Space
    Developed by:
    Amplitude Studios
    Published by:
    Iceberg Interactive, Amplitude Studios
    Genres:
    Strategy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms