Master of Orion 1
Every so often a game comes along that seems to grab you in such a way that you simply cannot pull yourself away from the game. You keep telling yourself that you will go to bed after the very next turn, but before you know it, it is 3:00 a.m. and you are starting to figure out how much work you can miss the next day. Master of Orion has been termed 'Civilization in Space' because of the similarities in their designs, the term is also fitting because of the addictive nature of both games.
In Master of Orion your goal is quite simply to conquer the galaxy. It is a game of space exploration, economic development, resource management, diplomacy and warfare. It combines the best elements of other space strategy games of the time such as Reach for the Stars, Armada 2525, and Spaceward Ho! without any of their weaknesses. Orion has great depth and richness, and the design is elegantly balanced. It is quite simply the best game of its type that had been published in the 90s.
To keep up with the galactic Jones's it is not enough to colonize a lot of planets. It is important also to engage in technological research to keep the competitive edge. Money spent on technology can be divided up into six areas: computer, construction, force field, planetology, propulsion and weapons technology. Players start out at level one in each area and will make discoveries over time as money is invested. There is a lot of variety in the types of advances that can be researched, and care must be taken to choose the right developmental path, both across and within each area. For example, if the initial strategy is quick expansion, it will be more effective to spend more money in propulsion than in the other areas. It is clear that a lot of thought went into how technological advancement works. Almost all areas of the game are affected by technological development. However, advances are not simple linear combinations, where a level 8 engine is four times as fast or powerful as a level 2 engine. Instead, each area is remarkably diverse in what can be discovered. For example, various planetology advances will allow colonization of different types of hostile ecosystems, development of biological weapons, implementation of planetary terraforming, and increasing the efficiency of ecological restoration.
Master of Orion 1 is an exciting, fun game that even today will keep you coming back for more. If you are like me, once you start playing Orion you will be staying up late, trying to figure out the next grand scheme to become the sole emperor of the galaxy!