The introduction of Endless Space sets the tone for a grandiose video game in the epic tradition of space operas. "This galaxy is ancient, and its first intelligent life was the civilization we call the Endless. Long before our eyes gazed upon the stars..." Only the brass fanfare is subdued. Endless Space is a turn-based strategy space video game, where you explore stars, colonize planets, research technologies, build fleets, and crush enemies or coddle them into allies.
Playability: Back to the Academy
Just take a look at the technology tree that outlines research that your empire can carry out... A few tomes can be written on the subject. The complexity of Endless Space, true to the space 4 X genre, is mind boggling. The tutorial does a barely adequate job at scratching the surface, leaving more questions unanswered than when you first load the game. The manual isn't much more helpful as it merely cuts and pastes from the in-game tutorial... I had to search through online forums to learn to play Endless Space... Sure enough, there's nothing much new in terms of games mechanics if you've played Galactic Civilizations, Master of Orion or Reach for the Stars (yeah, back in the days when I was a teenager!) or Sins of a Solar Empire, and after an initially steep learning curve you are quickly in familiar terrain, fresh out of the Academy.
Annoyance: Control freak accountant
No matter how hard game developers try, managing a galactic empire always requires a lot of micro-management. Endless Space does a better job at making things smoother and less of a headache than its space simulation peers, but this is no quick and easy cakewalk. Everything about Endless Space requires time and patience. You have at your beck and call a limited number of heroes (i.e. smart asses right and left hands that can do anything from planet development to fleet command without bothering you much). But a measly three sidekicks to begin with won't help much when you have dozens of planets and spaceships to tend to. If your temperament is that of a financial auditor, if you find mindfulness in complex repetitive tasks, if you have a lot of patience and time on your hands, Endless Space has a whole universe for you to discover.
Beauty: Gorgeous Universe
Graphics are a strong point of Endless Space. Planets and stars look better than through the Hubble Space Telescope. Spaceships are superbly rendered and explode in satisfying fashion, even when they're your own. I looked forward to each space battle, just so I could gawk at the beautiful shapes of my fleets and of mine enemy. The background music is relatively soothing and unobtrusive, but they say nobody can hear you scream in space...
The Old Video Gamer's Prattle: Timeless Space - 70/100 points
I love space games, space simulations, space films, space books etc... so I was quite happy to play several long games of Endless Space, a welcome update to the explore, expand, exploit, exterminate in space genre. There is no doubt that endless Space is a beautiful game to look at. But it is definitely not for casual gamers. If you need to prepare your son's lunchbox, and must pick up your daughter from yoga class... forget about playing just a few turns of Endless Space. Just another turn... turns out to be lengthy sleepless nights. Endless Space quickly warps into Timeless Space.
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