Master of Orion II has clearly fallen into the trap that so many strategy sequels struggle with. This is that they have a successful original game, and then release a sequel which essentially the same game but with nicer graphics and more complexity – and somewhere in the process they forget about playability.
Master of Orion II adds a bunch of new features. Some of which are nice (like being able to colonize multiple planets in a system), some of which are relatively pointless (the new concept of ‘leaders’ that you can hire), and some of which are just down right annoying.
My biggest complaint with Master of Orion II is racial imbalance. Master of Orion gave you 10 races to pick from – each of which gave you one clear strength to work with. Master of Orion II provides a similar number of prebuilt races, and also allows you to build your own race – but in MOOII it is far too easy to build a ‘super-race’. For example – for the purpose of taking screen shots I created a modified version of the Meklar race – and gave them the following traits:
- Creative. This results in an unbelievable boost to my research abilities. The advantage here is so significant that any non-creative races should just forget about science.
- Omniscient. Yup, these guys can see everything in the universe. No need to explore and no need to worry about enemy stealthing technology as this trait nullifies all that.
- Telepathic. They can also read minds. This allows them to know when other races are lying to them, detect spies instantaneously and mentally control entire planets.
Do you think that I might have a slight advantage here?
Anyway – the game runs perfectly under Virtual PC – and if you can tolerate the imbalance in the game play it is quite a nice way to pass the time: