Reviewed: March 6, 2008
The galaxy is populated by six main playable races who are competing for domination along with several sub-races that are also there to be used as pawns or stick in your side like thorns. In Lost Empire: Immortals, you choose one of these six races and turn-by-turn, try and expand your empire from your home planet outward into the farthest reaches of the up-to 5000 system galaxy.
Use politics, ingenuity, science, trade, and all-out war to gain the upper hand in the galactic struggle where you yourself are sometimes a pawn in the bigger battle between two immortals competing against each other to control the universe.
This game is a turn-based conquest game. I donít have a whole lot of experience with these kinds of games because I often get bored of them very quickly. I will have to say, however, that though this one is not very graphically intense or particularly exciting, it kept me raptly attentive for several unending hours. So, I will admit that I understand why some people really get into these kinds of games. There are layers upon layers of detail built into this game.
Resource management of all sorts of things like food to support your ever-growing population, minerals to build your fleets, and money to spend on scientific research to better your equipment, all to make galactic dominance a little easier. There are also many minute details that you can get into like bureaucracy with the other races and ship design (you have to equip your various ships with different weapons and shields in order to maximize their efficiency without going over budget). The level of those details is what makes this game enjoyable. There are so many different things to think about and plan that it is sometimes maddening, but it really keeps you on your toes.
One thing that kind of disappointed me about the game was that when you have a hostile encounter with another race, either in the form of a space battle or ground battle, you have no control over the outcome, it just depends on your ship design and specific instructions you may have given the ships in your fleets. You can choose to watch space battles in a replay mode, but you are only a spectator of a very rudimentary battle system.
The graphics arenít really that impressive at all and since you arenít in control and already know whether you won or lost, thereís no surprise and no suspense. I was utterly disappointed that I had no control over the battles. After all, when Iím playing a game as tedious as this, sometimes I want the option to step in and blow some stuff up. I remember that Star Wars: Rebellion allowed to the option of controlling space battles, which would have been a nice feature in this game, as well. Since it was not there, I felt it was lacking.
Another thing that really bothered me was that as my empire expanded and more and more things had to be calculated between each turn, the amount of time it took to actually process the turn took longer and longer. Even on my brand-new, pretty high-end system, it was taking almost 5 seconds or more to process the calculations for each turn once I had about 30 systems in my empire.
I canít imagine if you got really far into a full 5000 system game, how long it would take to process each turn. I couldnít help but feel that something must have been poorly executed in coding if the game was acting that slowly between each turn. Then again, I was running a review copy that was downloaded from the FTP site directly onto my machine, so perhaps the actual copy would run a little more smoothly. I can only hope.
When you focus so much of game development on such a broad scope of so many little details, you have to take the focus away from other things. In this game, those ďother thingsĒ ended up being the graphics and sound. Though the galaxy is represented very beautifully, and the sheer size is breathtaking when viewed completely zoomed out, it isnít enough to really keep you visually stimulated.
Even the space battle replays are lackluster and uninspiring. This game would have been just about the same if it would have been text-only with a very basic graphical representation of what planets you controlled, etc. Basically, thatís what it is, with just enough eye-candy thrown in to make you realize that the game is new, rather than one that was made 10 years ago.
Again, the sound was unimpressive. There really isnít anything to have audio for in the game. Still, I was disappointed that they didnít have any voice files for when you are interacting with the other races or even the immortals. The only real sound that you are constantly in contact with is the music that keeps you from going out of your mind while exploring the galaxy.
I will say that the music was well done. It was interesting enough to keep you interested but not overly done to be too exciting for what the game was. Also, it seemed to fit the sci-fi feel of the game. Still, though, I was overly unenthused by the sound in the game. Especially in the battle-replays where the sounds of lasers and explosions were weak and almost seemed like an afterthought, much like the entire space-battle system to begin with.
For people who really love these types of games, I think they will be happy with this game as another one where they can explore their god-complex and take over the entire galaxy in many different ways. The fact that the galaxies are randomly generated and can have as many as 5000 systems to conquer will definitely make for a lot of gameplay for those people who can sit and play this game for that long.
Basically, what Iím saying is that this game is good specifically for those people who like these kinds of games. If youíre not into Civilization or Masters of Orion or similar games, do not waste your time getting this game. As I said, this was probably one of the more interesting games in this genre that Iíve ever bothered to play, but after playing it for a few hours, I donít think Iíll be spending a whole lot more time with it.
The online options will definitely be nice for people to take out their grand schemes of take-over on their closest friends, but I still cringe at the thought of the amount of time these games would take. And, as of right now, you play the turns simultaneously with your opponentsÖno play-by-e-mail option with this game, which Iím sure would be much appreciated by those players who have lives. I canít see anybody ever finishing a game in a single sitting.
In the end, I would say that the game is impressive in the amount of detail it offers but lacks in a lot of ways that are, for me, important for a good game that I would be willing to put a lot of time into.