Thursday, November 14, 2013

Pandora: First Contact Gameplay Review

I'm playing Pandora: First Contact, a turn-based 4X strategy game by Proxy Studios, Slitherine, and Matrix Games.

The game’s clear inspiration is Alpha Centauri, and it takes a lot of cues from that heralded strategy title. Games take place on randomized hex-based maps with varied terrain, and can be played against the AI or online using real-time simultaneous multiplayer. Factions provide different bonuses and vie for military, economic, or scientific victory. The interface is generally done well, with city and unit lists, a turn action reminder (like move units, research, or build), and likely combat results before battle starts. Each city expands as the population grows, and you can assign workers to different resource-producing tasks. Buildings can enhance city attributes, and excess gold can be used to instantly produce units or structures. High pollution from industrial operations can reduce morale, and formers can automatically improve surrounding terrain. Basic units can be customized as research is conducted, assigning specific weapons, armor, and devices to use during combat. Units gain experience with combat, resulting in more effective attacks and higher health. A randomized technology tree shuffles research options, and diplomacy can cultivate trade pacts, non-aggression agreements, or war. AI factions are quite adept at the game, and the hostile aliens provide an interesting common foe. While the game lacks significant innovation, those looking for a modern take on Alpha Centauri will not be disappointed.