Undoubtedly one of the best and most underrated 4X strategy games ever made, Stars! has a massive unitverse and plays best in multiplayer mode. Your goal? To take over said universe... or any of several other victory goals; universal domination is just the most fun and challenging. |
What distinguishes Stars! from other galactic conquer titles is the multi-faceted complexity that is concealed beneath a deceptively simple mouse-driven interface. The game runs smoothly in a window, and everything you need to know about your budding empire can be accessed via menus or shortcut keys. After choosing the size of the universe you want, you can add up to fifteen (!) other players, AI or human. It's possible to set up as play-by-email (PBEM) – a welcome feature that unfortunately not too many games nowadays support. The beauty of Stars! is that the game gets more complex as you play, without bogging you down in tedious micromanagement. It is not uncommon for a huge battle later in the game to involve hundreds of ships or more, but the interface is so well-designed that managing your fleet is a breeze. The ship design interface is one of my favorite features in the game: Stars! boasts even more components than Master of Orion. The computer AI is more than adequate, although the game is most fun in multiplayer mode against fellow human commanders. With a top-notch user interface, addictive "just one more turn" gameplay, and a challenging computer player, Stars! is a worthy entrant into our Hall of Belated Fame. Aside from dedicated support to the game, developers Mare Crisium are also hard at work on Stars! Supernova Genesis, the sequel that has all the makings of another underrated classic. Highly recommended!
Reviewed by: Underdogs