Saturday, March 24, 2012

Master Of Orion

Master Of
Master Of Orion 3
by MacSoft
Platform:   Mac
2.6 out of 5 stars(30)

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The Master of Orion series is synonymous with addictive turn-based strategy gameplay. Though the premise--choosing a unique alien race and then leading it in a galactic quest for glory--isn't new, there is something about the series that draws people back. Is it the original take on the diplomatic, economic, military, and exploratory components of galactic conquest? Is it the intrigue of the Antarans, an ancient and predatory race that always seems to pop out of hyperspace to attack at just the wrong time? Is it the sense of accomplishment that comes from building a functioning interstellar empire? Frankly, I don't know. But for whatever reason, these games are notorious for creating a bad case of Just One More Turn syndrome.

Master of Orion 3, then, has large shoes to fill. Appropriately, "bigger" is one of the best adjectives that can be used to describe this third installment. Fans of micromanagement are in for a treat, as the most noticeable new feature is the vast number of options available. The level of control is nice, but can be overwhelming--you'll sometimes find yourself swimming in a sea of menus, interconnected sliders, and check boxes. The array of empire management tools are all used to advance along one of three paths to victory: dominating your enemies militarily, getting elected as president of the Orion senate, or finding all five hidden artifacts.

Each planet in your empire has many components that must be managed individually--including taxes, build queues, regional zoning, terraforming, resource collection, economic infrastructure development, and military versus planetary spending limits. Successful management leads to a productive planet; mismanagement results in revolt and unrest. A vital addition to the game is an AI viceroy for each planet. Viceroys will carry out mundane work based on empire-wide policies you can set, but don't expect them to do exactly what you want very often. And even with the help of viceroys, the galactic scale is no less daunting. You must manage not only a galactic budget and research, but also diplomatic relations, spy infiltration, and military development and deployment. The manner in which the player interacts with the Orion senate is new to MoO3. You can now become a member of the senate and use it to impose sanctions or declare war on other alien races.

When diplomatic negotiations fail, space and ground combat become necessary. You assign task forces mission types that include long-range attack, short-range attack, point-defense, indirect fire, and reconnaissance. Ground forces are likewise grouped into task forces based on their size and strength. Once in combat, you can opt to control things directly or sit back and let the computer take care of everything. You can even skip combat altogether and jump right to the outcome--the fastest and easiest way to manage battles.

In the end, Masters of Orion 3 succeeds with compelling gameplay that will leave you engrossed for hours (or days) at a time. Thanks to the strategic depth of the game, vast number of management options, diverse and interesting alien races, a randomly generated universe, and a sprawling technology tree, no two games will be alike. Though dense and complex, the payoff is well worth the effort. MoO3 is a fantastic title perfect for anyone who enjoys strategy games. --Jon "Safety Monkey" Grover


  • Engaging and immersive gameplay
  • More depth, longer games, and greater diversity
  • Addictive--expect to dump eight hours into a single session
  • Multiplayer includes a turn-limits option and financial benefits for brief turns


  • Calling it "graphically dated" is being polite
  • Incredible complexity may leave a lot of gamers confused
  • Productivity, social life, family, and personal hygiene may suffer

Masters Of Orion III places you at the Head of a galactic empire, and dares you to expand it successfully! You must also control the shadows - Use espionage, assassination, disinformation and other dark deeds to earn a chair at the Galactic Council Manage policies that deal with social problems, military issues, slavery, race matters and more See if you have the razor-sharp mind and iron will it takes to forge a galactic empire!

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