Review by Nordo

"Some Fun, Lots of Tedium"

I've enjoyed a good deal of empire building games and Sim this or that, but I gave up on MOO3 after trying really hard to like it. The biggest problem is that each turn may or may not contain anything interesting to do, but there's ALWAYS tedious things to check up on. Every interesting thing is balanced out by some frustrating aspect.

One cool feature is the ability to design your own battleships, with tons of different weapons and special systems available, so that you can create a perfectly customized armada focused into ideal task forces. Unfortunately, ten turns after you finish building your dream army, it's obsolete thanks to new research. So you have to go back to the ship builder and update all of your designs, and build more ships with the better technology and then regroup all of your task forces to include the newer models. It'd be nice if there were an easy way to click a button that says ''upgrade my ships,'' but you have to do it all by hand, and that's a pain.

Some stuff can be run by the ai, via several screens worth of guidelines and rules for the local governors to follow. But you have to be willing to trust your planets' economies to the computer, which tends to want to build some strange things. One favorite of the computer is wasting time and money by building ground troop after ground troop where absolutely none are needed.

Interacting with your opponents is the most exciting part, but even this can be frustrating. Often, enemy races will declare war on you for no reason, or declare war and then never actually attack you (this is especially true on the easy setting). Battles, which should be great fun, are also filled with nitpicky, but frustrating problems. Sometimes when you send scouts out to explore, they run across another race's ships. At the end of your turn, all you get is the battle options screen and the name of some unfamiliar system where a battle is about to happen. You can't check the galactic map to see just WHERE this is happening, which can lead to some misinformed strategies to say the least.

Combat also tends to favors the defender heavily. With the ability to build huge orbital stations and bases to defend your planets in addition to your mobile navy, an attacking force needs to be quite impressive to even have a chance at bombing a single planet. (and a navy of that size takes a lot of tedious work to assemble)

MOO3 does have a lot of back story and atmosphere, but there isn't enough fun stuff to do, and the fun stuff that exists tends to be hampered by all the noisy little tasks you either have to do, or have to be willing to ignore and face the consequences of the AI's decisions.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.5 - Playable

Originally Posted: 03/06/03, Updated 03/06/03

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