Review by eolsunder
"A great old game that could have been something"
Ever want to fight galactic battles across the stars? Ever want to be a weird strange race to dominate other weird ugly races with star ships and energy rays? Well, you almost get the chance to do it with this great old PC game.
In Ascendancy, a little known space strategy game similar to the classic hit Masters of Orion, you get to choose one of about 20 alien races and proceed to expand across the galaxy. Like most other strategy games of its ilk, you can pick the military way to win, or maybe the diplomatic way, or even the sneaky evil way. A vast array of weapons, ship designs, and planetary buildings away your choosing.
On to the review!
Lets say it right up front, for a old game of its time, the Graphics of Ascendancy are outstanding. At the time it was put out, It probably was one of the nicest looking games out. Beautiful Planets, Weird alien portraits, unique and fun ship designs. Everything from the technology tree to Alien backgrounds looks stunning. In fact, even to many of todays PC games it still looks great. If I had made this review up when Ascendancy was first out, I would have given it a 10/10.
Nothing really outstanding about the game. The game wasn't made to have a great sound backing, but to be pleasing to the eye. Graphics awesome, sound, just a filler.
Decent controls. It has a few great features that most current games really should have thought up. Controls are simple and mouse driven. It has the unique ability that you can click in the corner of the screen and exit your current screen. This makes the game almost playable only with your mouse with little keyboard activity. Actually if they would have made the game work with your right mouse button as the exit button it would have been perfect. Oh well.
Ok, here is the deal and listen carefully. Ascendancy had the chance to be one of the BEST space strategy games out. Master of Orion is thought of as one of the best strategy space old games, and Ascendancy could have been all that Masters of Orion was, and much more. Except for a few things.
You start the game by picking your basic game layout. You pick the star map size, number of enemy races you want playing against you (up to 7), the overall hostility rating, and one of about 20 races you want to play. Each race has a unique special ability to fit the player. Similar to other space strategy games, you can pick races that breed fast, or learn technology fast, or can steal technology, etc. Then its off to the space conquering. By colonizing planets, or invading them, you can build mighty planetary empires. Sounds familiar huh.
The trouble with the game that kept it from becoming a instant major hit was 2 things. First, the computer AI in the game is HORRIBLE. It is one of the worst programmed computer AI's ever in existence. Even in hostile mode, its such a cakewalk to overrun the galaxy its can't even be described as challenging. You find yourself controlling 50 to 100 planets, and you run into another alien race that has...7. Ok, this won't take long. The second problem with the game is micromanagement. Now before you say its a strategy game and micromanagement is part of a strategy game, this game takes micromanagement far past the boring point. Early on its fine, but after you put 100 planets under your belt, try having to control the day to day functions of each one, every day!. It quickly becomes very...very...very...boring. You do have a self management feature which can help, trouble is, that same self management feature is the one that the rotten computer AI uses. Which if you remember, is HORRIBLE.
On the bright side, since the game was put out, a AI patch was introduced to make the enemy aliens harder to play against, and any person who plays Ascendancy MUST HAVE this patch to enjoy the game more than a hour or 2. Too bad the patch wasn't introduced to keep this great game from being put into the "looks pretty but sucks" category.
REPLAY VALUE: 7/10
Lots of replay value, since you can pick other alien races and try beating the game in a variety of ways. But other than the races special abilities, you won't find it much of a difference than your other games, you will just have new strange looking spacecraft to play with. Same weapons, same buildings, etc.
Like my review said, its a solid 7/10 as a game. Its beautiful to look at, with the AI patch its decent to play, and since its a free old download, how can you not try it? Plenty of free oldie gamesites like Abandonia or others host it. Make sure you get the AI patch, its a must have. Playing the game without the patch is like playing a space game without opponents, kinda boring. This game would have been a major player except for the micromanagement and sucky AI, but as it is, its simply a nice fun old game to enjoy for a while.
Definitely get the game, and enjoy its "almostness".
Reviewer's Rating: 3.5 - Good
Originally Posted: 02/14/05
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