PC Roundup • Page 2

Hard to be a God, Lost Empire, Europa Universalis: Rome, Crusaders.

Lost Empire: Immortals

  • Publisher: Paradox Interactive
  • Developer: Pollux Gamelabs

Lost: one empire. Answers to the name of Rome. Last seen a couple of millennia ago, running around near the Mediterranean dressed in a charred toga. It's pretty careless to lose an entire empire, but hey, these things happen. Especially in space, because after all, it's a big place.

Lost Empire invites you to assume control of a fallen race, and rebuild their civilisation in a turn-based strategic opera that pans out over a vast galaxy. There are multiple layers to the game; exploration and colonisation of the large map, economic fiddling, fleet building, scientific research, diplomacy and of course good old-fashioned war.

It sounds complex, and it seems so at first glance, because the tutorial is quite vague and you're left to figure out quite a lot by yourself. The mineral slider determines the percentage of resources that are either stockpiled or spent on planetary improvements, but you're not told what those planetary improvements are, or what they do. In actual fact, the mechanics are fairly simple and it's not difficult to work it all out after a few hours play, but still, the tutorial could certainly use some polish.

As could the interface, which is pretty rough around the edges. When a fleet is near a planet, for example, it can be fiddly to differentiate between them. And some of the menu text is microscopically small. There are also bugs in evidence, even after the latest patch (1.03), with custom-named fleets reverting to their old names, and ships just plain disappearing after being produced. There's a definite slightly-unfinished vibe.

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Bonus points are awarded if you can get your empire's outline to resemble a sheep.

Initially, there is an engaging element in setting up your empire and switching the function of planets to generate different resources, while researching technology, and both designing and building ships. However, once you've got the basics running smoothly, expansion across the huge map starts to become a little dull. The spice should come in the form of diplomacy and war with the other races, but it doesn't.

The minor races you encounter are annoying, relentlessly demanding tributes, and although there are diplomatic options to use with the major races (your opponents in the quest for galactic domination), there's not a huge amount of influence you can exert. When war does erupt, the space battles are flat and disappointing. Your fleet has its tactics preset and upon encountering an enemy, the result is simply flashed up: "You lost". A 3D view of the battle can then be viewed, which is useful tactics-wise, but it's rather anticlimactic already knowing the outcome.

A storyline and missions are thrown in to jazz things up, but the missions are rather tedious; you've got to deliver some minerals, or build a couple of ships. It's hardly spacesuit gripping stuff. While there are promising facets to Lost Empire's simple yet expansive empire building, ultimately it feels unfinished and uninspiring, and more of a lost opportunity than anything else.

4/10

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