One of the advantages of gaming's increasingly fragmented digital landscape is that the cracks allow niche titles to poke out into the spotlight, and so it proves with Endless Space. An entry in the under-served 4X strategy genre, it asks you to explore, expand, exploit and exterminate as you build up a galactic empire, seeking domination through scientific knowledge, military might or financial success.
If you've played any of the Civilization games then you know what to expect, as Sid Meier's long-running classic series remains the most popular example of 4X strategy. With its sci-fi setting, Endless Space sets its sights on less well-known inspirations such as Master of Orion and Sword of the Stars, though. In the early going, this dedication proves fruitful and fans of the genre will be satisfied. Over the long haul, however, there are just enough hiccups to keep it from attaining true greatness.
Right from the start, Endless Space defines itself by a willingness to bend to accommodate the player. Not only can you tweak the expected parameters such as difficulty and game length, but you can dictate the size and shape of the galaxy you'll be playing in. This in turn dictates the sort of stars, and by extension the kind of planets available for your conquest.