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Galactic Civilizations: Altarian Prophecy (Expansion)
game: Galactic Civilizations: Altarian Prophecy (Expansion)
four star
posted by: Chris Martin
publisher: Strategy First
developer: Stardock
ESRB rating: E (Everyone)
date posted: 12:00 AM Sat Jun 25th, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Sat Jun 25th, 2005

Click to read.For the 4x space strategy aficionados out there, you only need mention two franchises: Master of Orion and Galactic Civilizations.  Master of Orion, while likely the first of its kind, spawned two sequels, and has had enough time to develop into a space-strategy one-stop.  Galactic Civilizations, while a newer franchise overall, has been able to take what MOO does and improve upon it, effectively creating a tighter, more playable space-strategy game.  Needless to say, both games have their own positives and negatives and are worth playing through to the end.  For its part, Galactic Civilizations now has a new expansion pack.  What does Altarian Prophecy bring to Galactic Civilizations?

If you're familiar with Galactic Civilizations (and, to be honest, if you're reading this you likely are) then you probably remember the mystery surrounding Altaria's past hinted at in the game.  Altarian Prophecy revolves around this mystery and reveals to the player, one mission at a time, why the Altarians look so much like Humans, and why the titular prophecy is of so much importance.  Of course, the Altarians, like all civilizations in games like this and Cid Meier's Civilization, are less than cooperative; namely, they'll ask you for ridiculous amounts of money right off the bat (Give us 4738 bc or we smash!?) and then, later, you'll have to give them the proverbial space smack-down. 

The nine-mission expansion has enough surprises to get a GC fan back into the swing of things.  There are two new civilizations competing with you (the humans) to learn the secrets of the Altarians: the Dominion of Korx and Drath.  Both are equally unpleasant to deal with, and both will fire a missile at you as soon as ask for directions.  There are 4 new ship types too: the Paladin (exclusive to Good civs), the Vamp (exclusive to Evil civs), the Sovereign, and the Wraith.  The Paladin heals all friendly ships in the same sector (yay!) and the Vamp steals enemy shields.  Both the Sovereign and the Wraith work to affect friendly defense - the Sovereign increases friendly defense while the Wraith decreases enemy defense in the same sector.  These ships are great to use while escorting larger fleets, but they cannot replace the Battleships, Defenders, and so on used in the original Galactic Civilizations.

Once you're done with the campaign there's still more fun to be had.  The Metaverse (more flexible and dynamic) has had a few refinements of its own.  You'll be able to jump into a 10 scenario game and then watch as your score is tracked on Stardock's site.  Of course, the Metaverse isn't anything new to the series, but the extra missions are great and varied.

There are some greatly varied scenarios in Altarian Prophecy.  For instance, now you have the ability to choose from custom rules like Altarian Alliance? or Acceleration.? Acceleration, for instance, makes building much, much quicker.  Or my personal favorite, Attrition? where you start out with huge techs and just conquer (as I like it) through military dominance.

After all that there is still more: a scenario editor and campaign editor which was sorely missing from the original GC.  Now you can make your favorite conquer-all scenario, or just a really huge cluster galaxy - then, take it to a forum and let people play your scenario.  As fans know, Galactic Civilizations is basically maintained through forums and blogs all kept organized (mostly, though there are splinter sites) on Stardock's site.  All of that - special mods and so on - can be found here.  Sharing scenarios is a great way to prove you're better than your friends.  There's still no multiplayer though.

The Altarian Prophecy expansion retails for $19.99 USD so it won't break the bank and you're likely to get 40 hours or more from this little purchase. Couple that with the new additions to the game (no, you still have to be only the humans) and AP is more than reason enough to get back into Galactic Civilizations and to plunk down the 20 big ones.  Altarian Prophecy, will easily tide over 4x strategy fans until the release of Galactic Civilizations II: Dreadlords. The preview of Dreadlords can be read here.  If you're a fan of Galactic Civilizations, Altarian Prophecy is a no-brainer.

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