Rob Zacny

Episode 414: Classic Year in Review: 1997

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Personally I thought Fading Suns was fantastic. Certainly it was a product of its time rushed out the door to meet release with no support after the fact. That was just the way games were in the 90's. What it lacked in polish it more than made up for in style and creativity. Every complaint that the 3MA crew bring up about the space game genre was pretty much addressed in that game. 


Planets that matter? Check, every world was unique with it's own resources and map to interact with. Instead of the conquest of a world being two different coloured bars shifting one way or another you landed troops/tanks/aircraft/gribbly monsters from orbit and took the planet hex by hex. Conquering a planetary capitol with the assistance of the bombardment of ships in orbit is awesome!


Interesting politics? Check, basically the game was set in a Holy Roman Empire IN SPACE with multiple electors determining key positions in the Imperial bureaucracy. Though the AI was about as smart as a  sack of none to bright rocks multi-player games could get very cut-throat with players vying for the roles of Imperial Eye (Spymaster) and Fleet Admiral.   


Theme that mattered to game-play? Check. All sorts of interesting bits of lore from the Inquisition coming around to burn down your labs for heretical research to the mysterious Symbiot and Vau aliens, which could have been fleshed out more but as I mentioned rushed out the door. The game had character that popped up again and again.


I would love to see an end of developers aping MOO2 and see someone make a modern version of EoFS. 

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Certainly it was a product of its time rushed out the door to meet release with no support after the fact. That was just the way games were in the 90's.


I do agree that quality control wasn't great in the nineties, but even for the time, the original released version of Emperor of the Fading Suns(EoFS) was incredibly buggy and unfinished : I never played a game released in a worst state apart from Descent to Undermountain and Pool of Radiance : Ruins of Myth Drannor. Not every game in the nineties suffered from savegame corruption !


Fortunately, it's definitely in much better shape now, thanks to the hard work by fans of the game, and those who had a bad experience the first time around should definitely revisit it.


I had a bit of a retro space 4X craving recently and replayed EoFS along with MoO1 and MoO2 : of the three, I must admit I enjoyed MoO1 the most, because it is so tightly designed and a good singleplayer challenge, and I enjoyed MoO2 the least, because I thought it was a bloated sequel with too much pointless micromanagement. EoFS has some extremely strong points that you summarized very well,  but the amount of micromanagement and the dumbness of the AI makes it an inferior singleplayer experience to MoO1 in my opinion. It's still an impressive game, and I'm sure it would be a brilliant multiplayer experience with very commited players.



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On 12/4/2017 at 4:15 PM, Arasmo said:

19th century

I fully agree with all the praise given to Sid Meier’s Gettysburg. I’ve replayed it this year and the battles are as tense as ever !


Let's not forget Civil War Generals 2 (CWG2) though. CW2 is a very streamlined wargame that is sometimes described as a panzer general knock-off. Personally, I find it a deeper and much more satisfying experience than Panzer General ; you have to take care of the moral, cohesion and fatigue of your troups and the battles aren’t designed as time-limited puzzles. And the campaign are pretty great : like Panzer General, your performance influence the next battles and you have to manage your army carefully, but I find it much easier to recover from a defeat than in Panzer General, where you very quickly fall into a« death spiral» if you don’t have decisive victories.




Civil War Generals 2 is a favorite of mine also. In fact I think it actually out sold Sid Meier's Gettysburg initially... at least wikpedia's sales figures which have sources (granted Wiki so take it with a grain of salt) cited seems to indicate that. SMG had a much longer period where it was relevant in the marketplace but it seems the first 12-18 months CWG2 was very well received. 


Civil War Generals 2 remains relevant to this day in my view. Look at the Ultimate General campaign and compare it with the CWG2 campaign and I can't imagine that UG:CW didn't at least play some role in inspiring some of the campaign mechanics. I could be wrong of course but when I played UG:CW I immediately thought about CWG2's campaign, it seemed very familiar. 

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The annoying thing with Sid Meier'S Gettysburg is that my disk doesn't seem to read properly any more and there is nowhere else to get it.
I'm not really interested enough in the American Civil War to go trawling through old interfaces to get a similar experience either.


Rob must be happy that Close Combat: A Bridge Too Far just came out on GoG though. Weirdly it doesn't look anywhere near as good as I remember, still have nightmares about poorly positioned Flakk 88s!


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