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Who Will Rule the Worlds?

Take over the galaxy, one star system at a time, in Lost Empire: Immortals, a strategy game with a vast playing field.
Take over the galaxy, one star system at a time, in Lost Empire: Immortals, a strategy game with a vast playing field. (Paradox Interactive)

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Friday, April 4, 2008

Lost Empire: Immortals may have the largest playing field of any of the so-called 4X-type strategy games (explore, expand, exploit and exterminate). As the ruler of one of six races, you must expand your empire across a galaxy. With more than 5,000 star systems, that might take a while.

In the game, everything was previously ruled by immortals, but they fought amongst themselves and were eventually destroyed. Although two of the incredibly powerful beings still exist, the chaos and destruction caused by their empire falling has given some races the chance to forge their own way. There are also more than 20 minor races on various planets, but they can't challenge your dominance in space.

Things start out fairly simply with a colony ship and a scout vessel in orbit around the single system you control. But then you zoom out and see the other 4,999 unexplored systems: You have a big job ahead.

You control most aspects of your civilization, including your government, what projects your leader is trying to improve, specific areas of research your scientists should concentrate on and even the design and composition of your ships and fleets. Most battles will have been all but decided before the first shot is fired based on who has better ship designs and military technology. Once a battle starts, you can watch it unfold in 3-D, but you have no control over the outcome, which keeps gameplay focused on strategy.

A game this huge could easily get away from players once they expand their empires beyond a few star systems. But the interface is streamlined, and many micromanagement tasks are automated. Solar systems are a single unit, not individual planets. Claiming a neutral world is as easy as having one of your fleets visit it, though acquiring one owned by another major civilization will require either a land assault or skillful diplomacy.

The clean interface makes being king of the universe a bit easier but does so without hurting the strategic gameplay armchair generals crave. But only those who love strategy should apply for the job.

-- John Breeden II

Lost Empire: Immortals Everyone; PC Windows XP/Vista ($30) Paradox Interactive Lost Empire: Immortals Everyone; PC Windows XP/Vista ($30) Paradox Interactive


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