Space Empires Gets Reborn on Facebook

Space EmpiresIn 1993, a new era of strategy gaming was born, in the form of Space Empires. It quickly became popular among strategy titles of the time and eventually paved the way for four sequels. Over time, though, the game’s following died out to some degree, but nearly 20 years later Nvinium Games is set to launch a new, social version of the cult classic in the form of Space Empires: Battle for Supremacy.

It comes out today but we’ve gotten a chance to take an early look at the application. A compilation of concepts from popular science fiction titles such as Mass Effect 2, StarCraft, and a sea of social apps, the game is, if nothing else, going big.

First and foremost it appears play similarly to social strategy titles such as Starfleet Commander mixed with various Civilization clones. However, that is only two of many social games that has been merged into this concept. From Starfleet, Space Empires incorporates the basic concept of building up a base and armada to both defend and conquer the Facebook galaxy. However, unlike the strictly text-based Starfleet, Space Empires takes on a much more visual approach.

Colony FarmIn each world the user controls, they can establish visible colonies and military bases in which structures are physically placed upon plots of land. In essence, this is no different than just text, but to have an actual visual of the big picture does create a rather grand sense of accomplishment. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look as if the player can actually place buildings wherever they wish (like in a city-builder), rather only on sections of terrain that are dubbed free plots of land, similar to Kingdoms of Camelot or Evony. In fact, Space Empires could in part be described as a sci-fi rendition of these popular titles.

Regardless, these buildings — and there are a lot — come in your standard shapes and sizes. Like in any strategy game,  there is a typical technology tree to work up before more advanced structures can be created. These include basic buildings that allow for building ships, defenses, researching new tech, and probes as well as resource gathering and defensive buildings themselves.

Resource buildings are perhaps the most interesting. In a slight page from StarCraft (vespene gas geysers), resource gathering structures for crystals, metals, gas must be constructed atop actual resource nodes. The only one that does not require this is energy, which is created by various power plants and the like. Nevertheless, it is a resource structure called the Colony Farm that is even more curious, housing a very common social element: Farming. In the preview we were given, the user can actually create a colony farm where they can plant crops. Just like FarmVille, Farm Town, and the sea of others, players plant, care for, and harvest (lest they wither) goods for a currency called “Sigil.” Unfortunately, the requirements to build one take a little while to fulfill, so we have yet to unlock it.

In fact, that is an aspect of Space Empires worth pointing out. The game, though a lot like Evony and its ilk, is very slow to get started. Only a small handful of elements take under 10 minutes to make, and unlike the noted games, there is no means to speed them up for free. Typically speaking, anything that takes under 15 minutes in such games could be built instantly, for free,  if the user desired. They still can do so here, but at the cost of constructions drones that cost varying amounts of the virtual currency Credits, based on how much time they take off the building. In the long run, this is not a huge deal as this would be the case for advanced users anyway (there are also Evony-style quests that often reward items that cost Credits), but for a brand new user it does hinder the ability to really hook them.