AI War Collection
A wonderful gift I got from Gnostic, thanks again!
At the beginning I planned this little review differently, with a lot of details and examples but then I've realized that important part of this game is discovering new things yourself, learning from each game and exploring vast universe of AI War. Therefore I decided to give a more general impressions with just a few examples so that I won't spoil any fun you should have from this game. It also means that some examples are not 100% accurate so please do not correct me if you see something and know that it's not really like this. I'm well aware but let us not spoil the game for people who haven't played it yet. And definitely they should :)
I'll start with the obvious thing: the game is difficult to get into. Right from the beginning you are overwhelmed by the number of units, types of ships, turrets, buildings, planets, units' stats, buttons, type of orders and so on. Yeah, the game is really complex but don't worry, you don't have to know everything right from the beginning. Start with tutorials, they will give you a rough idea how to play and then you will start discovering new features. After some time you will realize that despite the first feeling they are very well implemented and make the game incredibly deep and fun to play so I beg you here: don't let the first hours discourage you! Keep playing!
The second thing I would like to discuss is AIs themselves. As you can imagine the whole story of the game is that humanity is facing an extinction and has to fight against powerful AIs to survive. Right from the beginning you are informed that you shouldn't really discuss if AIs are cheating or not, is the game fair or not. The point of the game is to offer a challenge so AI controlled enemies are different then you and have different set of rules. I can guarantee that this concept works amazingly well and makes the game special. Even though AIs in most cases use similar units as you do their attack and defense mechanism are different then yours. At the beginning of the game they mostly neglect you but your actions can increase their suspicion that perhaps those humans are not as weak as they seemed to be. So you have to be really careful. Obviously you have to progress, conquer new planets, find artifacts and research new ships/weapons. But if you do it to fast they will send a huge army that will crush you immediately.
You can expect your fleet to be huge as units cap is rather non trivial. Not only there are many types of ships but you can research their upgrades as well. The thing is you are only limited per unit type per its level so when you research an upgrade you don't have to get rid of older ships to build better ones - both caps are completely independent so it's beneficial to get them all, even the lowest level ships (at the very least they can serve you as cannon fodder). As I've mentioned earlier this can be a bit overwhelming, especially because besides standard ships you can produce larger starships which can boost certain stats of your fleet and sometimes you will get even bigger units that will have special abilities. After some time you will learn how to command your whole fleet efficiently.
I've just mentioned that you can research upgraded versions of your ships so it's nice moment to mention how research works because it's rather nontrivial. In many RTS games you have to spend some resources to research things but you usually aim to research everything and it's not THAT important in which order you will get new inventions. Here however, knowledge is a separate resource on its own. Each planet you conquer can give you a limited amount of knowledge so have to plan carefully which inventions you should get first. Getting a new type/level of ship makes your fleet bigger and better but you should keep in mind that turrets are much better in defense because cap limit is not only per turret type per level (as it's for ships) but also per planet! So each of your planets can have the same defenses without limiting other planets. You can't do that with your ships! So at the beginning it's good to invest in ships so that you can conquer a few planets but then you should probably get some turrets because you won't be able to defend every planet you have with your fleet as you may need it elsewhere. Once again this concept works perfectly and you can use any strategy that suits you best.
In the end I would like to briefly mention one thing (without spoiling anything). The universe is very rich. It's not that you just conquer a few planets so that eventually you may destroy AIs. Many planets have some secrets, artifacts or other inhabitants that may help you. During the game you will get a lot of secondary objectives that fulfilling may be beneficial. The very good thing is that you can solve them as you like. Or even abandon them as soon as get something nice - for example you get a great super-ship that you are supposed to use in a secret mission but you may still decide to take the ship and use it against AIs and forget about the mission. It's really mind blowing how many things may happen while you explore the universe. I've played this game many times and I'm still finding completely new things.
I can wholeheartedly recommend the game. As I mentioned earlier, it's not that easy to get into it but then it's pure awesomeness. Just give it a try, struggle through the initial WTF-is-happening phase and you'll love it! Full list