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MOO 1 is a work of genius. The whole game weighs about 5 mega. There are only like 6 or 7 screens in the whole game. But, my god, what they did with that. Nothing is superfluous. The right (or wrong) response in the diplomacy screen can win (or lose) you the game. Spies can turn the tide of battle. Changing your ship designs can turn a losing situation into a winning one. You absolutely must play this game to see what tight, focused game design can do. Warning, you will not be able to put it down for a long, long time. What value for 6 bucks! And you get MOO 2 as well! However, I think MOO 1 is the better game, as it is just insanely addicting. Buy it, now.
I'd have to agree, MOO1 is the superior of the pair. There's a certain elegance in the simplciity of the complexity in MOO1 and other games like Civ1 over their sequals.. All in all a can't miss play experience.
I'll agree that MoO1 was the superior game. There are some features in MoO2 that I really miss when I go back to MoO1, but a lot of what MoO2 added just felt like clutter, or at best, eye-candy. MoO1 got the game play, for the most part, rock solid. MoO2 is the weaker, but prettier, game.

Of course, MoO2 also has multi player, which counts for a lot to some people.

I'd say that my big preference for MoO1 comes from the simple elegance of using sliders to control everything, instead of the repetitive tedium of building a dozen or so individual buildings on each colony. Even with automation, building up your colonies felt boring very quickly, and managing the farmer/worker/researcher balance just felt clunky.
What are the main differences between MOO 1 and 2?
I have played the first one quite a bit now, but I only played 2 for about 30 minutes. 2 seemed like it had a ridiculous amount of micro management compared to the first game, I dont like that sort of thing so I havent played the 2nd one since then.
I find MOO2 more interesting, personally.
Agreed. MoO2 feels like an awkward Civ2 clone to me and sort of loses a lot of what gave MoO1 its unique identity. MoO1 has fewer features and choices, but as a result they all matter. MoO2 has more options but some of the differences are just minuscule or esoteric or vague.

Also diplomacy in MoO2 felt really useless to me.
moo1 probably fave ever games (been at it since 82)[i][/i]

the diplomacy has charm that moo lacked - the art had more emotiona nd was more fun
i cant believ how much of my life i wasted on moo2 when it came out - i liked the other universe though and race options just diplomacy seemed to lack charm and too much planet tweeking and slow on a big game
i love moo 1, great game that consumed 1000's of hours of my life, learning to beat it on impossible in a small galaxy takes forever but is very rewarding