Light of Altair
I cut my teeth on space strategy games. Master Of Orion was single-handedly responsible for getting me into PC gaming as a kid. The hours I sank into that game probably could've gotten me a PhD by the time I was 12. I think I made the right choice.
Regrettably, the time-sink factor of the genre has put it on the back burner lately more times than I'd like to admit. I wish I had the time to play Sins of a Solar Empire. At 3 hours a game though, it's just too much to fit in to my old-man weeknights. Fortunately for me, Light of Altair came along.
Light of Altair has a map consisting of several planets, on each planet you can build multiple colonies. A colony is a zone where you can place various buildings like hydroponic farms, solar panels and industrial centers. Each building can make your citizens happier (or not), or will let you produce food, energy or money. Food helps grow colonies, energy is used to power more buildings and more income lets you fill your coffers. You can harvest fuel and ore from planets as well, then use those resources to build ships to defend your colonies. Once you get enough fuel, you can colonize yet another planet. Simple, but satisfying.
It strips the 4x space strategy genre down to it's tasty, addictive bones. The ship building for instance, is simplified in all the right ways. Each hull type has slots, which can be filled with weapons or armor. There are no huge, arcane lists of items to add to 5 different mount points - no multitude of subsystems to configure. Just pick your weapons and armor and build. It's exactly what I want out of ship customization.
The story bits are serviceable -- the single player campaign progresses from colonizing the Moon all the way to distant star systems. The game has a very good tutorial and the demo gives you a solid sampling of the gameplay.
The interface is clean and very easy to learn. What could be an overwhelming amount of information is presented well and is easy to understand. The combat is very simple, but the ship-customization and various classes of ships available keep it interesting.
Why You Should Check This Out: A space strategy game that is a joy to play, Light of Altair is 4x space strategy simplified. Light of Altair has done a great job of distilling the elements that made games like Sins of a Solar Empire so addictive. If you prefer your strategy gaming in 20-minute chunks, Light of Altair is for you.
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