Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares (Abbreviated to MOO2 in some circles) is a turn-based strategy game developed by Simtex and designed by Steve Barcia and Ken Burd. Published in 1996, MOO2 puts you at the command of an emerging race in a galaxy where you can choose how to conquer the stars around you. Playing on the ' 4X' principle, a term penned by Alan Emrich in his September review of Master of Orion for 'Computer Gaming world' which stands for: "eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate". Simply put, the game allows you to finish in multiple ways, be it peaceful or aggressive, passive or direct; all roads can lead to victory...or defeat.
Long before the start of the game, two races, the Orions and the Antarans, fought a war that ripped a scar across the galaxy leaving devastation wherever the battlefield lay. The Orions were eventually triumphant and, being the enlightened race, rather than kill the Antarans, the Orions trapped them in a pocket dimension. After their victory, the Orions left the Galaxy, leaving only a 'Guardian Ship' behind containing Loknar as a pilot. 'The Guardian Ship' guards the Orions' original homeworld, which is conquerable by the player. This planet is usually the best planet, in terms of resources, in the galaxy. With this planet the player also gets certain un-reasearchable technologies and the alliance of Loknar and his ship.
A little after the game starts. the Antarans break out of their dimensional prison and attack races randomly with increasingly powerful fleets.
There are three ways to win Master of Orion 2:
- Be the Last Remaining Race Alive.
Although mostly done through forceful takeover, some races can concede victory and merge their empire with yours through diplomatic channels. Many people name this condition as 'Exterminate all opponents', this is only one way to have this certain condition, for some races are wiped out by the Antarans. This means that you can simply defend yourself against the Antarans and wait until they eliminate all other races and you will still win without removing any races.
- Get Elected as the Supreme Leader of the Galaxy.
To get elected you need two-thirds of the total votes (abstentions count as votes against both candidates); each empires' votes are based on the population of its people. Therefore, getting elected requires a combination of diplomacy and conquest.
- Destroy the Antaran Homeworld.
Destroying the Antaran Homeworld requires the player to travel to the Dimension that the Antarans inhabit with a fleet strong enough to destroy them.
Victory cannot be obtained by conquering or becoming the 'Master' of Orion. Contrary to the title of the game.
The Technology Tree
Listed below are the 8 technology branches and examples of relating technologies:
- Industrial Structures (e.g. Automated Factory)
- Ground to Air Defenses (e.g. Missile Base)
- Orbital Bases (e.g. Orbital Bases)
- Ships (e.g. New Hulls)
- Ship Upgrades (e.g. Extended Fuel Cells)
- Pollution Control (e.g. Pollution Control Building)
- Missiles (e.g. Zeon Missile)
- Hull Plating (e.g. Titanium Armor)
- Morale Stuctures (e.g. Holo Simulator)
- Science Structures (e.g. Super Computer)
- Targeting Systems (e.g. Structural Analyzer)
- Command Point Upgrades (see Command Points below)
- Scanning Equipment (e.g. Space Scanner)
- Energy Weapons (e.g. Stellar Converter -see below)
- Wormhole Application (e.g. Jump Gate)
- Bombardment Artillery (e.g. Nukes)
- Speed Upgrades (e.g. Augmented Engines)
- Firepower Upgrades (e.g. Hyper-X Capacitors)
- Torpedoes (e.g. Plasma Torpedo)
- Budget Management (e.g. Galactic Currency Exchange)
- Military Training (e.g. Space Academy)
- Diplomacy (e.g. Xeno Psychology)
- Government Types (e.g. Advanced Government)
- Farming (e.g. SubTerranean Farms)
- Bio-Warfare (e.g. Death Spores)
- Terraforming (e.g. Gaia Transformation)
- Medical Advances (e.g. Universal Antidote)
- Force Fields
- Cloaking (e.g. Phasing Cloak)
- Shields (e.g. Quantum Fields)
- Physical Projectile Weapons (e.g. Gauss Cannon)
Each technology branch is divided into tiers, each of which contains 1 to 3 technologies. Only one technology is researchable per tier unless the race has the Creative perk. Creative races reasearch all tech per tier, (unlike normal races which only get to choose one), uncreative races get a random tech per tier.
Other ways to obtain Technology include: Trading, Spying, Planetary Conquest, or Capturing and Dismantling ships.
A notable Technology above is the Stellar Converter which has the ability to destroy an entire planet after all orbiting fleets and ground to air defense has been destroyed. Launching the Stellar Converter enacts a short video of the planet being blown up and turns the planet into an asteroid belt. The use of this device for this purpose can effect diplomatic relations with many races, in good and bad ways. The Stellar Converter is also Planet mountable as a ground to air defense system.
Diplomacy in Master of Orion 2 is quite vast in it's scope, with a large range of diplomatic negotiations available:
- Star Systems (which include all colonies orbiting a star under the players control)
- Star Systems
- Stop Spying
For Money, Star Systems, or other Technologies
For Star Systems, or other Technologies
- Star Systems
For Money, Star Systems, or other Technologies
- Non- Aggression Pact
The Diplomacy screen also allows allocation for the player to allocate spies for both offensive and defensive positions.
Space Combat is controlled in Master of Orion 2 in two ways, each of which the player may choose at the start of the game:
In this mode the player has control of each battle and where the ships move on a 2-dimensional grid. Ships may be designed and fleet size is only limited by the amount of command points an empire has (see below). An 'Auto' mode is available for battles at the player discretion, this mode puts both sides in the hands of the AI and fast forwards the battle with little animation or detail.
In this mode the game AI takes control of all of the battles. This is different to the 'Auto' mode above as the player does not watch the battle commence, instead the player receives a battle report that depicts the outcome in minor detail. This mode is based solely on numbers and technology, more advanced players may find that choosing Strategic versus Tactical mode will change the outcome of the same battle in their favor.
Planet bombardment or invasion can only commence when all ground to air defenses, Orbiting Bases and Ships have either been eliminated or fled from battle.
Ground Combat is automated in both modes much like Strategic mode above the battle is automated but it is displayed in 'real time' for the player to watch. Variables include: Numbers, offensive and defensive technology, Racial benefits and Leaders (were present).
Depending on ship size every ship requires 'Command points'. These points are provided by Orbital Bases which can be constructed at cost above the players colonies. Some technologies allow an increase to how many points each Orbital Base can provide. Command Points can also be bought, this occurs when the amount of points needed total for all the ships in the players fleet, exceed the command points available. This is quite costly and normally is used as a temporary measure.
Master of Orion 2 was originally developed for MS-DOS, which was followed by a Windows 95 version and then a Mac OS version. Currently many fan made patches and compatibility tweaks keep the game playable on modern operating systems.
Master of Orion 2 supports a multitude of ways to play with others,
The turn-based nature of the game means that multiple players can use ONE computer and take turns. This is the slowest of the modes as for one turn to complete all players must have done a turn each.
Windows players could play Multiplayer games via Total Entertainment Nework (TEN). However TEN was discontinued in 1999, however current players have found that the networking code had serious faults; so most online games today are played with the MS-DOS version running in DOSBox in combination with Kali.
- Serial Link
Serial Link was a way of linking two PCs together before ethernet cables were prevelent, this process required two copies of the game, two PCs and a Serial Cable.
LAN is exactly the same as LAN is today on modern PCs, any PC with a copy of the game on a particular network can join. Upto 8 Players.
Awards and Acclaim
MOO2 won the Origins Award for "Best Fantasy or Science Fiction Computer Game " in 1996 .
Received the Following scores from the following publications:
- PC Zone [Published 8/13/2001] 92 out of 100
- Computer Games Mag [Published 12/08/2003] 3.5 out of 5
Sequels, Prequels and Past Games
Master of Orion 2 is the sequel to the original '4x' game: Master of Orion
A sequel to Master of Orion 2, Master Of Orion 3, was published in 2003; which received unfavorable reviews.