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    Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain

    Game » consists of 3 releases. Released Oct 31, 1997

    Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain is a 4X real time strategy game.

    dragonbloodthirsty's Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain (PC) review

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    Okay, but tedious and poorly balanced

    Pax Imperia: Eminent Domain is the sequel to Pax Imperia.  It is a 4X game that has some cool things going for it, but gets bogged down on details that make the experience not always fun.

    It starts out alright.  The tech tree is long and deep, so that technologically inclined races usually can count on still being able to research later, and there are enough options available for advancement that you usually do get to plan according to your intended play style (mostly).  The game allows you to spread out your research points, but you'd never actually want to do this.  If spreading your points out actually made any sense at all, this option would be nice.  Instead, doing that leaves you not actually making good progress.  If this were a more genuinely multi-player oriented game, the option might have been useful then, but 4X games don't lend themselves to multiplayer much and Pax is not an exception.

    The ability to design your ships using all the nice little things you learn is great.  There are many different options, most of them useless.  There are "port" and "starboard" weapons, but putting weapons here means they aren't firing most of the time.  Point defense weapons are an interesting option that lets players have better control over their vulnerability to missiles, fighters, and mines.  The other ship options are pretty good, as the designer has to consider how he wants to spend the space in his ship's hull, and to a lesser extent the cost of the ship.  As more technology is developed, older components get smaller, but the difference is usually not significant over the useful lifetime of the technology.  Unfortunately, you are not able to design the fighter craft, which is a major strike against this game, because your fighters are your best ships.

    Combat is sort of fun, but not well balanced.  It takes place on a special map accessed via the F9 key.  Most of the combat is good, but fighters are overwhelmingly powerful, especially over time.  Ships that launch fighters tend to have little else for defense except the ability to run to a far corner of the map, but fighters are so powerful that they tend to just win the battle before enemies can close for combat.  Because fighters can be rebuilt quickly, 

    Upgrading your ships with the latest technology is also a pain in the butt.   However, if you don't upgrade your ships, you don't get to carry your veteran crews over when you develop new technology.  This is a major flaw, because so much of the game flows naturally, but this interrupts the flow of the game.

    Building new ships and colonies is slow.  The inability to quickly build ships, coupled with the difficulty of maintaining more than a single large fleet (due to high maintenance costs), combined with the fact that a your ships do better in a single big fleet than individually, and most of the major conflicts boil down to "Build huge fleet, smash into enemy fleet", so that if you win you win the battle you are often able to take multiple systems while your opponent struggles to rebuild.  If you lose, and the game is late enough, your enemies will crush you so that you basically lose the game, even if you do hold onto a vestigial empire for a little while longer.

    Espionage is somewhere between useless and brutal.  For the strong espionage races, the powerful missions like "incite revolt" give you ways to take planets without having to risk your fleets to do it.  There are also a number of other semi-useful missions, like "Sabotage ships" or "sabotage planets", which can cut down your opponent's defenses.  Unfortunately, these missions are unreliable (only given a chance of success), such that they aren't very dependable.  By the time the mission actually works, you rarely care anymore.  The ability to steal technology does help even out the difficulty against tech empires.

    The biggest draw of this game is the ability to design your own race, which isn't really all that unique.  You are able to choose a number of different options regarding which worlds you will find habitable, as well as the production rates for different points.  The biggest deal on this screen are the traits, such as "builder" or "aquatic", which allow you to get huge bonuses in a few related areas for only a couple points.  Other abilities are ridiculously powerful, such as "Psychic", which doubles your espionage defense and also allows you vision of every star system (as if your ships were present).  These abilities are fun, and also help define what your race is good at.

    The basic gameplay for a 4X game is all there.  I do enjoy playing the game.  However, there are some grievous balancing issues (such as fighters being insane), and there are a lot of little nit-picky things that annoy me when I play.  Glossing over these things tends to mean you're playing sub-optimally, which isn't fun either.  While the game is not without redeeming features, most other 4X titles will be able to provide a similar or better experience.

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