Posted: December 17
I didn't get to play the original Sword of the Stars II: Lords of Winter on release.The game was so buggy that even the publisher, Paradox Interactive, apologized for it.Paradox has released so many games with so many bugs that they should be immune to criticism by now, so for them to call a game “buggy” is newsworthy.On the bright side, Paradox is also pretty responsive in terms of getting bug patches out early and often. The game was eventually brought into a playable state and some more content was added.Thus resulted the game we have today: Sword of the Stars II: Enhanced Edition.I like complicated games.In general, the more complicated the mechanics are, the more involved I get.Paradox in particular is known for putting out these sorts of mega-games, where the learning curve is tougher than quantum physics and just playing the game is an accomplishment.The point of complexity, however, is to provide the player with meaningful decisions appropriate to their position in the game.SotS2 is a failure at almost every level in terms of making complexity fun. One can play this game for hours and simply have no idea what is going on.In a game like this your decisions should be meaningful.You should know you are making a decision, be clearly presented with all the relevant information, know what your options are, and understand how your decision will impact the game.SotS2 ruins any possibility of making meaningful decisions by completely confusing the player.It's hard to tell when a decision is being made in the first place.To a large extent this is synergistic with another problem: there are so many decisions to be made that it unclear when you are making an important decision and when you're not.The tech tree itself is misleading. Every game you get a different selection of techs, and even among those certain (random) techs will not be available to research this game.There are some very questionable design choices that make just playing the game a pain.The 3D star map is confusing and misleading.The distances between systems are difficult to determine.Rotating the display around to get a better idea of things is headache-inducing and leaves the player lost. Star maps should just stick to being 2D until 3D displays work.Is there anything good about this game?Well, the ships look cool.And the backstory is awesome.When I read the background material and skimmed the intro material this looked like such a cool game.I really, really wanted this to be good. In summary, Sword of the Stars 2: Enhanced Edition is a confused, sprawling mess of a game. The user will spend most their time confusedly clicking on buttons. Overall 6/10.