The update includes many bug fixes, a host of minor improvements to the AI for both the strategic and tactical layer, and two new features: a brand new race and faction, The Gray Order, who come complete with eight new ship models and random faction selection so factions can be randomly chosen when setting up a custom game.
Armada 2526 continues the great tradition of space opera games. You guide your race from its first interstellar journeys, until it becomes a mighty galactic empire. Along the way, you'll explore the galaxy, conduct research, diplomacy and trade, found new colonies, maneuver mighty star fleets, and fight epic battles. Although the game is complex, and the possible strategies endless, powerful help and advisor features help you get up to speed quickly. Unlike many games in this genre, Armada 2526 boasts a streamlined play system, providing games that can be finished in a reasonable time, and emphasizes battle and strategy over economic micro-management.
Some major features include:
- Turn-Based Strategy Map - The strategy map shows the portion of the galaxy where the game takes place. Here you'll maneuver your fleets, manage your colonies, and grow your empire. The emphasis in this part of the game is thinking and planning, so you can spend as much time as you want planning your strategies, and issuing orders. When you're done, hit the "end turn" button, and your orders will be carried out simultaneously with those of other players.
- Epic Space Battles - Battles can be epic affairs with more than a hundred ships on each side. They are presented to the player in their full majesty via real-time 3D rendering with glowing energy beams, shimmering shields, and spectacular explosions. The action is real-time, both to enhance the visual spectacle, and to introduce elements of tension and pressure; however, the emphasis is firmly on tactics and maneuvering formations, rather than frantic clicking on individual ships, and you always have the option of pausing the battle to issue orders. Planetary assaults are especially intense with ship to ships battles, ground battles and ground to air battles all taking place simultaneously. If the attacker doesn't complete the conquest quickly enough, the battle will continue into the next turn, giving each side the chance to throw in reinforcements.
- Diplomacy - With so many players, you need a full featured diplomatic system. In Armada 2526 you can negotiate offensive and defensive alliance, non aggression pacts and trade agreements. Trade money, technology, colonies, ships and information. You can issue threats and ultimatums, or ask for favors. Friendships can be made and trust earned, or your reputation can be ruined by bullying and not honoring agreements. Negotiations proceed by a series of offers and counter offers. Hard bargaining can drive the price down, but being generous builds friendships. During negotiations, you see an animated view of your counterpart, so you know who you are dealing with, and how they feel.
- Technology - There are many different technology items to research. The game system encourages you to specialize in particular areas of tech, so as you expand and meet new players, you will find that they have radically different capabilities. Many of the technologies are disruptive, and force you to radically alter your strategy and tactics to utilize them, or to cope with the lack of. You may for instance concentrate on building the biggest and best navy in the galaxy, and then watch in dismay as your ships flee from and opponent who has mastered the psychic arts, or are outmaneuvered by an adversary who has specialized in stealth or hyper space technology. You may have turned your planets into fortresses, but this won't help if they are infected by nanobots that eat defenses from the inside out, or if your opponent is impolite enough to drop an asteroid on your favorite colony.
- Powerful AI - The artificial intelligence routines have been created by an expert in the field, to provide AI players that are both worthy adversaries, and opponents that are fun to play against. The A.I. has been built into the game from the beginning of development and updated to take advantage of new game features as they are added, giving the developers the maximum time to polish its behavior. This is in contrast to many games, where the AI is tacked on at the end of development. Of course the same powerful routines developed for the opponents, are also available to assist the player in managing their empire, and to offer game play advice.
Ntronium Games; founder, R.T. Smith, has been creating strategy games for more than 20 years, including the original 4x space classic Armada 2525. Most recently he was the project director and lead designer for Medieval 2: Total War, having earlier served as designer and programmer on the previous Total War games.
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