What I like about MOO2 and SOTS is how far they go with applying their ideas, as does Homeworld. One of the things that all three games share is how far they go to seperate how each Empire works. For example, SOTS assigns each race a type of movement unique to them, then gives them odds for accessing various bits of the technology tree. Hivers for example get awesome armor and good ballistics, but their energy weapons are questionable, since they are unlikely to get access to them. Furthermore, the Hivers can teleport their forces to other planets, but intersteller travel to hostile worlds either requires the use of Slower Than Light travel which would take many years, or the unreliable Farcaster that has a range of 10 lightyears, and has a chance of missing the mark by 2LY.
As such, Hivers are all about creating HUGE forces to conquer enemy worlds, but their moves are telegraphed. They also have the toughest ships in terms of durability and possibly guncount, but are lacking in speed and special features that the other races may have. Now, what this has to do with MOO2 is that the races of MOO2 get bonuses, perks, and disadvantages that change how they play. The Lithovores for example don't require food, psychic races are much better at cloak and dagger actions, lucky races just do better with random events, while the Creative race can access all technology through sheer research.
In short, we get races that exaggerate their characteristics, which separates how they play out and gives them character. One of SOTS weaknesses is how we can't make custom races like we can in MOO2, but at least it makes sure that every race is unique and viable. SOTS also uses the shape and hardpoints of the ships to determine how they perform in fights, so picking the right combination of weapons, sections, size, and roles of your ships is extremely important. However, SOTS fails on one count for me - the lack of planetary development. In MOO2, we can literally change worlds into Gaia planets, and place facilities on worlds. These facilities offer relatively simple choices, but the complexity comes from what they do and what order you think that you should do them. GalCiv II also allowed us to customize what we put onto planets, but is flawed because it isn't as simple and elegant - much more repetition of clicking is required to fully improve worlds. Furthermore, I liked that we could basically put everything we want onto a planet in MOO2, but that these worlds would automatically scale their performance according to your population size, characteristics, and what deposits or ruins are on a planet.
Now, this leads me to Distant Worlds and how I feel about it. What I like most about Distant Worlds is that it uses artificial intelligence and real-time mechanics to make the galaxy feel more alive. GalCiv II actually did a good job of this aspect by using political parties, decisions, borders, and so on, but the real-time movement in Distant Worlds helped with making things more vibrant. Unfortunately, I feel that the Development of worlds (MOO2) and the Combat (SOTS), or the Politics (GalCiv II) when compared to Distant Worlds, is far superior. I don't mean to dismiss the efforts of CodeForce, but I think that by looking at competitors and figuring out how they make things interesting, Codeforce could make Distant Worlds II a far better game than its predecessor.
< Message edited by Sabin Stargem -- 2/3/2011 10:56:48 PM >