60 Minute Review* of…
Master of Orion 3
Tom's review: One of the most immediate facts about
Master of Orion 3 is that, no matter where you turn, you'll run
smack dab into a nearly impenetrable wall of numbers. Contrast this
with SimTex's first two Master of Orion titles, affectionately dubbed
MOO1 and MOO2. They relied on Sid Meier's Civilization model, in
which icons were used to represent discrete and easy-to-understand
units. One population point eats one grain bushel. Learning the
wheel costs one hundred test tubes. Building the Great Pyramids
takes one thousand of whatever those industry icons were supposed
to be. The first two Master of Orion games used these sorts of immediately
recognizable symbols, lined up neatly against backdrops of the planets
that were creating them. It had personality and clarity.
Now comes MOO3. The following scenario features Real Numbers from
the Actual Game: you harvest 970 minerals from seven dominant economic
areas, of which 585 are used by the planet's 4,643 industry points
to somehow create 3,778 production points. These production points
are then used for the pair of production queues two screens deeper
into the game at a rate according to a color-coded ratio of return,
with a pollution penalty automatically figured in, not to mention
the additional money, which is entirely separate from production
points, that can be automatically allocated to these production
queues from the different grants on the imperial economic adjustments
panel four screen away where your imperial taxes are divvied up,
as opposed to each planet's individual taxes, which are drawn from
its gross domestic production, which is where I lost track of what
was going on and officially have no idea how or even if this relates
to my planet's production points, because I've long since lost interest
in trying to figure out how the economy of MOO3 works. Not to worry.
Your planetary viceroy takes care of all this.
From the manual: "Your planetary viceroy handles
some construction tasks without informing you of the details."
And by 'some construction tasks', it means 'all construction tasks'.
You see that little 'Planet econ AI' checkbox? Don't think your
viceroy will be deterred if you disable it with some silly notion
of running the planet's economy yourself. He'll continue to build
stuff on the planet however he sees fit, sometimes even overriding
your choices. He will let you wade four screens deep into the production
queue, which he'll kindly leave empty. Otherwise, your participation
is the viceroy's way of humoring you. Your viceroy doesn't really
need you bugging him. As far as he's concerned, your job is to hit
the 'turn' button so the computer can get down to crunching all
* Note: "60 Minute Review"
is a riff on the title of Quarter to Three's short review format,
which we called 60 Second Reviews. It is not a measure of how long
I've played the game! I've completed three games on medium difficulty,
each lasting well past 300 turns, and I've played into about a dozen
more for varying amounts of time and at different difficulty settings.
February 21, 2003
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