Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade Expansion Pack
Strategy games have been going through some troubled times as of late. The genre is certainly in a much different place than it was during its heyday, which were arguably the 1990s. Ever since the early days of strategy games, attention spans have become increasingly diminished—seemingly exponentially in recent times. The bottomless craving for constant attention or ever-present and persistent stimulation has made a large facet of the gaming industry much shallower.
For instance, real time strategy games, once the reigning flagship of the strategy genre as a whole, have seen a gradual downturn in popularity, as more and more game developers seek to assuage those gamers with the attention spans of goldfish on crack. Meanwhile, gamers such as myself have found it increasingly hard to find any sort of strategy title worth playing, whether they be RTS’s or their cousins, turn-based strategy games.
I had played Galactic Civilizations I back in 2003 (there was a precursor originally published in 1993) as well as GalCiv 2 when it was released a few years later in 2006. Although I did enjoy both games, when GalCiv 3 was announced I thought that it would be the be-all and end-all of space 4X strategy titles.
But alas, when GalCiv 3 finally debuted in 2015, I, along with many other science fiction 4X strategy fans, were left feeling a little underwhelmed after trying it out. Personally, I felt that it was missing some key features that kept it from being great. Where was the espionage system that so many strategy games had implemented in the past? And how about being able to assign governors to your planets and admirals to your star fleets? Although Stardock has release a good number of DLCs since GalCiv 3’s initial release, none have addressed any of the core missing elements which have been keeping fans of the series disengaged.
Well I’m pleased to announce that that has all changed with the release of GalCiv 3’s first major expansion, titled: Galactic Civilizations III: Crusade Expansion Pack. To me at least, Crusade represents what Stardock’s CEO, Brad Wardell, has originally envisioned GalCiv 3 to be.
Perhaps the most game-changing addition to the base game is the introduction of Galactic Citizens. Citizens alter nearly every aspect of the game. In fact, they are one of the main ways in which you can modify your burgeoning civilization’s military, economic, social, and technological elements. Every ten turns your race will produce a single Citizen, whom which you can assign specialized traits before sending them off to do your leader’s bidding.
Going far beyond what I had wanted to see added to the GalCiv 3 (admirals and governors) you can now have such specialized Citizens as entertainers which boost morale, engineers whom can enhance ship builds, and entrepreneurs for providing economic bonuses. In an ingenious twist, you can also have your Citizens provide either micro or macro boosts. For instance, when I first finally got my mitts on an admiral, I found out that I could either assign him as a grand overseer of my entire naval forces and thereby receive lower but race-wide bonuses, or slot him into a specific fleet in order to receive some serious buffs to that particular collection of ships.
Planetary assaults have been reworked significantly as well. Now, instead of just spamming transport after transport at enemy worlds, you have a lot more strategic tools in your galactic war-bag to play with. For instance, when you attack an enemy’s world, you’ll have to assault not only its individual defensive garrisons, but also the cities of the planet as well. Any Citizens stationed on the planets must also be taken into consideration, as many of them have the ability to confer various sorts of perks and defensive modifiers to their forces.
Crusade also introduces a new espionage system to the proceedings. After training a Citizen in the arts of the spy, you can send them off to enemy systems and have them imbed themselves within them. After a while (and at certain intervals) your spies will get the opportunity to carry out some pretty dastardly doings, such as sabotage, stealing technologies, and even carrying out assassinations.
Resources have also been given a major overhaul. Instead of just gaining resources as points, you accrue them over time and eventually will begin to save up stockpiles. The resources that you concentrate on (mainly based on your initial access to them) will allow you to develop all sorts of goodies unique to your civilization, such as specialized ship parts and unique buildings.
The new resource model can really come into play later in games, when certain races basically establishing monopolies over certain resources. It can be devilishly juicy to have a race whom has been particularly snotty towards you, suddenly show up at your ambassador’s doorstep begging for an audience, due to them needing a certain resource which they lack.
Two new alien races and one new human faction have been added to the mix. They mainly serve to highlight the drastically modified new systems that have been introduced with Crusade, as well as provide new ship designs and ship parts.
The game’s UI has also been heavily retooled, and for the better. Previously, if I wanted to perform some mundane task or another, I was forced to navigate through an entire plethora of wonky menus which made me feel as though I was trudging through a massive set of spreadsheets. With the new sleek and streamlined UI, accessing the different aspects of your civilization is a snap. This really lends itself to making (especially multiplayer) games flow much more smoothly, and is a much welcomed revision.
Speaking of revisions, overall Crusades feels much more like a reinvention of the original GalCiv 3 rather than an evolution of it. Which is fine by me—it really encapsulates everything that I’d imaged the vanilla game should have been, and now it is. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that as an expansion pack, it definitely exceeded all of my expectations. If you’re a fan of an excellent strategy experience that you can really sink your teeth into, GalCiv 3 plus the Crusade Expansion Pack is the way to go.
Galactic Civilizations III is loaded with great visuals that will really immerse you in its science fiction universe, but you may need a powerful gaming PC or gaming laptop to play it properly, such as:
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