Here at Hardcore Droid, we adore hardcore games. I mean, it’s right there in our name. Unfortunately, the mobile market isn’t exactly brimming with truly hardcore games. Since mobile gamers can usually only dedicate five or so minutes to a game at any given time, most of the games out there focus on delivering instant gratification through incredibly simple gameplay. That’s not a bad thing, necessarily—it’s just a side effect of the mobile medium. It’s rare that a mobile game truly pulls out all of the stops to offer gamers an hours-long gaming session complete with elaborate tech trees, micromanaging sprawling empires, and a diplomacy system that’s more tangled than that box of Christmas tree lights gathering dust in your attic. Imperium Galactica 2 is one such game, largely because it was originally never intended for the mobile market. This game was first released back in 2000 during an era of gaming when gritty pixels and complicated skill trees reigned supreme. The first people to play Imperium Galactica 2 did so in front of their clunky, oversized computers that crawled across the Internet with dial-up bleeping and blooping in the background. These gamers didn’t have to worry about finishing the level before their bus reached their destination, or killing five minutes while sitting on the john. They spent hours and hours in front of their computers, so game developers built games that catered to that play style. Imperium Galactica 2 is an incredibly deep and complex game. Fans of the 4X genre should know what to expect. You build and manage sprawling planetary cities, which boost your empire as you research new technologies and expand to neighboring solar systems. The combat is multilayered, forcing the player to control terrestrial assault forces capable of devastating cities before switching over to laser-equipped spaceships for interstellar battles. Three main races allow for you to conquer the galaxy in whichever style you see fit. The Solarians (humans) are experts at researching new technology, the warlike Kra’Hen act as the Klingons of this universe, and the Shinari use intrigue and diplomacy to outwit their enemies. From there, you have a dizzying number of paths as you customize ships, explore planets, and carefully manage diplomatic relations with other alien races. The game’s incredible depth is a double-edged sword, however. As a first time Imperium Galactica 2 player, I will readily admit that it took me a while to learn the ropes. I confidently (and foolishly) jumped into my first game assuming that I would pick things up as I went. I didn’t make it five minutes before I had to quit and hunt down the tutorial. Imperium Galactica 2 is the type of game where you have to thoroughly read the instructions. Don’t be surprised if you pour two hours into your first game only to discover that you’ve been doing everything wrong and you need to start a new game from scratch. Even then, you might want to read an IG2 wiki and check out strategy forums. Like most 4X games, Imperium Galactica 2 is as unforgiving as it is complicated. The dated graphics don’t help to smooth out the learning curve, either. The UI is a bit clunky, and you won’t find many ease-of-use features that have become commonplace in modern games. Also, keep in mind that this game was originally intended for a fairly large computer screen. Tablet users can get by without a hitch, but smartphone users should be warned. Navigating IG2’s already awkward UI on a tiny smartphone screen might be more trouble than it’s worth. To some readers, I suspect that I sound a bit self-contradicting. How can I call the game clunky and unforgiving, but still praise it as a fun experience? Well, I’m reminded of a comic I once saw (click here) that sums up the experience of playing Dwarf Fortress. Have you died time and time again while painstakingly slogging through Dark Souls? Have you poured 20+ hours into a single game of marathon-length Civilization V? If so, then that comic (and Imperium Galactica 2) speaks to you. In a world where game developers hold your hand from beginning to end, it’s refreshing to be catapulted into an unforgiving game that leaves you to work everything out on your own. The challenge of learning the ins and outs of the game while constantly getting slammed by the AI make the eventual victory all the more rewarding. If this sounds like torture rather than entertainment then, well… IG2 just isn’t for you. So don’t let IG2’s dated graphics and steep learning curve scare you off. Imperium Galactica 2 is one of those games that will stick with you long after you stop playing it. After all, there’s nothing quite like pouring hours of your time into a game before witnessing an unforgiving AI reduce your empire to smoldering wreckage. An experience like that will leave you pondering alternate strategies for hour after hour as you wring your hands like an evil mad genius and plot your inevitable revenge. The universe will be yours… next time!
Fans of the 4X genre will delight in a no-holds-barred game that is as challenging as it is fun.