The Let's Play Archive

Master of Orion 2

by Thotimx

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Original Thread: Another Load of Bull - Let's Play Master of Orion 2: Battle at Antares



By popular request, I'm playing the second game in the Master of Orion series of venerable-until-it-wasn't 4X games. It's been done a couple times in narrative style by noted bard nweismuller. Over a decade ago, GrandpaPants also did one. This will be more gameplay-focused, similar but much shorter than my adventures with the original here. I'm not nearly as good at this game, so don't expect similar shenanigans.

Master of Orion II was produced in 1996 by Simtex Software, published by Microprose. That's the same duo that made the first game a few years earlier, but not the same project lead. Moo2 was very well-received, and there are still many who consider it the finest 4x ever made. For anyone who didn't follow the first LP, I think the original is one of the Top 5 strategy games. However, contrary to popular opinion, I don't hold this one in as high regard. It's an above-average strategy game, better than most -- but I don't consider it a classic and definitely not at the same level of the debut title. I'll explain and hear counterarguments I'm sure as to the why of all that.

A lot of this is probably nostalgia-based; i.e., what game you played first is probably the one you like the most. I'll do my best to give more solid reasons for what I think than that.

Wasn't there a Master of Orion game more recently?

Yeah, but we don't talk about those :P. My working title for a while was going to be At Least It's Actually a Sequel, because frankly I don't think that can be accurately said of the last two entries. Master of Orion III, Libluini's continuing efforts aside, killed the franchise for a while and with good reason. It's one of the great cautionary tales in game development history, up there with Rome: Total War II and a few others in the pantheon of 'what not to do'. The more recent reboot in 2016 is essentially a modernized, dumbed-down version of our subject matter for this thread.

Neither of them, especially III, deserve the name printed on the box. Master of Orion II is a legit sequel that generally stays true to the spirit of the original. In that, it stands alone among the other attempts.

For the record, Steam says the following:

** Master of Orion 1 - 86% positive
** Master of Orion 2 - 96%
** Master of Orion 3 - 45%. Never let it be said that people are too negative. This isn't nearly negative enough.
** Master of Orion 2016 - 58%

This reflects the general consensus again that the first two are considered classics, with II the pinnacle of the series - and that the more recent efforts have been lacking, to put it charitably.

Are you going to win with every race on Impossible again?

No. This will once again be a hybrid LP in the same style, mostly screenshots but videos for representative combats. I plan to do at least a couple successful games - and hopefully not too many failures - so I'll give a good taste but I won't be exploring every possible eventuality. Also, this may or may not be a dual LP, in the sense that Wayne was at some point going to do some MOO2 videos of his own as a joint effort. I don't know if that's still planned, since he's been quite busy lately - but it may be a thing. If you read this Wayne, you're still invited.

I think Moo2 IS the best in the series. Can't you show it a little charity?

They tried, they really did. The game is ambitious and improves on the original in many respects. They got many things right, and I think their minds were generally in the right place. My aim here is to be harsh but fair - where it outshines MOO1 in my opinion I'll make a point of saying so. My contention though is that none of those improvements are in the final analysis nearly as important as the things they screwed up. It's hard to make a good sequel. It's REALLY hard when you're following up a good original. So while this game admittedly is being judged, at least by me, in comparison to quite a high bar, they did put 'Master of Orion' not 'Generic Space Strategy X' on it, so I think it's a proper approach. Bottom line: it's a quality game, worth playing. Just not an all-time great.


Have at it, just use the tags for anything that gets close to talking about that creature on the box art at the top of this post. If you know enough to spoil it, you know what I'm talking about. No need to tag stuff like talking about tech advances and the like. Most people will probably have played the game before, but I don't want to totally assume that will be the case.

I'm also going to come right out here and say that I'll be very interested in hearing strategic advice from the experts on this game, esp. in the first playthrough. So on that spoil, spoil, spoil away.

Longhorn Legends

Here's what's got us all chasin' circles in the pasture so far.

Hard Normal

In which I get myself well and truly waxed by a fast-expanding menace.

Setting the Stage: First Game Setup
Grasping the Very Basics: The First Turn
Learning the Essentials
Leaving the Cradle
Callisto or Bust
To Callisto … and Beyond!
Something Something Plan Enemy Contact With Ever Survives The No
UI Wrap-Up
All Cramped Up and Nowhere To Go
Between a Rock and a Gang of Wannabes
Fighter Details (Olesh)
A Dastardly Betrayal
Combat Hit Mechanics (Olesh)
A Grave Mistake
Humanity Strikes Back … or Dies Trying. Probably the Second One
Shields & Damage Mechanics (Olesh)
The Grim Reaper Cometh


Custom Psilons, Hard/Huge/Antarans, in which I aim for maximum science and the new ending.

TechnoGeek Opening
A Quiet Galaxy
The End of the Beginning
Habitable Area and You: A guide to Maximum Population (and Food) On Planets (Olesh)
How I Learned To Stop Worrying And Just Hand Over All My Tech
The Antarans are Coming!
A Whole Lotta Micro Goin' On
This Neighborhood Blows
War Is Upon Us
Mrrshan Squeeze
Ship Design & Tactics Effortpost (Olesh)
Peace is a Lie, but so is War. And everything else, come to think of it.
This Galaxy Blows
Klackon Krush
Let's Talk About Missiles Some More (Olesh)
Back to the Designing Board
Tipping Point
Micro All The Day Long
Bye-Bye Bugs
Smashing the Rocks
Beam Weapon Scaling (Olesh)
Evolving Towards Perfection
A Billion Strong … And Growing
A Valiant - and Ill-Advised - Raid
Too Many Beakers
Palpatine Was a Child Playing With Toys

Custom Elerians, Hard/Small, Going for maximum combat

What Do I Even Do Here …
You Say Federation, I say Faileration
Between the Rocks and a Hard Place
The Dumbest War
An Uneasy Recovery

Stock Klackons because Uncreative, first and only Impossible run, Medium galaxy

A Final (Stiff) Challenge
Limited Options
Antaran Airheads
The Peace Ends … In Theory
Any Ball of Rock in the Storm
The Only Good Meklar Is An Enslaved Meklar
Freedom and Mixed Success
Gnolam Grind

Thot's Thoughts: Post-Mortem
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