The Let's Play Archive

Master of Orion 2

by Thotimx

Part 1: Setting the Stage: First Game Setup

Setting the Stage: First Game Setup

Prepare yourself for an lot of exposition. I'm going to try to break it up as best I can by saving anything not strictly necessary for later, but there will still be EPIC WALLS OF TEXT before anything actually really happens. It's the nature of this kind of beast. This update will only get us through the process of getting ready to play - the doing of gameplay itself will begin later.

Also, if you want to see stock race X or custom trait combo Y, you can go ahead and mention those at any time but I'll be doing a poll on what to use for further games partway through our initial foray. For now, we just need to get some basics out the way and get our feet wet first.

Intro Cinematic

Full disclosure: that's not mine, it was just easier to use someone else's upload for this purpose due to the 90s-era penchant for skipping in-game video at the touch of a key ... any key. This basically is just a decent-for-its-time cinematic announcing the Antarans. Who the heck are they? Well, the manual has a bit of background:

This tells us a bit more than the original did, but not much. The Orions we knew about, but now we know the Antarans were their rivals in ancient galactic history. And they assuredly weren't too thrilled about this 'prison dimension' they were trapped in, while the ultimate fate of the Orions is still unknown. Both races are clearly intended to still be shrouded in mystery.

The main menu most notably adds a Hall of Fame and and Multiplayer option to the original.

These are the settings we'll begin with.

Similarly there are more options here than the original. That's a trend that we'll see continuing throughout. What is here are known as the Eight Serious Decisions. No, really. That's what the manual refers to them as, capital letters and all. I seriously laughed out loud the first time I read that.

** Difficulty -- Five levels again, ranging from Tutor to Impossible. I'll be starting on Hard as a 'warm-up'. Did a few test starts on Average and I wasn't having any trouble keeping up with the AI once I re-figured out what I was doing, but I'll definitely need to improve to have any shot at Impossible. That may or may not happen later, depending on how things go. Similar to the first game, harder levels have rivals who are better in research/production than you are - lower levels result in the player having the advantage. Additionally, custom races are only available on Average or higher, and higher difficulties result in opponents generally not liking you on the general principle of your insistence on existing.

** Galaxy Size -- Five here as well. Small/Medium/Cluster/Large/Huge. Ignoring 'Cluster' for the moment, this corresponds 20/36/54/72 stars, which isn't as many as in the original which had over 100 in the huge setup, but here systems can have multiple planets so that more than makes up for it. I'm hoping to get in one game on each of the 'standard' four sizes.

** Fun Fact: The 'Cluster' option was apparently added via 'fan/unofficial' patch. This may be why selecting New Game from the main menu is the only way to get it. You can also start a new game from within an existing save ... but you'll only get the other four choices. So far as I can tell, Cluster has the same amount of stars as 'Huge' - despite using the 'Large' graphic - but more evenly spaced out.

** Fun Fact: I found a steam poll of MOO2 players on what size galaxy was preferred. Huge was the runaway winner with 58%, 17% wanted Large which I think Wayne has recommended, and the others were all at about 10% each.

** Galaxy Age -- This is new. Average/Organic Rich/Mineral Rich. Organic Rich means more biological resources and less industrial, Mineral Rich means the opposite, Average strikes a balance.

** Players -- Up to 8 opponents, which of course I'll be using the max of. Only five were available in the first game. Why we need a Sesame Street - style graphic of the numbers is beyond me; perhaps consistency with the rest of the screen?

** Tech Level -- We can start Pre-Warp, Average, Post-Warp, or Advanced. The higher levels give you more technology and potentially multiple star systems, etc. at the start. The exploration phase can largely be skipped if you like by taking one of the later options. 'Post-Warp' here is another example of something not originally in the game and added later. Pre-Warp is my preferred setting because it gives you the most choice and control. For immediate purposes it will also let me drip out mechanics explanations more gradually.

** Tactical Combat - All ship combat can be auto-calculated if you just want it to basically be a space empire simulator; I'll definitely be keeping this on instead. If it is off, you also can't design your own ships, but only select the preset ones.

** Random Events - I like having these on for flavor, but some of them have ... issues. I'll get to that.

** Antarans Attack - Having this on adds another possible victory condition, and definitely makes things more difficult/complicated. Off for this first game, but I'll add it down the road.

Demonstrating the graphics for the other choices. I'm not taking the time to display the other opponent numbers, but other than that this should cover everything.

Reusing graphics for the 'unofficial changes' - Average and Post-Warp settings have the same.

And the same here with 'Large' and 'Cluster'.

There's more races this time around. And, if I may say so, the art style is just ... bizarre. It looks like someone took the original MOO races and cross-bred them with a grotesque gargoyle. It really struck me the first time I ever fired this up how dark everything is visually. It's clearly intentional, but the interface, cinematics, etc. just don't have a lot of lighting.

The original cast of characters are all here, along with Trilarians, Gnolams, and Elerians. And then we can also choose a Custom race, which means using one of the other race portraits; whatever portrait we choose will then not be represented as an AI in the game. I'm not sure why -- there is a mysterious 'Custom' graphic -- but anywho. Don't worry about the bonii and such listed below each portrait - we'll get to that.

Following after our pointy-headed birdbrain here to represent the Alkari, here are the rest in alphabetical order:

So ... why is it spelled differently now? Darlok became Darlock for some reason.

BTW, MOO3 has some interesting canon on the backstory for these races as well as the one it adds further. It's worth reading - just please, please don't play that game itself. Think of your brain cells. Which need enough attention now that I've subjected to you the 'armor' being worn here.

Humans and Klackons in particular look good IMO, although it's clear the homosapien abandons the 'Star Trek, but less innocent' vibe from the original going with a more 'eastern monk' approach.

NO. The wiry skeletons of MOO were much better. Why did they have to do this to the distinctive cybernetics?? This is just some sort of biped in Purple Power Armor.

It was a bulge-eyed, ridge-faced, twerking Purple People Eater ... nvm.

Different, but I'm cool with it. This is the only MOO in which the cat-people are not explicitly feminine.

No longer with outsized, bulging craniums, the eggheads have become the ... crystalheads? Another off-beat choice that I can accept.

I'm detecting a purple fetish. I don't recall every hearing anyone tell of purple wetlands, which is probably why the Sakkra were, and should remain, green. Apparently Kermit was right when he sang decades ago that it ain't that easy being green.

I don't mind the more aggressive model, but colored like this it seems the avatar is trying to be a combination of Barney and a T-Rex. With entirely too much bling, I might add.

Yep, purplish fetish confirmed. And also - SILICOIDS DON'T HAVE FREAKING ARMS. They are crystalline life forms. I'll take the original cookie monster over this every day of the week, because they are the most unique race in the game. Portrait fail.

Well done here.

The only place this will ever be seen. Not 'used', because again it really isn't. It's just there to remind us that even races customized from non-humanoids, are still humanoid, even though they're not.

Sheesh. Master of Orion 1 didn't even have a custom race option. And look at all this! I've chosen the Humans here and hit Clear. This is known as 'Galactic Normal'. Hence we are the Hard Normal race (I replaced 'Human' at the top with that, you can name yourself whatever you like there). I will go through what all this stuff does at a later time. Right now, it would be sort of trying to explain the finer points of modern fuel injectors to someone who has never heard of an automobile. Let's get some vague clue of game mechanics first, mkay?

Because I forgot to in the original. Also, without the backslash - I couldn't keep that from popping up since it's part of the screenshot hotkey.

Yellow, simply because traditional Humans wore such uniforms in MOO1.

After a few seconds of 'Generating Universe' are so forth. Once we choose our home star's name here, we can actually play. The primary interface is visible behind. And we don't have to worry about remembering to save, since the game will automatically autosave. Yes, autosaves, a newfangled feature nowhere to be found in the first title. Well done.

Until next time, when stuff - of a limited nature - actually happens.