Remember those game-changing events that would occasionally pop up in earlier GalCiv games? When the game was purring along, conquest will in hand, and all of a sudden the Dread Lords would pop out and throw the galaxy into chaos? Well, Dark Avatar gives these “Mega-events” their due. While not always game-shattering, these semi-random events are calculated by the game to make the biggest shake-up possible. Honestly, I really didn’t care for these events before, but they do make for some interesting challenges when they show up. Like most things in Dark Avatar, however, these Mega-events are entirely optional, perfect for those times when a little something different is wanted.
While I would have been happy with nothing more than all the improvements to the basic sandbox game, Dark Avatar also brings along another very good campaign to further the GalCiv storyline. Set just after the goings on in the Dread Lords campaign, there’s a new, rather evil boss in the galaxy. The Drengin are the “heroes” of the current campaign, and they’re out to see that the galaxy fits nicely under their boot, enslaved and properly cowed. Unfortunately, a splinter sect of the Drengin, the Korath, have taken a much more extreme view on their place in the galaxy, and that view doesn’t include the other races in any way. So it’s up to the Drengin to keep the rest of the galaxy alive and ripe for the exploiting. Of course, not everything is as it seems, and some old “friends” make an appearance in a well-done set of scenarios. The missions are a very nice mix, with some surprisingly fun objectives (the combination of “stealth” and the Drengin just tickled me for some reason).
Dark Avatar is an incredible expansion, and I’ve barely scratched the surface in the last few weeks of play. With so many improvements, both subtle and obvious, Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar is one of the few titles that I would heartily recommend to just about everyone. This is exactly what a 4X game should be.
Dark Avatar is a great expansion to a fantastic franchise. This is the highest score I’ve given, and Dark Avatar earns every point. This is 4X strategy at its finest.
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