Galactic Civilizations II: Dark Avatar Review


If youíre reading this review, chances are that youíre already a big fan of the excellent space strategy game Galactic Civilizations II (GC2). After all, Dark Avatar is an expansion for the original GC2. Iím therefore going to assume that youíre already familiar with GC2 and if youíre not I direct you to our GC2 review to see what the gameís all about. Now that thatís out of the way, letís see whatís in store for all of you space emperors out there when you play Dark Avatar.

Dark Avatar gets its name from the new campaign game included in the expansion. The campaign presents an interesting scenario in which the Drengin Empire is faced with a schism in its empire. A breakaway group apparently feels that the Drenginian policy of mass enslavement is too lenient and begins to wipe out the populations of entire worlds. Your job as the Drengin leader is to unravel the mystery behind this rogue faction and put an end to their activities before they manage to kill off all of your potential slaves. I realize that many GC2 players arenít all that interested in campaigns and prefer just to jump into the full strategic mode, but even those who fall into this camp would benefit from playing through this campaign. Not only does it provide an interesting storyline, the missions tend to emphasize a particular aspect of the game and so serve to hone your game playing skills. Plus thereís plenty of challenge to be had here as this campaign is no walk in the galactic park. How easy do you think it is for a slave mongering race to achieve a diplomatic goal?

Many players of GC2 immediately fell in love with the gameís ship designer. This powerful and easy to use tool gives you the freedom to create an amazing variety of good looking ship models to populate your fleets. If you were one of those people, then you may want to buy Dark Avatar for the ship designer enhancements alone. Not only do you get a plethora of new ship parts, the existing ones have been given a little sprucing up so that your ships will look better than ever. With the Dark Avatar enhancements, you can use the ship designer to create just about any famous ship from your favorite Sci-Fi show or movie or to create an entirely new design more to your liking.

The four most significant additions to gameplay come in the form of superpowers, galactic events, espionage, and planet colonization. Now races come with an inherent superpower that gives them a leg up on the other races in one key area. A race with diplomatic power will find that negotiations and diplomacy go more smoothly and are more fruitful, while a manipulator race will have an easier time getting their rivals to go to war against each other. Galactic events affect multiple races and cross empire boundaries, such as a plague which cuts a swath across the stars. They add a random element to the game and can be significant enough to turn the tide of the game in another direction.