Initial Impressions of GalCiv II

As I predicted in last week's post, I've gone ahead and downloaded Galactic Civilizations II. Installation process went smoothly and easily (relatively high download speeds as well), but while I enjoy the game as a whole, I found a few things baffling. Here are my initial thoughts:
    Lightning Class Battle Cruiser (click for larger image and more details)
    Lightning Class Battle Cruiser
  • I need a new computer! Or, at the very least, I need to upgrade my existing computer with a newer graphics card to take advantage of the new graphics. However, the game is perfectly playable even with my turn-of-the-millenium hardware, which is actually quite nice (hard to believe that this computer is almost 6 years old!).
  • I haven't yet made up my mind about the planetary maintenance changes. So far, I haven't encountered anything bad, but I can see certain things getting on my nerves later. Initially, I thought it was very confusing, but the way "upgrades" are automatically added makes it much easier to handle than other games of this type that I've played (which is to say, not many).
  • War is fun! One of my big complaints about the old game was that military conquest was somewhat annoying. In this game, you can customize your ships with various styles of weaponry and shields, and you can build your ships to capitalize on the weaknesses of your enemies (i.e. defend against their weapons, while circumventing their defences with your weapons). The ship building interface is a little confusing at first, but I think I'm starting to get a little better (it probably would have helped if I watched the tutorials instead of just jumping into the game). However, my designs are tremendously boring compared to the stuff I linked to last week.
  • My big complaint is that I lost. However, what's annoying about this is not so much that I lost as that I have no idea why I lost. Update: I'm pretty sure the problem I was having was my own doing. I had started a war with the Drengin empire, and after a few initial setbacks, I had managed to completely decimate their fleet (courtesy of the Lightning class battle cruiser). I was preparing my planetary invasion when all of the sudden, the game just stopped and said I lost (and there was no explicit explanation about why I lost or who actually won). However, I was able to go back a few turns and start my invasion again, and I continued the game without running into this again. I thought perhaps one of the other races ran away with it while I wasn't looking, but glancing at the statistics, I could see no obvious reason why. The only thing I can think of is that there was some sort of time limit, but that doesn't make much sense. Perhaps it was just a fluke (I sure hope so!)
Aside from the odd and frustrating ending, I really enjoyed the game. I'm hoping the ending thing is just a minor bug that won't come up again, but I guess we'll see. I apologize if this entry seems a bit sparse, but if the game hadn't ended so abruptly, I probably still would have been playing (and no entry would have been posted at all). Expect more later in the week.

Update: Ok, so I must have accidentally surrendered (instead of offering a peace treaty) from the diplomatic dialogue. That's the only thing I can think of that would have caused the defeat. I just went back to my saved game and was able to mop up the rest of the Drengin empire without a problem (except that once I really had their backs to the wall, the surrendered their one remaining planet to another alien race, dammit!) So the problem I encountered seems like a fluke, which is great news!

Update II: After I figured out what happened, I went back and played more and the game is truly excellent. My only complaint is that the ship design interface is a little difficult to use at times... but the good far outweighs the bad when it comes to that feature, as it is one of the coolest aspects of the game, allowing you to interject your own personality on the game...

Update III: I've written up a game example...