Ascendancy

Publisher: The Logic Factory
Release Date: 1995
Review Date: April 1996
Operating System: DOS
Rating (1-10): 10
Ascendancy is the most complete space conquest game that I've played! It has most everything that Orion has from a strategy standpoint, and the graphics are vastly superior to anything that MicroProse has developed over the past several years.

As in Orion, the player has the option of selecting among several races, each with special abilities. The selection of races is considerably more extensive and imaginative than Orion's.

Ascendancy's universe model is three-dimensional, with fixed "jump routes" between star systems. The interface for this model is excellent, with intuitive rotation / zoom, and point-and-click access to items (star systems and ships) on the map. You discover stars progressively through exploration, but the model is completely fixed from the outset of the game. Still, Ascendancy's universe model is a huge improvement over Orion's.

Colony management in Ascendancy has the potential to become a huge nightmare, since each colony is managed in a "SimCity-like" fashion. As with Orion, the intelligent colony-management agent does a lousy job (particularly with making the best use of "special" squares), so you're obliged to keep up with all of this yourself. As the game progresses, this becomes (by far) the most time-consuming task in the game. (I had over 100 colonies in my last game!!)

Technology is developed via a moderately complex (and graphically rich) technology "web". There are no specific realms of study.

Ship creation is richly graphical, but somewhat iconic and, as a result, less extensive than that offered by Orion. (Technologies, for instance, do NOT miniaturize over time, so they always take up one "slot". Ships have a given number of slots, so there's a limit to how much of anything can be loaded onto a ship.) Combat isn't on par with Wing Commander, but it is three-dimensional, and it certainly looks better than anything in Orion.

Diplomacy in Ascendancy is somewhat more effective than in Orion, but it still takes a huge back seat to combat. Spying is similar in effect and implementation to that of Orion.

All in all, Ascendancy is challenging, graphically rich, and fun to play, though it has the tendency (like so many strategy games) to absorb tremendous amounts of time.


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