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We've set aside weeks of leisure time to play the space strategy blender Sword of the Stars, and we were still caught dragging our sorry asses to bed in the wee hours of the morning. It's that good.
Sword of the Stars is being developed by the core team that put together Homeworld: Cataclysm. While the Homeworld series may never be matched in terms of its sheer sense of wonder, lonely atmosphere and operatic space story, SOTS brings an entirely new brand of gameplay that is just as addictive, combining turn-based strategy with real-time battles. It's about a 50/50 blend of empire-builder Masters of Orion and RTS space fighter Homeworld - and the combo does both genres justice.
The turn-based interface is immediately overwhelming, but not for long. The 3D map gives an overall view of the galaxy and each of the stars and their subsystems. This virtual universe is spun around by right-clicking and mousing, zooming in with the mouse wheel - making us feel like Tom Cruise conducting his computer in Minority Report.
We spent a lot of time here, mining information: stars and their subsystems, fleets in transit, Faster Than Light (FTL) routes, planetary incomes, populations and not least of all, interstellar battle reports. Deviating from the spreadsheet-tastic Masters of Orion series, SOTS gives much of the information to you visually, in sharp detail and vivid color. Habitable planets are illuminated with whirring life and unexplored stars churn with angry power.
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