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Galaxies Ablaze
game: Galaxies Ablaze
four star
posted by: Blaine Krumpe
publisher: Onlineworlds.org
developer: Onlineworlds.org
ESRB rating: E (Everyone)
date posted: 12:00 AM Tue Mar 29th, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Tue Mar 29th, 2005

Galaxies Ablaze is an online strategy game played in real time.  As ruler of a planet, you must manage the building of your economy, training of soldiers, defense of your planet, and research into future technologies.  You may also launch attacks and raids on neighboring systems and galaxies.  Alliances will be forged and destroyed in the heat of battle as you seek to become ruler of not only your galaxy with hundreds of players, but the three other galaxies that lay ripe for the taking. 

Starting off in Galaxies can be a little overwhelming and daunting at times.  Upon planet colonization you have 72 hours as Newbie Status.  Once you emerge from these first few days you will be able to launch attacks, spy on enemies, and really get into the guts of what the game has to offer.  As a beginner, I found the layout of controls to be very intuitive and easy to use.  On the left side of the page there is column that contains all of your relevant options for your planet and economy.  Everything from land exploration to the launching of missiles is easily accessible.  But alas, I've gotten ahead of myself; let me first explain some of the options, features, and the overall atmosphere that Galaxies has to offer. 

In my reviews I usually try to restrain myself from going too in-depth into the game controls and options; however, with Galaxies Ablaze there is no graphical interface.  Everything is accomplished through the online command windows.  You watch the numbers of your society grow without actually seeing your units or mining platforms spread throughout your world.  This alone is the biggest draw back to the game; I would have loved to have even a little rotating planet in a corner of my screen that represented what I was doing.  However, Galaxies is a free online community that only gets money from the advertisement windows that are also present on your command screen.  A five dollar donation can easily fix this and set you up in premium account.  Without the ability to comment about the graphics or computer AI in a regular game, my time in this review will be spent discussing the diversity that this game offers with it's simple to use but heavily strategic interface. 

You start out by choosing the type of planet you wish to colonize.  There are eleven planets to choose from, each with their different pros and cons.  If you live on a mountainous planet, you will be provided with abundant resources and a small aid in the defense of your planet, but your energy reserves and power consumption will be higher than other planets because of the mining operations.  In turn, you will have less power in order to support your population and military.  The remaining planets vary from volcanic to oceanic, and provide a diverse mix of advantages and disadvantages.  After you have chosen a world to inhabit, you must then choose a personality type.  There are nine different personalities that have their own bonuses that are specific only to themselves.  You can be everything from a gambler to a belligerent individual; the choice is up to you. 

To expand your world and empire, you must first explore it, in return you will gain land points that in turn can be used to place various buildings upon.  The total amount of land that you own effects how much it will cost to explore more land and grow, you also must have the necessary amount of energy to power the shields over your current land and land that you are acquiring. Land can of course be acquired form other individual's worlds if you have the military might to do so.  Exploration also takes on different roles as discoveries are happening each and every day; you are given tree discovery points that you can use on anything form your population to your research programs. 

Population is another factor you must deal with in order to have a successful planet.  Your overall population is where you draft your soldiers and scientists.  This population also provides you with income in the form of taxes.  If you build more military barracks or civilian residences your population has the potential to grow, however, if you start having less than the required number of residences, some of your population will become homeless and be unable to pay taxes.  Taxes and mines are your only source of money, save for the occasional raid or war victory.  Your money is then used to for exploring land, construction, or drafting and training of your military. 

Power comes from constructed power plants or a successful attack.  Power is used within your military, missiles, special operations shields, your population and the buildings that you have.  The more power you have, the better off you are, however, if your power levels drop below a sustainable level a host of features will slow down your economy and military might.

Research takes some time in Galaxies, some research times are in direct correlation to the amount of land you own, while others are point specific and are determined by the amount of scientists that you devote to each area.  You are able to research various technologies and upgrades, everything from faster power production to guerrilla warfare.  

Speaking of warfare, there are many different units and ways to use them.  Sometimes I found that employing a guerrilla army was more beneficial at times because they didn't require buildings to live in.  There are a diverse number of units that you have to choose from, starting at the lowly infantryman all the way up to star fighters.  You are also able to build three types of shields that protect your land, military, and special ops units.  When you decide to go out amongst the stars and attack other players, you will do so with four generals.  You can combine them or use them all on separate missions, the choice is yours.  Attacking comes in six different forms, varying from a full on assault to a quick and dirty plunder operation.  You send your units around by wormholes, with attacks lasting several hours.  Keep in mind, you will need to keep at least some of your units home to defend against an attacker who sees a window of opportunity on a planet that has sent out most of its forces on raids; I learned this the hard way folks??  Another offensive weapon you may utilize are missiles.  You are able to launch missiles at other worlds and wonders.  You don't get anything in return for shooting a missile, other than the devastation of land and population, but sometimes revenge is a dish best served cold.  Special ops missions are always fun to use.  In the special ops command screen you specify the plant you are attacking and whether or not you will be using twelve different forms of espionage.  All things considered, the potential for victory and destruction in this game are very dynamic in nature. 

For the most part I found the online community at Galaxies Ablaze to be friendly and inviting.  There were of course juggernauts that went around concurring everything with a pulse, but restarting on a new planet is easy and fast.  Alliances can be created and used for mutual sharing of information and for defense or offense.  Galaxies is run by a small and tight-knit developer and publisher team, they have many different games to play online and are supported by ad based revenue.  The ads really didn't bug me at all, however, upgrading to a premium account eliminates these ads and provides in game advancements that the rest of the normal accounts do not have.  

When it comes down to it, Galaxies ablaze is an engrossing, compelling game, it will take more time than you think to play it successfully, but the rewards of conquering a foreign planet that's actually controlled by another individual out on the Internet will bring a sly grin to your face.  The only drawbacks for me were the lack of any graphical command elements, as I said before; even the simplest little planet rotating in the corner would have been a great enhancement.  The learning curve may be a little steep, but once you understand the basics the rest comes really fast.  There is also a Galaxies Ablaze Extreme site devoted to playing the game without rules, sort of like the real universe I guess?.