Overall Score 60%
Those of us who remember a board game called Risk will be instantly at home with this game. Take command of an army of starships, and order them between stars to battle against your enemies. Cut off your enemy's forces and overwhelm them. Keep your supply lines going. Build up superior numbers. Use cunning tactics. Conquer the galaxy! Victory can be yours...
Pax Solaris is an entirely mouse driven game (with the exception of entering your initials for the high score tables) where you play either against the computer or against other human players (online or in 'Hotseat' mode, where you take turns). Click on a star to select it and then on a connected star to give orders. Ships then move from the first star to the second, and new arrivals will continue to do so, until you cancel that order.
I could go on in detail about the combat system, and how ships get damaged and repaired, and so on, but the game tutorial explains this much better than I could. Try learning to divide and conquer, splitting one star off from any supply routes and forcing the enemy to surrender, instead of having them escape to friendly stars, forcing you to fight them all over again.
The game is easy to install and play, and the mouse interface is very simple (though giving orders takes a little getting used to). There are many campaigns to try with a variety of sizes and complexities, or you can construct your own in the editor. Since Pax Solaris is so quick to start up, and an average game takes a few minutes, I found it an excellent way to take a break from work!
The graphics in Pax Solaris are very basic. There is virtually no animation and the displays, though well rendered and easy on the eye, are both static and obviously two-dimensional. They are, however, easy to understand: one can see at a glance the state of battle over the entire galaxy, which is arguably more important.
As for sound, I would have loved some background noises to signify (say) a conquered system, or being under attack. The tiny score is because I only found one sound effect in the entire game, being the pop when you click on a button. Even a fanfare after completing a campaign would be nice.
The editor is excellent. It is simple to use and fairly intuitive, and allows you to create new campaigns or modify existing ones. This means you can create your own scenarios or tweak one or two small factors to see how the battle turns. It even lets you test your creations and balance out your armies by running simulated battles.
Pax Solaris is not everyone's cup of tea, but a worthy game for those keen on strategy warfare, or interested in killing a little spare time.
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