They say that in space, no one can hear you scream… however, none of my spaceships could be equipped with a giant boxing gloves, so I guess that means that no one can get punched in space this go around either. So how is AMPLITUDE Studio’s newest 4x space sim compare to I Fight Bears’ side-scrolling nut-kicking fest? While you may already be drawing your own conclusions, let’s keep a level head about this. There is plenty to separate these two titles for good and for awesome. Let’s break down what makes Endless Space 2 (ES2 from here on out) and FIST OF AWESOME (FOA from here on out) so great and figure out which one is better.
Some may feel it can be unfair to compare an Early Access game to a full release game. To them I say, life isn’t fair at times, so we’ve got to take it on the chin and keep up the fight. ES2 has its fair share of annoyances, but by “fair share” I mean I’ve encountered two bugs. The first is depicted above. The right-click stopped working and left-click went crazy so the research queuing went really funky. The second hiccup was when at the end of the enemies turn, where it should have been the start of mine, the game “froze” on me. Froze was in quotes because I could click on everything and move the map around, but since it was never really my turn, I couldn’t enter menus or access any other options with my fleets. Both of these problems were solved with reloading ES2. FOA really only has the lack of an escape option and that can lead you to getting stun-locked to death. That’s not really a glitch, but holy crap it’s annoying.
The only other thing that can irk me in ES2 was the difficulty. The issue here is that I made the game harder for myself than it could have been. I tend to play 4X games all the same. I make peace with everyone and slowly build up my war machine. When it is sufficiently large enough, I move out and take control of the galaxy/map. Peace was never really that entertaining to me even though in every other game my inner-paladin comes out to play. In 4X games, it doesn’t seem to matter. There wasn’t as much of a difficulty setting in FOA so the difficulty curve came from learning distance and timing of your attacks in coordination with how the enemies normally react. There’s no time limit so, so if you’re patient, things can go smoothly for you… or at least they have a good possibility of it going smoothly.
When I loaded up ES2 for the first time (and chose the hardest difficulty setting because it’s Early Access and that’s all there is) and decided to just go with the race that fits how I normally play. I picked the Cravers because they can’t make peace with anyone. It’s a neat approach, but really did make it a bit more difficult than I would have liked. I like playing the wolf in sheep’s clothing. Picking the Cravers made it feel more like a wolf among other wolves who simply don’t like you. In that sense it’s harder, at the same time, there was no dealing with peace deals and trade and keeping everything on the up and up. Meanwhile, FOA surrounds you with enemies so in the grim dark future, there is only war and you’ve got to bring it to the bears. Your army is your body and you’ve got to break everything that gets in your way. I like that you can play as Santa Claus though; that’s a light in the darkness for yah. Next time I start a new campaign in ES2, however, I’ll probably pick the Sophons, they have the coolest looking ships. (Yes, of course that matters!)
Ships… yeh, space ships. ES2 has space ships and each race has their own variant of the same ships. Fun enough, you can modify them and create your own variants. You still have to pay for them and it can get pretty costly if you don’t have the resources for them… especially if your race destroys planets like they’re going out of business (once again, thanks a lot Cravers). I have to assume that other races make it easier on you. There are different classes of ships each with a unique-ish look to them (definitely when they get bigger). Building an army doesn’t seem to be too costly if you continue to expand like one should in this game.
Story-wise, ES2 kind of loses out here. There is an unfolding story that will drag on depending on how you play. It’s got side-quests and lots of things to click on and progress, but in that sense it feels more like an RPG of sorts. There isn’t too much of a story going on here other than your race chipping out a place in the universe for yourself and not others. FOA’s story, while basic, is still more prevalent and you’re basically reminded of it throughout all of the breaks in the action. It’s not that the story is in your face, but that it’s more active in the game. It’s something you play through where as in ES2, it feels more like a game where you make up your own story and randomly a GM will come in and say that you are likely to be attacked by a grue and asks what are you going to do about it. It’s more reactionary.