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Gift Guide for Geeks 2003: Play

Volume Number: 19 (2003)
Issue Number: 11
Column Tag: Review

Gift Guide for Geeks 2003: Play

by Michael R. Harvey

Fun time

You simply can't spend all your time in serious work stuff. I don't care what the 7 Habits say, sometimes you just have to goof off. No doubt you have heard of the big boys in the gaming field, Aspyr, and MacPlay. They aren't the only one out there, though. Following are a couple of options you might not normally run across.

Spaceward Ho!

Back in the day, my boss bought version 4 of this game for all the senior staff in the office. Countless hours were lost playing this addictive little strategy game. Earlier this year, Delta Tao finally released version 5. It's a Carbon app for both OS 9 and Mac OS X, and I've once again lost more hours than I care to think about to this game.

As I mentioned, this is a strategy game. The basic idea is galactic conquest. The interface is very intuitive, and easy to figure out. You spend your time enjoying the game play, not supervising the minute details of empire building, and resource management. You build your fleet, move from planet to planet, beat off your enemies, terraform the worlds you can, and strip mine the ones you can't. Sliders let you set how much of your resources you will save and spend on technology, with that amount being divided among what type of technology you want researched. The game is turned based. So, you build, move, and do all the things you need to, then end the turn. After that, the other computer players go, and you get the results in messages, and battle scenes once your turn comes around again. A nice feature of the game is Internet play. You can hook up with others on the Internet, and battle them directly, giving you something besides computer controlled opponent once in a while. The graphics are simple, but eye catching. This really a fun game to spend some down time playing., and at $XXX directly from Delta Tao, it's a bargain.

Escape Velocity: Nova

Now, this game, From Ambrosia Software (www.ambrosiasw.com), is a real winner. Nova is the third installment in the Escape Velocity series, and the first to run on OS X. This is a kind of hybrid game. There are elements of strategy, combat, and story telling in the game. It doesn't fall too much into any one genre. You play this game as one person try to make your way in the galaxy. You can trade good, ferry passengers, become a pirate, any number of different things. There are also story line laced throughout the world you will visit. Take one of them one, and you get to improve your lot while doing some good deed (or not so good, as the case may be) for the other denizens of this place. Improving your lot mainly means getting a bigger and better ship to move around the game in. Better weapons, faster drives, more fuel, that sort of thing. There are so many little details that make this game really fun, that they just can't be listed here.


Escape Velocity: Nova is $XXX, directly from Ambrosia. But, it doesn't end there. The architecture of the game allows for plug-ins to expand and enhance the fun. In fact, Ambrosia re-released the original Escapee Velocity, and EV: Override as plug-ins for Nova, so now you can go back, and play those earlier games, and lose even more time to this fun.

Game Over

Don't just limit yourself to these two offering from these developers. Each has other games, and even useful utilities, to check out. You may find that one game, or, dare I say it, tool you need, or you know someone else on your gift giving list can't live without.


Michael R. Harvey

 
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