The other day I stumbled in a new Space Strategy Massively Multiplayer Online Game called “The Lacuna Expanse“. It was officially launched at Octover 4th 2010 so its still relatively brand new. I played some space online games already (like Ogame, Cosmic Supremacy, Dark Orbit, Empire Universe II, Orion’s Belt, among others) but this one immediately caught my eye do its not so common clean user interface.
The Lacuna Expanse is a free Massively Multiplayer Online Game (or free MMOG for short). These are games that you play in the Internet where the only thing you need installed in your computer is a web browser. They are free, they really are, but normally if you want to have the full experience or want to benefit from special bonuses you pay small amounts of money also called micro-transactions.
So I tried the Lacuna Expanse for some hours and decided to share with you my experiences.
First the features:
- Play anywhere – web browser or the free iPhone app.
- Socialize, Strategize, or Simulation – work with the players around you by forming alliances or strategize against them by planning their demise. If you prefer simulation games like Sim City, you can stay in isolationist mode, be free from enemies, build your city, explore the galaxy, participate in missions, and much more.
- Full circle economy – produce resources, manage/reuse waste, minimize pollution, keep your citizens happy, and trade freely with other players on the open market.
- Massive universe – more than 1 million planets to explore, each with unique resources. Explore!
- Build mega-cities – more than 100 different types of buildings means you can build exactly what you need and each city can be unique.
- Trade anything – most games let you trade resources. The Lacuna Expanse lets you trade ships, buildings, money, resources, and much more. Enjoy a full player based economy.
- The Coolest Spaceships – you’ve never seen spaceships like this! Dump garbage on your opponents planets, transport spies, take satellite images of enemy planets, and much more.
- Espionage – take out your enemies without ever firing a shot.
- Chat – talk in real-time to other players in the game. Built-in translations make it easy to talk with players around the world.
- Freedom – choose your own direction. Exploration, expansion, trader, ship builder mission commander, espionage, war, and more.
And now for my impressions of the game.
As I said above I was very pleased with the look & feel of the game. The User Interface is very easy to use, clean and functional. You can switch between the star system view and the planet view. In the star system view you see your planet in context in a star map with your neighbour planets and stars. When you have ships available you can send them to other planets and stars just by clicking on those.
In the planet view you can construct buildings. You can construct buildings to gather resources (food, water, ore and energy), others to build ships, boost happiness, improve trade, allow for spying (an important aspect of the game), perform terraforming, and many other special structures.
The planet is divided in slots and you click on these to build a particular structure. For every building there’s detailed info about its purpose and the amount of resources that are need to build it. For example to build the Spaceport (the hangar for your spaceships) you need to have a level 3 University present in the planet. The Space Port will consume a certain amount of Food, Energy, Water and Power. There is also information on the amount of time a particular structure takes to build.
So far nothing really seems really innovating about the Lacuna Expanse besides its slick user interface. It offers the basic stuff in these sort of games. Each player takes the helm of an empire and then competes against, and form alliances with, other players in a massive land grab pattern. But there is one thing uncommon and interesting about the Lacuna Expanse versus many other games of the genre, you resolve your differences in a different way.
The disputes are not done with fleets of ships, but instead, as the game site puts it “by fighting a cold war with espionage”. So espionage and intelligence about the other empires is key in this game. In fact the game offers around 23 types of ships but only a couple of these are really warfare ships, the majority are other purpose ships like probes, spying ships, smugglers, colony ships, freighters, terraforming and other purposes ships.
The Lacuna Expanse is definitely a game that is worth you a have a look at. If not due to other reasons at least due to its refreshingly easy and functional user interface and also due to a different perspective offered on how to prevail and win in these types of games that puts more emphasis on espionage than direct warfare, and also because its free.
A new expansion is on the way and is called “The Lacuna Expanse: The Enemy Within”. For the list of additions and changes on this new installment have a look here.
To start playing The Lacuna Expanse go here.
To get familiarised with the Lacuna Expanse have a look at the tutorials.
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