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Polaris Sector Review

By on April 1st, 2016 1:58 pm

Polaris Sector Review

If you’ve paid a visit to our forums, you may have read or seen images about a game called Remember Tomorrow or Galaxia: Remember Tomorrow. It was originally based on a space 4X game that was released only in Russia in the late 90s, but developer SoftWarWare has had a vision of a modernized and enhanced version that would bring its core concepts to today’s gamer. This game, which is now known as Polaris Sector and now published by Slitherine, has recently reached full release after several years of development. While much has undoubtedly changed about the design since those early days, what hasn’t changed is the 4X pausable RTS gameplay that makes it feel more like a turn-based game than an RTS one.

Earlier this month, I posted some first impressions of Polaris Sector. While I had some fears and concerns, I was informed that I was not playing a final build or even the most current beta available at that time. Since then, I’ve had a chance to experience many more hours with the release build which is currently version 1.02.

Here I Go Again On My Own

Your empire begins as a newborn ready to explore its surroundings. You may or may not have ships at the start of the game, depending on difficulty and pirate settings, but once you have a ship prepared you will want to begin exploring nearby systems that are connected to you via starlanes. Starlanes are the primary means of transportation in the game. While the ability to build temporary and limited range teleportation gates for a high cost exists later in the game, or can potentially be picked as a starting racial trait, you’ll be relying on starlanes from beginning to end.

Every starlane leads to a new system, and every system contains at least one planet which may or may not be inhabitable. How far you can travel depends on how much fuel you’ve equipped your ships to carry. During your travels to new systems, you may find resource caches that provide a quick influx of a specific mineral. In some cases these can be VERY substantial, as very early on I was able to find a deposit that increased my supply of one rare resource by over 1000%. There are also ancient keys that can be found which promise to provide access to a powerful ancient spaceship if you can find them all. Aside from physical goods, there are also wormholes in some systems that act as one way tunnels which instantly teleport you to an endpoint somewhere else within the galaxy.

Polaris Sector | A Very Lucky Find (reidium is the light blue ore)

That concludes what you’ll find while exploring. If you’re looking to encounter minor races, space monsters, mercenaries, missions, anomalies, or any other strange phenomena, you’re not going to find it here. You can enable pirates if you like, but if you also choose to play on hard you need to be prepared for a forced immediate impact on your early economy. This is because they always appear in a nearby system on hard mode and always approach you immediately with demands. While you can fight off their initial effort, a larger fleet that you can’t defeat is sent almost immediately to extort protection money from you. I found their presence when playing on hard mode so forced and uninteresting that I now simply disable them from the start.

One of my favorite phases of any 4X game is the exploration phase. I firmly believe that a solid experience in the exploration phase forms a solid foundation for a 4X game as a whole. This is especially true in the space strategy genre, as the vastness of space inherently offers a sense of discovering the unknown among near limitless possibilities in a way very few genres can. It is therefore with great disappointment that I report that Polaris Sector barely scratches the surface of what is possible. Simply put, it offers one of the most uninteresting and uninspired experiences I’ve had in this regard in any modern 4X game.

Expanding to new Earths

Spreading your civilization throughout the stars is what the expansion phase of any space 4X game is all about. In Polaris Sector, there are a variety of planets to be colonized such as acidic, oceanic, desert, contaminated, hot, volcanic, gas giant, dwarf, and even a not-so-super super-earth. Each of these planets contains some of the 5 essential minerals that you’ll need to collect and harvest in order to maintain your buildings and fleets. To extract these minerals, you’ll need to colonize them, and depending on the type, this requires researching things like domes and platforms. Each planet and planet type offers up one or several of these resources, and the richness of the source provides you a sense of what kind of return you can expect once you begin mining it. In theory, this presents an interesting contest for resources that will have you fighting over rich planets in order to keep yourself in steady supply, but in practice I found it was relatively easy to maintain a constant flow of all of them.

The most important planets of all, and the one you and all the races will be rushing to grab, are the Earthlike planets. While many other planet types exist, they are primarily sources for mining resources. Earthlike planets are where the action happens. They offer a range of benefits and allow you to choose how you want to exploit them. They can specialize in food production in order to spread food throughout your mining empire. They can specialize in industry and become key location for creating your fleets and ground forces. They are also the only planet type aside from rare oceanic planets that can perform research. These purposes coincide with the policy choices you’ll have that manage each colony automatically for you. You can also choose a balanced approach which divides your planets interest among the three, or if you want total control, you can manually manage all planets or even just specific ones. Control is certainly placed in your hands if desired.

Polaris Sector | The choice of what to have this planet specialize in is pretty clear

The issue with Earthlike planets and colony management in general is that there is almost no decision-making to be made here. Each of these planets is predisposed to certain tasks depending on randomized modifiers to agriculture, industry, and innovation (research), and unless you are in desperate need it makes sense to specialize them in what they naturally do best. If you decide you do want to manage one manually, you’ll find your building choices sorely lacking as you queue up stacks of the same preferred building type regardless. There is also a blocking system in place, and this system prevents you from building certain structures dependent on how many other structures you have, and this further limits the benefits of manual management. It is clear to me that the system is meant to be automated and for the most part unmanned except for your industry colonies which you’ll use to construct your fleets.

Meeting your neighbors

While space may feel lonely early on, don’t be mistaken. There are other major races out there and they are expanding probably even faster than you are. Territory gets gobbled up as colonies are founded, so it won’t be too long before you encounter them. Exactly how soon you find them will depend on the galaxy shape, of which there are several, as well as galaxy size, number of opponents, and of course random chance. There is no shortage of options here, and whether you want a chaotic claustrophobic experience or want to isolate yourself down a galactic arm, you’ll find an option here for it.

Part of meeting you neighbors is them meeting you. Designing your race is a relatively simple task and begins with selecting one of the preset races. This primarily determines what you look like and what ship layouts you’ll have access to. Once you’ve selected one, you can then change your logo and race color as well as your starting attributes. These consist of efficiency modifiers or penalties to certain actions such as production, research, population growth, and trade. In addition, there are two unique traits that provide your race unique benefits on oceanic and radioactive worlds too, and you also have an option to start with from one to three higher tier technologies if you leave enough points available for them.

Polaris Sector | All the options available to a new race

Diplomacy

Diplomacy incorporates both trade and military agreements in an interesting way and is one of the strongest aspects of the game. By now, most 4X trade systems are nearly identical to one another, and while nothing truly revolutionary has been put in place here, there are certainly some interesting wrinkles added to the formula. For instance, different types of trading require that treaties be accepted by both parties. So while you may choose to trade in goods and materials once you have an economic treaty, you won’t actually be able to trade technology unless they have also agreed to a scientific one.

I enjoyed the way I could perform both one time trades and long-term trades. Even if you lack what you need to make a trade happen right away, there is a trade option that allows you to pay the other race back with interest. On the other hand, if you are fortunate enough to have an abundance in some resources, yet a shortage in another, negotiating a long-term trade deal can be just what you need to keep your war machines rolling. The AI is also smart enough to cancel deals that it no longer finds beneficial, which is certainly a nice touch.

Polaris Sector | What can I say, I needed a lot of Plutonium.

Military treaties are interesting as there are clear distinctions between open borders for scouting vessels and permissions to fly through with your heavy war ships. As the player, you are also given an option to demand they leave your territory in a certain amount of time, which is an important feature that is often neglected in other games.

The presentation of other aspects of diplomacy, for instance when making military requests, is a jumbled list that often doesn’t even fit on the screen without scrolling. Making military requests or remarks such as “Hey, doesn’t race X seem kind of dangerous?” will often improve or reduce your relationship with the other race, but you typically don’t know why they’d reacted a certain way. It is certainly difficult to get the AI to help you militarily.

Preparing for War

Ship design in Polaris Sector is similar to other tetris-like grid based systems but adds a few interesting twists. It is certainly the first game I’ve encountered that allows the player access to place modules on not just one floor but multiple floors on most ship hulls. Not all floors are created equal either as each potentially has a different layout. The top floor is actually almost always restricted solely to weapons. Another unique aspect of the top floor is that turrets placed there have a 360 degree arc while weapons placed below deck are far more restricted. Certain components such as weapons and engines can only be placed in designated areas, but the game allows total freedom when it comes to the placement of all other components.

Polaris Sector | One of my destroyer designs

The number of modules available to you increases your design options as the game goes on, but it never really reaches a point where you feel you can’t fit everything you need. For some, this may be a positive, but I found myself feeling handcuffed due to the limited areas available for engines and weapons. Late in the game I was just cramming fighter hangars onto my ships to fill space, as there are only so many defense systems, fuel containers, and power plants that you need. Also, since armor is simply selected and automatically applied without taking up any space, I found every ship I made was heavily armored and there was no significant opportunity to make decisions regarding offensive vs. defensive trade-offs. I will admit my ships were quite slow, so perhaps weight and speed is a trade-off in itself, but I also didn’t find slow ships hindered me in the grand scheme of things.

Fighterfare – The Future of War

If you’re someone who fears RTS style combat will be too stressful for you, I can assure you that this combat system will not be an issue for you at all. The game pauses when combat begins and takes you to a battle map. Once in battle, the game speed is still highly adjustable and can be paused at any time in order to issue new orders and can be sped all the way up to 64x normal speed to get you into the action quickly. It will even auto-pause at max speed to let you react when ships start to engage.

My aim throughout my play was to design ships capable of doing damage at long-range. As much as I like destroying enemy ships, I like not having mine destroyed even more. What I found was that most weapons had very short ranges and that this approach was less successful than I’ve seen in other 4X space games. It was actually quite surprising to find that only one of the missiles I had available to me could even match the distance of my longest range energy weapon. While I did try to use some missiles, the fact that they are limited in supply and seemed no less effective left them feeling lackluster. I also equipped my ships with some of the missile defenses available, but in dozens and dozens of fights with the AI I never noticed enemy missiles being fired at me.

Polaris Sector | A typical battle later in the game

The most dominating weapon in combat isn’t actually a weapon at all, but rather a hangar bay. In nearly every fight with the AI I was swarmed by hundreds of fighters and their larger cousins the interceptors and heavy fighters. In some cases I faced almost 1500 of these ships along with over 100 corvettes. The only effective countermeasure I found, and I did look for other ways among the weapon and defense systems available, was to start slapping multiple hangars into my own destroyers. With each destroyer carrying 50+ heavy fighters or nearly 100 interceptors, as well as hangar repair bays, I was able to counter their incoming fighters with my own which were technologically superior.

Aside from fighters, the enemy’s tactic consisted of spamming dozens of corvette class ships against my larger frigates and destroyers. In most cases, if I fought the battles, I could defeat these much larger forces while only losing some of my own fighters. If instead I chose to auto-calculate the combat, I would find I would lose the battle without destroying a single enemy ship. It seemed like the auto-calculation actually started and then bugged out, as in the case of these larger battles it calculated results quicker than it did in smaller battles and shows all results as 0 shots fired for both sides yet my ships were destroyed. While I could win these battles of attrition manually, I found it got repetitive with the auto-calculation completely unusable.

Polaris Sector | Did we just self destruct our ships or what?

Boots On the Ground – Taking Planets by Force

Ground combat is abstract as in most 4X games, but here it is a bit more involved and complex than many similar systems. Battles take place in real-time on the galactic map. A look at the planet displays a meter showing which side will win and how long it will take if nothing changes. This is rarely the case though as reinforcements for both sides are often added to the fight as it rages.

While they aren’t something that can be designed, there are a wide variety of different units that can be used in ground combat. Each has its own niche in a more complex rock, paper, scissors system. Tanks for instance are good at destroying infantry, but are countered by ground attack craft, which are in turn countered by fighters, which are in turn countered by something else. There are even genuine seafaring battleships that can be deployed in some cases.

Managing ground combat to this depth isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, and the game helps alleviate this with the inclusion of a “plan invasion” button that appears on planets you’ve blockaded with your ships. Once pressed, the AI will begin gathering up your troop transports, queuing up units on your various planets, and will shuttle them over for the invasion. This is nice as it allows you to focus on other areas without micro managing troop deployment.

Unfortunately, the AI did a relatively poor job managing my invasions. It would queue up thousands of weak police units and deploy them against worlds filled with tanks that have 400% efficiency bonuses in destroying them. Another flaw with allowing the AI to manage your invasions is that the AI will continue to send troops to these planets even if you’ve lost the fight and control of the airspace around the planet. This causes you to have to retreat these ships as they arrive or lose troops unnecessarily. It seems like once the order is issued to a ship, it doesn’t ever re-evaluating if following through it makes sense years down the line.

Polaris Sector | Police - the military force of the future

A Unique Research System

One of the most unique aspects of the game is the research system. Research is split into fundamental science and applied science. You are provided a slider you can manually adjust to decide how you want to split your research between these two areas. Fundamental science is used to unlock new applied sciences, while applied sciences unlock actual technologies.

While manual control is an option, the approach I took was to select technologies I wanted and use the “set as priority” option. This essentially controlled the slider for me and did whatever was necessary to unlock a certain technology as soon as possible. While at first glance the research screen can be a bit overwhelming, this approach makes it much more manageable. In some cases I did still find it difficult to determine exactly why certain techs took far longer than others, but it is very easy to change your priority between techs to see how long certain ones will take so that you can make an informed decision.

Polaris Sector | Priority research has automatically adjusted my research slider

The system is certainly unique, but I’m not sure how much it adds to the genre. I found the layout often made it difficult to find the technologies I wanted. For instance, trying to locate a new engine among all the applied sciences can be a bit frustrating, especially since the technology names don’t always clue you in to what they are at a quick glance. Weapon technologies are even more troublesome, as finding a long-range weapon vs. a short-range weapon or a large weapon vs. one that can fit on a fighter’s available mounts is a time-consuming endeavor. It’s not obvious which is the most advanced option at a quick glance either. The info is there, hidden in the “technical data” you can bring up after selecting them, but it’s not easy. There are numerous times I researched techs and found I actually had no use for them on my designs. I think some tweaks to the UI to help call out important facts about technologies would do a lot of good here.

AI
The quality of a 4X games’ AI is almost always a key concern for experienced strategy gamers. My experiences against the AI have been on the hardest difficulty with pirates disabled. I wasn’t able to walk all over them, but I wasn’t particularly overwhelmed by them either. The AI, at least for a few of the races, was able to expand quickly and colonize more planets than I did. What they weren’t able to do was research new technology anywhere near as fast as me, and their military relied solely on mass production of small ships like corvettes and fighters and brute force measures. These very large fleets were dispatched time and time again by my smaller more well equipped fleets.

Polaris Sector | We (Orange) took an early lead and kept it throughout the game

My games against the AI devolved into a war of attrition. I would slowly whittle away at one empire, taking a planet here and a planet there, while splitting the other part of my fleet off to defend myself from another. The AI attacked the same planet over and over again despite weaker planets being available that also directly bordered them. This allowed me to easily concentrate my ships where they needed to be. Unfortunately, these constant battles got old after a while, and the lack of an auto-calculation system that produced results anywhere near how the battles would actually turn out meant every one had to be manually fought.

I also found that the AI does know how to take advantage of the espionage system. They would often fly stealthed ships into my empire. These stealthed ships can bypass any border defenses you put in place, even if there is no other starlane that would allow them into your system. It is possible they are using one way wormholes also I suppose, but as it’s impossible to know where the exit points may be located in your empire, I don’t really know how you’d defend against it. There are long-range scanner buildings which do detect them, sometimes, allowing you to reveal them, but they don’t often detect them even if you’ve built as many of these as you can on your border worlds. Stealth ships wouldn’t be a big issue, as an occasional sabotage or riot can be dealt with, but sometimes they will bomb a planet wiping out years and years of progress in an instant. I found this to be incredibly frustrating. I did try to retaliate with bombs of my own, but that’s when I found out some empires don’t like these tactics and you take actual diplomatic hits with them if you do so.

Final Thoughts
I did get some enjoyment out of Polaris Sector and can say I did experience the “one more turn” feeling associated with 4X games a few times during my time with it. This was the exception rather than the rule though and for the most part I just found it to offer a frustrating experience. Whenever I would find myself having some fun, something would happen that made me want to quit out of the game.

I love exploring and in this game the whole experience is uneventful and dull. I also love expanding out and developing colonies, but here again the system is without meaningful decision-making and may as well be automated. I’m not going to say the game itself is bad due to these deficits, but fans looking for rich experiences in these 2 of the 4Xs are going to be left feeling unfulfilled. Exploitation and extermination are certainly more refined, but even in those areas I found much to be desired.

It is certainly possible to have a good time with this game, but in an era of ridiculously tough 4X competition, with even tougher competition on the horizon, it is difficult to see where this title fits in. I know there are some hardcore 4X fans who will enjoy it for what it is, especially those who care about warfare and ship design above all else, but I can’t say I’m one of them.

Polaris Sector

Polaris Sector (Win PC)

Reviewed on PC

Available at: Steam, and Slitherine.

Space Sector score:
5.5/10
mediocre
The Good:
– Real-time with pause is well executed and keeps the game moving at a good pace
– Multi-level ships add additional design space
– Offers interesting and well implemented trade options and agreements
The Bad:
– Exploration is dull and uninteresting
– Automation is encouraged yet is inept in most aspects
– UI feels out of date and ineffective
– Tactical combat gets repetitive quickly and doesn’t auto-calculate accurately
– Too few meaningful decisions to be made

Keith Turner, also known as aReclusiveMind here on SpaceSector, has been an avid gamer ever since he first laid his hands on a Commodore 128 in the mid 1980s. He enjoys multiple computer game genres, but his primary interests are in deep strategy games, 4x games, rpgs, and action rpgs. He enjoys writing and hopes to contribute with additional reviews, previews, and informative AARs to the community. See all Keith’s posts here.

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61 Comments


  1. Tynendir says:

    Very good review and very close to what I think.

    My main issue with the game, in addition to the exploration phase that I also find very dull, is the spying system. I can’t manage to make use of it myself as it seems to require insane number of spy ships to actually do some damage. Basically every time I tried to do a spying mission, the game would calculate my odds of success to be less than 10% most of the time and as decent self-sufficient spy ships take 10 years to build in my decent industrialized worlds, it didn’t seem very efficient to do that.
    The AI however has the same approach with spying as it has with warfare, sending swarms and swarms of spy ships one after the other. It’s very annoying, there’s almost no counter and it’s just dumb. I wish there was an option to disable spying modules or that they would at least give a decent counter.
    I also was sorely disapointed when the hyperjump interdiction module still allowed camouflaged ships to pass by my battlestation-protected system without an issue. It seems that this module is only effective in combat (which is again, lame).
    I can attest that during my playthroughs the AI does make use of wormholes which should permit an empire with heavily fortified borders to still be attackable through those weak points which are hard (for a reason) to be located. It would also give a reason to allow a definitive answer against spies to be implemented as my guess would be that the devs didn’t want the spies to be useless.

    To help you with wormholes I just want to say that as soon as you travel through one then you can see cropped lines (——) showing where the wormholes lead (always one way trip). It’s often a good idea if you managed to get a few sustainable scouts early on to try to send them through wormholes in areas you think the AI will colonize before you as it will show you where those lead and you will avoid getting sneak attacked later on. I wish there were more varieties of wormholes with two-ways wormholes, random wormholes (can send you anywhere in the galaxy with high chance of destruction), area-lead wormholes (not always the same system but in a small area around the main arrival point).

    One weak point of the game I also found was the pre-game settings.
    Firstly, it’s impossible to customize the name or symbol of your race or even to create a custom race from scratch. You have to use the templates associated with each of the races, using their symbols and their ship layouts. You can choose though to change their bonuses and weaknesses and you can change the color but that’s all.
    Concerning the galaxy settings, you do have options as to the type of galaxy you want (spiraled, elliptical, rectangular, with more or less arms, etc), you can also choose the density of starlanes (without which it would be a deal breaker for me) allowing for more or less defensive games, and the number of stars. You cannot however choose the density of planets in each star systems, the density of earthlike planets, your position on the map (I often have to restart games 5-6 times because I want to be at the edge of the map), etc. It can be very annoying.

    Hopefully those issues will be adressed through updates or a couple of modders because I think it’s a decent game otherwise with some potentials though the AI is terrible and only offers a grinding challenge in the toughest of the – only – three difficulty levels. Easy is, well, way too easy. Simply no challenge, you will steamroll through your oponnents. Medium is challenging at first but as soon as you’ve understood the basic mechanics it’s also a breeze. Finally hard is just a grinding fest and your victory lies in your ability (or will) to endlessly create ships to protect your borders and slowly expand them.

    A last point is diplomacy. I do not think the diplomacy is system is good to be honest and I haven’t seen any real collaborations between different races even when allied. At the end of the game it seems to be a perpetual state of total war between all the races with only a few truce signed every few 50 years to allow a brief respite. Even when allied with another race they don’t seem to hesitate to backstab you at the first opportunity they get. A pity really.

    Personally I would give the game 6/10.

    • Keith Turner says:

      Thank you for providing your thoughts. Over the years I have worked to reduce my review lengths to more manageable sizes, and in the process I inevitably have to cut some of the details. I agree with what you’ve added regarding complaints and have most of the same issues as well.

      You’re right, diplomacy isn’t great. Then again, I rarely find it great in any 4X game, although this may change with Stellaris as long as we consider it a 4X game still. Anyway, I mainly appreciate the trade system here, and the way the different treaties were required prior to trading goods and tech and asking for military access.

      I considered 6/10 early on, but I felt Polaris Sector had too many major flaws to qualify for that rating on our scale. I also think by its very nature it’s unlikely to ever be a game I thoroughly enjoy. It has a focus on warfare above other aspects and I don’t generally like games that use warfare as their most important element. Age of Wonders 3 is a notable exception, but that’s because the tactical combat is a lot fun and requires some important decisions, unlike in Polaris Sector.

      • Tynendir says:

        I would probably give it a lower grade if it weren’t for the ship design system (I love those type of design like StarDrive or Star Ruler 2) and I do like the battles though it’s true that it can be tedious and there are some elements that don’t make sense.
        As you pointed out torpedoes are unusable on large ships because of their low range, missiles however are pretty handy against fighters and other strikecrafts, especially when the AI start using Active armors making your lower-end beam weapons almost completly useless against them. Torpedoes however are very useful when mounted on bombers to quickly destroy large capital ships.
        In my opinion the battles are pretty much at the same level as StarDrive II, not great but good.
        Finally I encountered very few bugs and none game breaking, a few crashes here and there (the auto-save saved me) which seemed to be induced by designing a ship and then quickly trying to build it with too many clicks, I quickly learned to save my game after I designed a new ship. The only real nasty bug is the one you mention with the auto-combat system though it only happened to me once. Compared to other 4X games which were bug riddled at launch (GalCiv3, SD2, even AoW3 for me) I thought it would give Polaris Sector a redeemable grade ;p.

  2. Ermdog says:

    Kind of surprised actually. I’ve heard nothing but good things from this game.

    • SQW says:

      Not surprised. Most people just aren’t that good with 4X games.

      Endless legend had rave reviews across the board but was unplayable for me due to AI that was completely brainless. Also, never trust a review from someone with less than 20 or so hours of a 4X because the nuances of this genre rarely becomes apparent in the first 10 hours.

    • tiny_big says:

      The review actually kind of matches the main criticisms I’ve seen about the game. The positive reviews seem to emphasize the ship building and galactic scale warfare features which seem to be where most reviewers’ tastes lie, but the game doesn’t seem to satisfy the planetary management / tactical combat people.

      I’m just happy we’re getting so many games this year even if I may not like the playstyle of every one.

  3. TimmY says:

    Really well put review. This game looked really good on paper and I was really excited to play it. After like 11 hours, I’m mostly disappointed.

    Funny thing, the weak aspects of the game presented here are for the most part present in my not so comprehensive steam review as well.

    Good read anyway. Thumbs up!

    • Keith Turner says:

      Thanks TimmY. I’m glad we lined up on our thoughts, but I’m sorry to hear you ended up mostly disappointed with your purchase. Especially since you said you were really excited about it before hand and it sounds like it was quite a let down for you. If Stellaris ends up a dud I’m going to be absolutely devastated based on how hyped I am for it.

      Thank you also for spreading the word about our review on the game’s discussion forum on Steam. I think it’s important that potential buyers get as many opinions as they can before making a purchase, especially if their budget for gaming purchases is tight.

      • TimmY says:

        I don’t regret buying the game. I still hope for some good updates or maybe even an expansion.

        Potential buyers can see the big picture now and make a proper decision. I pointed out on the hub as well, this game is a bit pricey and I think many haven’t bought it because of the price.

        Stellaris is launching couple of days after my birthday. I would be devastated as well. Maybe I will wish for a smooth launch day and a glorious 4X game. :)

  4. Mark says:

    Thanks for the great, comprehensive review Keith, I really appreciate the detail and hard work you put into your reviews as it helps immensely with my purchasing decisions.

    For me forced starlanes are undoubtedly the death-knell for this game. I might have (very) reluctantly purchased it if the rest of the game was perfect, but clearly it simply isn’t. The extremely poor AI in many areas of the game is a particularly worrying issue. In a game that relies heavily on automation, the automation absolutely *must* work properly.

    The devs *really* need to learn that options and customization are the key to success. If starlanes could have been turned off I would probably have bought this game warts and all.

    • Vendor-Lazarus says:

      In the games defense, you can avoid star-lanes altogether or choose to make every star have multiple lanes or only one as you see fit.

      Having said that though I found Keith’s review mirroring my sentiments although I would have rated it lower.

      Dull exploration, fuel restriction, confusing research, one planet is best for everything and way too much emphasis put on war.

      Sorely disappointed.

      • Mark says:

        Yeah but I dont want to always play the non-starlane race and maxing out the lane density seems a lot like applying a band-aid to a mortal wound.

        And as you pointed out it isn’t a very good game in other respects either. There’s still a lot of promising 4x contenders on the horizon. I’ll save my money for them.

    • Keith Turner says:

      Thanks Mark, you’re welcome. These reviews take a fair bit longer to write and produce than one may assume, so getting some acknowledgement that they actually help people is wonderful.

      I know you and others have issues with starlanes and I completely respect that even if I don’t share an equal level of dislike for them. This is a primary reason that I try to always call out their prominence in the game. As to why they are so popular, I think their prevalence is due to the developers desire to use a traditional grid based pathfinding algorithm (such as A*) that allows the AI to navigate and defend more effectively.

      My favorite way to see starlanes used is as an optional FTL method that is faster but more restricted in where it can go than traditional warp travel. Sword of the Stars had this approach and Stellaris is using them this way as well.

      • Mark says:

        “I think their prevalence is due to the developers desire to use a traditional grid based pathfinding algorithm (such as A*) that allows the AI to navigate and defend more effectively.”

        I actually hear that rationale quite frequently but I think it would carry a lot more weight if there had *ever* been even one starlane-based game produced with even moderately decent strategic AI. But there hasn’t.

        In fact 4x space games generally dont get a lot of praise for AI, but the only one I have ever heard of being singled out in reviews for its exceptional AI was GalCiv II Dread Lords, a free movement game. Go figure.

        Now I certainly dont think that free-movement allows for better AI, but the fact that there has NEVER been a starlane game with even mediocre AI makes me *very* skeptical of the claim that “starlanes make for more effective AI”. It simply has no evidence at all to support it.

        “My favorite way to see starlanes used is as an optional FTL method that is faster but more restricted in where it can go than traditional warp travel. Sword of the Stars had this approach and Stellaris is using them this way as well.”

        Yes I’d have little to no problem with this approach. Optional is good. That’s why I think Stellaris is going to be a big hit. They’re providing a lot of options and allowing players to play the game the way they prefer rather than forcing them down a single path. That’s a huge recipe for success IMO. I guess we’ll soon see.

        • Keith Turner says:

          Oh I definitely agree that starlanes have not been meeting their potential benefits in my experiences with them. When I did my re-review of Endless Space with Disharmony I pointed out numerous deficiencies with the system there as well. I haven’t given up hope yet, but they certainly aren’t my favorite when implemented in the way we’ve seen them recently.

  5. Jeff P says:

    Thanks Keith, for the extensive review. The only way I will buy this game is if it appears in a bundle with other “C” list games for a heavily discounted price.

  6. UncaJoe says:

    Another excellent review, Keith. And VERY helpful. Thank you! I’ve been interested in the game – until now. So, now I wonder if the devs will try to improve the game in light of your comments (and those of others). Is it possible for you to ask them? As the game stands now, I’m absolutely not going to buy it.

    • Keith Turner says:

      I think some items, such as auto-calculation producing nonsensical results, are clearly broken and need to be fixed with a future patch. Other things like UI improvements and making technologies easier to sort out are quality of life things that may also see refinements in the future.

      It is possible the dev doesn’t see some of the other issues that I (and others) have as actual issues. The game is designed to be a certain type of a game with a certain focus and it is possible my tastes just don’t line up with it. I can safely say there are also some gamers who really enjoy this game that also feel that way. I read some posts just yesterday about how someone enjoyed the fact that Polaris Sector didn’t include a lot of sci-fi and fantasy elements in the exploration phase. I’ve also read that some people really like that it is more of a wargame.

      In the end, different strokes for different folks. So, to answer your question, it depends on what you want to see fixed and whether or not that fits within the vision the developer has. I’m not in direct communication with the dev at this point, but I’d like to think that all concerns voiced by myself and others will be taken under consideration.

      • UncaJoe says:

        Thanks again, Keith. I have to agree with you about different strokes. So, yes, the disappointment I feel is *MY* disappointment. For those who like it this way, great. I hope enough people buy it for it turns a profit for the devs. That would be good for the industry. Meanwhile I’ll keep an eye open for changes. I can hope, can’t I? You guys do a great job and a priceless service for all of us users!

  7. Austin says:

    Excellent review, and I agree with almost everything said in it – except that my taste in 4Xes is apparently very different, I’d rate it higher in the end.

    I’m a wargamer at heart: for me ship design and tactical combat are the most important features of a 4X, with strategic warfare/logistics/diplomacy coming close second. Economy and exploration are “nice to have” but not critical. For players like me this is a solid game: not brilliant, and it may be left in the dust by Stellaris, Endless Space 2, etc. as the year wears on, but still enjoyable to play until then. I’d put it at about 7/10 if I had to pick a number.

    To go into a lot more detail.. this game really gets how ship design goes hand-in-hand with tactical combat. You’ll come up with designs that look good on paper, then fail terribly on the battlefield because of something you forgot to take into account, sending you back to the drawing board. Or perhaps they perform well until you run into a new design that counters them, putting you into an arms race to come up with a design that counters the counter, etc. Ships will often rely on battlefield tactics – positioning and movement and combined arms with other units – so a design you found to be useless at first may really shine when you figure out how to use it effectively. I was hooked from the moment the tutorial gave me a practice battle balanced on a knife’s edge, that you can easily either win or lose depending on how well you position your units and get them to support each other. First try I lost terribly, second try I rethought my tactics and won barely.

    Sadly, even if you’re a ship design/tactical combat fan, the other areas of the game conspire to hamper your enjoyment of it. Economy is just a chore: lacks meaningful choices, it really feels like you’re meant to just infinitely spam colonies, then turn on the AI automation for every one and forget about them (although, frustratingly, the AI isn’t perfect so you CAN get a slight edge by microing everything, I just wouldn’t recommend it for sake of sanity). Research is.. an innovative and interesting idea with a weak implementation, you end up doing the focused research thing which behaves quite a lot like a tech tree in the end, it’s just an inscrutable and unintuitive tech tree with a terrible GUI. There’s a good diplomacy and trade system buried in there somewhere, full of interesting options, but the lack of feedback from the AI makes it very difficult to use. You’re basically trying to guess how the AI values everything, trying over and over to get a deal to go through, again a potentially good system hamstrung by bad GUI.

    Ultimately, if you love ship design and tactical combat, you can live with these flaws – but they do hold it back from being a great game. And if you don’t, this really isn’t the game for you.

    Side note for anyone who loved the old Space Empires series, particularly SE:V (yes, sadly, there are few of us). Polaris Sector recaptures some of the things that made SE:V good, in a much more polished/bug-free/not-crippled-by-terrible-AI package. On the other hand it just doesn’t have the same depth as SE:V, too streamlined, particularly in certain areas like economy, but it comes closer to that style of play than any other 4X I’ve tried in the past 10 years.

    • Keith Turner says:

      Thanks Austin. I am glad to read that you were able to appreciate the review despite your preferences being different than mine. This is in large part why I tried to emphasize what I look for in the review. While I do try my best to review all aspects accurately regardless of my personal preferences, what is most important is that I never want to lead someone astray.

      I had hopes during the tutorial that tactics would be an important part of combat, but it never came to fruition in my experiences with the game. The extent of my tactics was to keep my fighters (of varying sizes) deployed and surrounding my fleet so that my fighters could kill their fighters. Once their fighters were dispatched my fighters and destroyers easily cleaned up the competition. With repair hangars on my ships, the enemy fighters can also be loaded up and repaired, so you end up getting an every growing surplus of fighters as well.

      Once upon a time I enjoyed SE:IV, but that was long long ago. I don’t think I’d enjoy it today. I never played SE:V.

      Stellaris and Endless Space 2 both have a very good chance of becoming my favorite space 4X game… if they meet their potential. Thankfully we don’t have too much longer to wait.

      • Austin says:

        I’m a little surprised that you found battlefield tactics unimportant – not that I doubt you, I just wonder how our approaches to the game must have differed. Just a guess, but perhaps you relied more on fighters and less on capital ships than I do? It seemed to me like the capitals respond better to battlefield micromanagement, due to things like firing arcs, and movement speeds/weapon ranges/countermeasures that can differ significantly between different designs. Meanwhile fighters are homogenous enough, and hard enough to micro, that I end up just grouping them together into a blob of death.

        Either way, I feel that seeing your efforts into ship design/fleet composition affect combat results is the more important thing. The fact that you can (sometimes, debatably) further influence the results by how you manage units on the battlefield is a notable plus for me, but not critical to what makes the combat fun.

  8. thrangar says:

    Once again SS saves me some money, all the things I wanted and needed to know to make decision!

    Now on to Stellaris , and if I remember from an earlier heads up I was supprised to find myself looking forward to ES2 also.

  9. SQW says:

    When will 4X devs realize in this day and age, a MOO clone with a few touch up here and there will not sell well? We might say we just want a MOO clone with new paint job but over the years, our taste and expectation in this genre have been influenced by so many other games both from within and without 4X genre.

    Either innovate or don’t make it at all. We have too many of this mediocre crap already. The majority of us will hold on to our wallet, adopt a wait and see approach and compare your title with a half dozen other MOO contenders that’s in the pipeline if all you bring to the table is ‘like-MOO’.

    Why is Stellaris dominating all 4X news atm? Is it because it claims to be the truest successor to MOO? Heck no! They took a good look at what their studio is good at doing and forged their own path and their sales will reward them for it unlike this wannabe.

    • Mark says:

      You might well be right about this, I honestly dont know. But I think its just as likely that people *would* respond well to a good MOO 2 clone but that nobody who has attempted it has really come close to doing it properly.

      Take SD2 for example, SD2 is probably the closest 1:1 MOO 2 clone (certainly closer than the official sequel), but even in SD2, Zero screwed up tactical combat by making it an RT snorefest where actual tactics are almost completely useless. A far cry from MOO 2 where deep tactical combat was the centerpiece of the game for many fans.

      Maybe we just need a dev who has a clue and can actually get a modernized version of MOO 2 right while resisting the urge to reinvent the wheel and add their own unique spin which inevitably turns out to be complete rubbish.

    • SQW says:

      Old classics were made by people who knows how to make a GAME. A lot of them cut their teeth in the board game industry where good title is carried by good mechanics and not pretty board and figurines.

      Nowadays indie 4X games are made by PROGRAMMERS and graphic designers who sorta knows how a game is put together but lacking any true understanding of what makes one great. So they do the next best thing and borrow aspects from games that were successful.

      We have token RTS because people ‘like’ RTS now. We have tech trees because 4X needs a static tech tree! We have MOO/CIV like diplomacy screen (with the SAME bloody options for the past 2 decades!) because those classics had them so it must be a key ingredient. We have the same city building grid system aka MOO/CIV even though it makes no sense to still be using this upgrade system in 2016. The result is just a bunch of disjointed collection of old stale mechanics mashed with some new twist that came from half a dozen other genres and are inevitably a medicore mess.

      Copy cats deserve the scorn of the gaming community. Want to make a classic 4X game? Make a board game out of your core mechanics and see if anyone wants to play it.

      • UncaJoe says:

        Oh, gosh, SQW! I’m showing my age, but I really agree with you about the making of a GAME!!!!! I still play Monopoly and a half dozen other board games. Why? Because they are F*U*N to play. I still play MoM and SE and some other old games because they are FUN to play. And, I have a hard drive more than half full of computer games I almost never play because they are not fun to play. So yeah, for me graphics and music and RTS/TB are just frosting on the cake. Gimme the cake, please!

    • FireStorm1010 says:

      I might argue one way or another overall, but Polaris is quite far from a MOO copycat.

      • Keith Turner says:

        I’d agree with this. It doesn’t feel much like MOO at all.

      • SQW says:

        Given Keith’s review score, no it wasn’t like MOO. =P

        I think this game is the result of trying to throw as many 4X stables at the wall and see what sticks.

        I miss Kerberos and their SOTS franchise. At least that game knows it’s all about pew pew and doesn’t pretend to try and shoe horn a planetary management sim into space warfare. Also, when was the last time a small studio actually hired a writer to do background lore on their 4X universe? Finally, if you want to do RTS in 4X, SOTS I & II and Homeworld should be the gold standard – not the half arsed C&C in space that’s been all the rage in this genre lately.

        • FireStorm1010 says:

          Well its your opinion, i have now played 40 hours of the release version and i still love it.
          And to be honest, considering you havent even played it, your strong negative opinions are bit weird for me.

          Kerberos is still very much alive and had lately a fun action/strategy game called Kajiu-A-Go-Go

        • SQW says:

          1. The review made it more than obvious the game is a by-the-book copy cat with every 4X staples crammed into one generic MOO-like game.

          2. With youtube, you really don’t need to have played a game to know exactly what it’s like.

          3. Polaris Sector represents the worst of the current 4X trend – micro/indie studios pumping out copy/paste of old classics wholesale (both the good and the outdated mechanics) with a new lick of paint plus some new, minor, inconsequential mechanics to pass off as a ‘new’ game.

          Polaris isn’t a bad game if it’s the first ever space 4X just like CIV: Beyond Earth would’ve been a great game had CIV V never existed. PS is just a safe/shallow copy/paste job.

          Oh, I actually own Kaiju but the game suffers from horrendous mid-game grind. Great idea of a game hampered by poor execution.

        • BlueTemplar says:

          Yeah, why so much hate?

          Sorry, unless you’ve played *by yourself* at least a few dozen hours of Remember Tomorrow AND Polaris Sector AND MoO1, then you’re just not qualified to tell what the game is “exactly like”.

          And from what I’ve seen of Remember Tomorrow (and MoO1), I wouldn’t dismiss it outright as a MoO1 copy…
          for instance it has SotS1-like 3D maps 9 years before SotS1!
          (my mind was blown when I found the “rotate map” controls for the first time)

          And after all, it’s the devs’ damn business if they want to make a remastered version of their own old game!

          Speaking of remastered versions of old games, SotS1 might *hypothetically* get one :
          http://www.kerberos-productions.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=55778

        • Mark says:

          I’m with SQW on this one. As he points out, with Youtube you can easily see EXACTLY what any game is like to play. You can watch dozens of hours if you really want, in as much detail, and in any type of situation and by all types of people with all types of play styles.

          And I thought the whole point of review sites like Space Sector is so you can get a good idea of whether you would like a game *without* having to spend money on it. If you ignore a poor review and buy the game anyway then the review has been utterly pointless.

          This whole attitude that you have to physically own and play a game to have any opinion on it is sadly quite common and equally perplexing. With the information we have at our fingertips today it simply isn’t necessary.

  10. t1it says:

    Hah you’re the best Keith and the others. This reviews says it all that needs to be said. Why would I ever look on (99.5% lousy)steam reviews when I got this site :P
    As for this game, perhaps after a series of expansive expansions it will become something? Might as well begin by taking exploration seriously if combat is not up to par. I see it as a game that has little or not-by-a-long shot-enough depth, no charm and only some of the mechanics are gotten right (eww starlanes!)? The evil & ‘bad’ twin of DW?
    This is post space 4x renaissance, it’s not even remotely good enough anymore.

    That said, this is a handcrafted game, like DW, so a diamond can be shaped if enough time (& money) is thrown at the coal but presuming the maker has good design in intent. Not sure he has at the moment though.

  11. stikidu says:

    i am surprised to see the same score for this 2 games:

    Sid Meier’s Starships : 5/10
    polaris sector : 5.5/10

    i think ps is understimated .

    • Keith Turner says:

      Considering I didn’t write the review for Starships for the site, I don’t see how you can be surprised about the score. It is possible I would have rated it higher or lower, I don’t know as I’ve never even played it.

      Polaris Sector is rated based on my experience with it. A score is just a score that summarizes that.

    • As the guy that did review Starships I can answer why I gave that score (which honestly I’ve already said in my review). But I’ll reiterate here:

      Personally, Starships is a poor game if you were expecting a real PC strategy game. However, it was obvious that it’s a casual (I rarely use the term casual, so it’s not a label I throw out lightly) mobile strategy game that had a PC port. So I reviewed it as such. So my expectations for it were different, and as such the score is based off of that.

      To me it was a decent casual game that more dedicated gamers would find outright poor. But I also note I suspect even casual gamers may eventually get bored of it as well. So the game did hit its bare minimum objectives successfully and there was no technical issues to penalise them for. However, I don’t think it has anything beyond that.

      It’s a fun little thing you can play on the bus while standing. So the game couldn’t get a higher score than the minimum I would give in such a circumstances even with the “it’s suppose to be a casual mobile game” filter on my eyes.

      Actually, I had people say I was too strict, because it was meant to be a casual game. Funny thing is I actually did try to review it from that perspective. I actually play quite a few light-weight mobile games so the perspective is not alien to me.

      This was all made clear in my review actually. So it hit the minimum to get at least a 5 (again, casual filter was applied). I tend to review games on their own merits.

      I reserve scores of less than 5 for games that are actual failures, even within the field they are suppose to be in, or fail by their own merits.

      The other thing to remember is I am not Keith and Keith is not me. I respect his style and reviews but there are going to be differences between us. We do follow the same general guidelines for our reviews and scores, but the personal experiences and personality of the reviewer will have an effect on that score.

      This is why I said more than once, don’t just look at the scores. Read the whole review, or at least the introduction and closing sections. But read the whole review preferably.

  12. FireStorm1010 says:

    I will grant you that exploration isnt the strong part of this game. But im surprised by the AI/ tactical combat bashing.

    Maybe its difficulty levfel difference, i was just playing on hard difficulty and it seems as if we were playing different games. The AI does all the time try to attack my weaker planets, going all over the place, even bypassing neutral races to get at them, it never seems to concentrate only in one place.

    The fighters are strong early on, but i just playtested mirv plasma missiles , fairly low tech module, and its really strong against fighters, allowing for capital ships to stand their own. Further down the tech tree there even stronger anit fighter modules. Als the enemy AI fighters fire torps all the time on my capital ships and not equippign them with missile defence is suicide.

    Sure you got to learn about these modules, but its how most 4x games work, you got learn the tech tree and come up with a strategy using them.

    • Keith Turner says:

      In my experience with the game there was no need to figure out how to best use each tech. I was playing on hard difficulty. I’ve never played on normal other than to see how the starting conditions differed.

      My military consisted of destroyers with fighter bays (double hangar and repair bays). I used both interceptor and heavy fighter designs. The destroyers were no slouch either with active reidium armor and as many weapons as allowed on the Gavakan destroyer hull. I did use missile traps, so perhaps I didn’t notice enemy missiles, but I typically engaged fighters with fighters and once wiped out I allowed my destroyers to clean up the larger ships. There is plenty of room in the designs due to module restrictions on weapons anyway. Again, no hard decisions here other than how I could squeeze another fighter bay in.

      I realize 4X games require some thought on how to best use technologies, but frankly it isn’t something I had to agonize over here.

      • FireStorm1010 says:

        Well i cant really argue with what you are writing, im just surprised we got such different experiences. I mean for me Polaris had great AI (come to think of it best since GalCiV2) and i i was/am struggling on hard difficulty.If its a cake walk for you, its natural you wont feel the need to dwelve into the game and wont apreciate the mechanics. I see 2 possilbe explanations: one is something got really broken between the Beta i was playing and the release version (im playing a new game now but its early yet to judge), or maybe something changes with the number of stars, i played alwys between 200-360 range. Or you are really that much better lol, but my pride wont allow to admit it:). Seriously tough im a dedicated 4x/strategy player, i used to win most of my Ironman Impossible X-Com runs, played strategeis from MOO1 till now…Oh well, pity you didnt like it, iam still very much fond of Polaris, even tough i played i think more then 300 hours during Beta…

  13. FireStorm1010 says:

    Ah and jusdging from your pics, you were fighting the logans. Thats why you were swarmed by corvettes. Logans are weak technologically (meaning they will get bigger hulls quite late) but they excell at throwing swarms of low quality ships at you. Thats their race speciality , i bet fighting another race would be different

    • Keith Turner says:

      Actually I was only defending myself against the Logans in that game at that point. I was primarily involved in dismantling the Sharatar who were able to put up even less of an opposition on the western side of the galaxy. I had half the fleet size there destroying them compared to what I had defending the one planet the Logans were hell bent on capturing.

      All the races were WAY behind technologically as you can see in the tech screenshot. They closed the gap a little towards the end, but I blew them away early. I didn’t have any trouble fighting off other races either, although most of them were content to leave me be. The humans tried very briefly to take me on and were swiftly routed and looking for peace.

      • FireStorm1010 says:

        Lol i still dont get how its possible. Maybe you got some secret starting expansion moves.Im now playing a new game on hard and im struggling, most races seems outteching me at least in some areas.

        And regarding opnly corvettes here is a battle from my Beta game https://youtu.be/bnqDEFPeRqY?t=2478 . As you can see there is a lot big ships on AI side out there….

  14. Tomaura says:

    I’m very surprise about the Score.
    I understand the criticism, but for me the overall experience is great despite the flaws.

    I’m actually enjoying quite a lot Polaris Sector. I must say that Polaris Sector did reconcile me with space 4X.
    Polaris Sector IMHO focus on strategy with wargame elements.

    And PS has a very unique feeling and atmosphere.

    Research that reflects what Science is really about.
    Time that replaces turn. Way better in my opinion.
    Space feels cold and empty. It is true that it can make exploration dull for some. To me it is more about discovering new worlds and ressources (to secure what leads to the strategic layer of PS)
    The possibilities to not be involved in colonie management. That’s awesome. As a strategist I don’t need that.
    The spy system ! For the first time I have a real way to scout and plan an invasion.

    And one of the best thing in this game is that ships are SLOW as they should in combat. It makes tactical decision way more important as you can’t react as quickly as in other 4X games to save a situation. Tactical decisions really matters !

    For someone like me who play a militarist strategist this game is recommended.
    I never bother with diplomacy ;)

    You won’t like this game if you are looking for a more traditionnal 4X (like Moo), if you want deep and complex colonie management, and you are not interested in combat.

    • FireStorm1010 says:

      Same here:) .Polaris isnt perfect and got weak sides, but the fighting/designing/teching/countering part is imho really good.

  15. BlueTemplar says:

    How come you don’t mention planetary Initiatives?
    They seem to be a quite important part of planetary management…

  16. salvo says:

    as always, excellent review, though the score may seem a bit low, I agree with the main criticism. To me, the most important aspects in a space 4x game are exploration and expansion, and in those, unfortunately, PS is rather weak. I haven’t played much because the game managed to turn me off rather quickly. A terrible design choice in my view, though it may be consistent with the wargaming focus, is the way the galaxy is created. In order to make the wargame focused gameplay balanced, the planets distribution is highly predictable: If you choose a huge galaxy, as I always do, you know at game start that the distribution algorythm is going to place ‘good’ planets at a certain distance to your starting location. This just kills the game for me, as it destroys the atmosphere you’are exploring a unknown space. This is just an example of how a design choice (though justified from the wargame focused perspective) may destroy the game experience for some other players. In any case, stellaris with its exploration focused gameplay is going to be relased soon and I’m highly optimistic that that game will deliver what I expect from a space 4x game. PS will probably share the destiny of an increasing amount of other games I own: buy, try out, get bored, shelve, forget, move to the next one. Maybe I’ve grown too old to enjoy most games …

  17. Jeff P says:

    Uh oh, looks like Polaris Sector beta testers and/or Sliverine employees are weighing in. Don’t worry guys; if the game sucks you can still earn back the development costs if you bundle the game with Bundle Stars or Humble Bundle.

    No reason to destroy your credibility by hyping a fatally flawed product.

    • Do you have any evidence?

      Sorry, but I abide by Jurisprudence when it comes to any kind of accusations. If you make an accusation have evidence for it.

      Someone being a first time poster is not evidence either. It’s circumstantial at best and holds no weight. Perhaps they are genuine fans of the game that heard about this review and came here to voice their opinions. We do get mentioned in other forums.

      I personally didn’t really enjoy Polaris Sector that much (this is not an objective or critical view, only a personal preference, it’s not my cup of tea), so I am the furthest person to defend it. However, assuming anyone that likes a game or defends it is a “shill” for the company is just as absurd as to assume anyone that hates a game that received positive acclaim is a troll.

      Even if the game wasn’t my cup of tea, it doesn’t mean others won’t find enjoyment in it. They may even like the game or think it’s a good game. I can easily see that there will be people that would find this game enjoyable.

      I am sorry, but I notice accusations like these are always made from the “other side” of a debate. You hate something but someone else likes it, they have to be paid. You like something but someone else hates it, they must be a troll.

      I used to write for a site that specialised in finding evidence of sock puppeting and astroturfing, and exposing it (along with other acts of foul play by companies). These are not light accusations one throws around just because they disagree with someone else.

      So again, where is your proof?

  18. SamDog says:

    I bought it and yeah, it wasn’t very good. I went back to GalCiv III.

  19. blueinstinct says:

    Aparently there was a bug introduced by the gaia planets shortly before release that caused the AI to only research on said gaia planets (very rare)
    It is fixed now and AI is doing great again.

    edit: I signed up just to say this:
    I come here to read reviews since a long time ago and never did i disagree as strongly as i do in this case.

    Polaris is highly replayabel, very indepth while still straight and easy to manage, every aspect of the economic model is linked deep into the game, it is very polished compared to otehr 4x releases and ahs barly any bugs.

    very unfortunately the AI got handicaped at release but is now up again and probably the best release AI in a 4x in decades.

    giving this game a 5 / 10 is really harsh and i hope u maybe give it another look and reevaluate it

    greetings

  20. RedArgo says:

    I haven’t bought the game yet, waiting for my ten year customer of Matrix coupon which will hopefully be coming soon, but for what it’s worth, the guys over at Grogheads seem to be mostly positive about it, so seems like a matter of preference in the style of 4x you like.

  21. BlueTemplar says:

    “Each of these planets contains some of the 5 essential minerals that you’ll need to collect and harvest in order to maintain your buildings and fleets. To extract these minerals, you’ll need to colonize them, and depending on the type, this requires researching things like domes and platforms. Each planet and planet type offers up one or several of these resources, and the richness of the source provides you a sense of what kind of return you can expect once you begin mining it. In theory, this presents an interesting contest for resources that will have you fighting over rich planets in order to keep yourself in steady supply, but in practice I found it was relatively easy to maintain a constant flow of all of them.”
    Wait, so there are 5 different minerals, and you never ran into shortages of any of them?
    Have you maximized your ship production capabilities?
    Or am I missing something?

    • Austin says:

      You have limited buildings per colony, and building mines comes at the cost of fewer factories and orbital shipyards. It also takes quite a long time to build up an industrial world to the point it can churn out ships quickly, it requires not only resources but population growth, which can bottleneck the shipyards in particular.

      So it’s quite possible to designate too many mining colonies and not enough industrial worlds to actually use up all those resources – or maybe you did pick industrial specialization on plenty of colonies, but they’re not developed enough for efficient ship production yet, so you have a temporary excess of minerals you don’t currently need. Likewise you can go the other direction, and find your industrial worlds idling because your mineral production can’t keep up.

      You also have to keep in mind that mineral reserves get (very gradually) permanently depleted over time, and ships/buildings have a significant maintenance cost which you can expect to increase over time as you build up your fleets/develop your colonies, so you often want to deliberately plan for an excess of minerals so you’re prepared in advance. You can also be in the midst of a peaceful period where you don’t need to churn out dozens of ships, but you want your mineral production to be high enough to cover that when war unexpectedly breaks out.

      TLDR: yes it’s optimal to plan your industrial consumption to match your mineral output, but the game is complicated enough that this is difficult to achieve in practice, and it’s safer to err on the side of too many minerals.

  22. solops says:

    Wow, hard to believe he played the same game I did. I disagree almost totally with the reviewer. This is the finest space empire game I have ever played. First of all, I am a 2x fan, warfare and ship design – expand and exterminate. It has what I want at the level I want it. The AI needs some love, the UI needs some tweaks and the options need some additions (many of which are present, but not presented to the player). This game is exactly what I want. Distant worlds took years and several expansions to get to be a good but flawed game. Polaris Sector is waaay ahead of that curve already. A must buy for any Space Emperor.

  23. FireStorm1010 says:

    I also disagree with the statement that the fighters are so powerfull. They got some tech eras they are powerfull, but most of the time you got plenty of counters to them.
    Here is a short movie showing one of the counters, and the AI on hard diff will use it to agaisnt you:) :https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-G1F95Cz3SI&feature=youtu.be

  24. grant says:

    This game is a technical marvel. And unfortunately not too fun to play.

    It fell prey to what many modern 4x games did: adding complexity and realism that is not actually amusing

    eg.:
    – Why do I need to manage 5 different kinds of ground forces?
    – Why do I need to be concerned with research that doesn’t produce tangible results?
    – Why can’t my space fleet arrive in-system in a sensible formation?
    – Why do I need to design and redesign every single space ship brick-by-brick?

    Maybe I’m spoiled by MOO1, but all of these pointless complexities were abstracted away so we could concentrate on the fun stuff.

    • SQW says:

      It’s far easier to add in features than to decide which ones to leave out for the sake of the whole. Once a feature is in, it’s even harder to take it out even if it’s obviously ‘not fun’.

      Just look at the modding scene. The VAST majority of them started off with great ideas to improve the vanilla but most end up being a feature bloat/creep that never seem to end.

      Unfortunately, game design school can only teach you the technical skills and not how to make great, fun game – that takes experience and intuition. So it’s no surprise new studios and indies are plagued by mechanically sound games that plays like arses.


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