Pan­dora: First Con­tact

Ex­plore strange new worlds. Seek out new life, and sort of Civ­i­liza­tion

Mac Format - - RATED | GAMES - £22.99 De­vel­oper Proxy Stu­dios, proxy-stu­ OS OS X 10.7 Re­quires In­tel Core 2 pro­ces­sor, 2GB RAM, 256MB graph­ics card, 1GB hard disk space Solid turn-based strat­egy A few smart new fea­tures Games can lack va­ri­ety Not as deep as its best peers

The Civ­i­liza­tion se­ries will give us its take on colonis­ing ex­o­plan­ets later this year, but Pan­dora is a Civ-like turn­based strat­egy game that does it now. It looks just like Civ V, with hexag­o­nal spa­ces, and 3D units and ter­rain, but with a few more scifi el­e­ments, such as poi­sonous pur­ple fun­gus and rov­ing aliens. The gist is the same, though. Choose a fac­tion with cer­tain abil­i­ties and be­come the dom­i­nant force on the planet, ei­ther through mil­i­tary or peace­ful means.

Ex­pand­ing your reach means build­ing new colonies, re­quir­ing find­ing and bal­anc­ing re­sources, which is all pretty stan­dard – but your pol­lut­ing, in­dus­trial ways turn the aliens vi­o­lent. You also get a unique re­search tree each game, which ties in with the great abil­ity to cus­tomise units, mix­ing up re­search strate­gies each time, in the­ory. How­ever, while the level of strat­egy here is de­cent, com­mon pat­terns in alien/op­po­nent be­hav­iour emerge all too quickly if you don’t tweak the set­tings heav­ily. It just doesn’t feel that or­ganic. The cus­tom units are a bril­liant ad­di­tion, but are very mil­i­tary fo­cused, and we feel like its the peace­ful op­tions that need in­no­va­tion more. Pan­dora is solid, but lacks Civ V’s depth, with­out enough new ideas to to­tally make up for it. Matt Bolton

A good strat­egy game, but not a great one. Fans of the genre will def­i­nitely find in­ter­est here, though.

As is al­ways the case with this kind of game, ex­plor­ing your sur­round­ings prop­erly is vi­tal to smart ex­pan­sion. Say­ing that, there are still el­e­ments to Pan­dora that lack depth.

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