Pandora: First Contact
Explore strange new worlds. Seek out new life, and sort of Civilization
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.