Note: There is already a node called 'Masters of Orion 2,' but this is not the actual correct name of the game. To be technical, the game is entitled "Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares."

The game begins like so many other games of the 4X genre: you, the leader of your small, weak race must use research, combat, sabotage, telepathic control, or any other such technique to slowly claw your way up the metaphorical galatic power ladder. However, this exceptional game turns out to be so much more.

Gamers who have played the original Master of Orion will be pleasantly surprised, as this game retains all the key elements that made the first game so good, with many positive additions. When Master of Orion originally was released, it was liked by mostly everyone who played Empire-building simulations, with one of the few complaints being the game was too simple in its operation. If nothing else, Microprose has made sure that complaint will not be heard again. The game not only includes almost double the races, a dramatic increase in research topics, more combat options, hulls, weapons, and techniques, and the ever-wonderful option to design your own ships, complete with miniaturization as your technological level progresses.

Another feature that helps improve the replay potential is the race customizer. Not only can you choose from the 30-odd nicely balanced races that come with the game, you can design your own race, picking from hundreds of race attributes from faster workers to cybernetic beings to being telepathic. Of course, you can (and will have to) add downfalls to your race, but with practice you'll learn how to use your race's skills to their maximum potential and circumvent your weaknesses.

Another of the fine additions to MOO II is the Antarians. This race of xenocidial spider-like beings possesses amazing technology, not to mention a vendetta against all other sentient life in the galaxy, for reasons unexplained. Regardless, from time to time the Antarians pop into your galaxy from their transdimensional homeworld to basically wreak general havoc for a few turns, then pop back to safety. Of course, like all the options in MOO II, you can turn off the Antarians, but it takes away some of the edge-of-your-seat "which colony will be decimated next?" anxiety, which is one of the things that makes games like this so priceless. Oh, and you can blow up planets.

Additionally, Master of Orion 3 will (hopefully) be released in first quarter 2002, produced by Hasbro.