The year was 1993 and to be honest not a lot of nice things happened. The world trade centre was bombed, the Northern Ireland talks weren’t looking promising, Sadam was being difficult about weapon inspectors and there was a rather nasty nuclear accident in Tomsk-7, a small town in Russia. On the brighter side Microsoft released Windows 3.1 and much more importantly Sid Meier’s most excellent software development company Microprose struck gold again with a game called Master of Orion and made an otherwise depressing year a little bit more bearable.
Master of Orion (or MoO – yes I know), was a turn based strategy game based in space, where your goal is to take over the entire galaxy by colonizing solar systems and a rather clever combination of diplomacy and war. Victory is achieved when you have either taken over the entire galaxy or you have been elected the High Leader by the Galactic Council.
In short it was probably the best game released up until that point for PC and Apple Mac, and three years later, the sequel: Master of Orion II: Battle at Antares (MoO:2) was even better! There was a third game, but it wasn’t a Microprose game and it should never have been released, it was that bad – enough said.
A few years ago a fantastic team of programmers decided they wanted to realise the untapped potential of the Master of Orion games and they began work on an open source project called Free Orion. There have been a few buggy releases over the years, but now it is fully playable and absolutely excellent, with full multiplayer and online modes too! Along side Oolite, this is now probably one of the best open source games available.
I’m not going to rant and rave about this game too much, because you need to play it yourself to see how good it is. If you played the original games, all I can say is that this project really does embrace the spirit of the Master of Orion Series.
Here are the useful links:
Enjoy and watch out for the Guardian!