I was reminiscing about good 4X games that I've played and I was just wondering, given that this is prety much the space-based 4X crowd, does anyone else here remember Fragile Allegiance by tragically defunct Gremlin Interactive?
Fragile Allegiance was a RTS 4X set in an asteroid field, where you played the role of the leader of a franchised Tetracorp mining expedition into a mineral-rich asteroid field, competing (often violently) with rival expeditions.
The game was 2D, using 3D rendered sprites. You'd manage your budgets, build balanced asteroid colonies in craters, use transports to found new colonies and shuttle ore around, waiting for the 'Federal Transporter' (which was your primary source of income.) You'd sacrifice your precious ore and cash to build Fighters for defence (and later, with the building of an expensive space dock, larger ships.) Prices would vary and you'd find yourself playing market demands to maximise your income (unless, as often happened, you found yourself in a desperate situation.)
The game was really well balanced, with lots of stuff to do generally without overwhelming the player (though you could also hire managers to help out.) The atmosphere was great, very immersive and the backstory enhanced gameplay rather then distracting from it. The intro set the scene really well and you really felt like part of the dirty world of corporate competition.
You had plenty of options for dealing with your rivals, ranging from fleets of ships (expensive and very messy) to inter-asteroidal missiles (ranging in price, but often even messier - for your opponents.)
Agents also played a role, you could hire them for a varying quality and expense for different jobs, from espionage to sabotage, even delivering illegal biological weapons that you bought from black-market traders. You could support them with the ever-handy spy-satellites (which themselves could end up causing a diplomatic incident if randomly discovered.)
Finally, the game posessed what has to have been the best-polished system of diplomacy I've ever encountered in a 4X game. Whilst essentially dialogue-tree based, you really felt like you were dealing with actual personalities, with each distinct race posessing their own completely unique behavioural patterns and responses (and were fully detailed in an in-game encylopedia - love those.) The system felt in depth too, there was nearly always more than one option or just a computer sez no answer. You could always resort to bribery or go crawling to the Federal Representative (the neutral mediator.)
Overall, I beleive this game should be regarded as a legend of the field - but it often seems like I'm the only one who remembers it (having begged for it for Christmas when I was in high school and then playing it to death.)
Please, people of the Star Ruler forums, prove me wrong. Tell me that I'm not the only one who thinks fondly of this gem. z: j