As the name suggests IG2 is the sequel to the highly successful Imperium Galactica. The aim of the game is to build your galactic empire from a handful of planets into the most powerful empire in the galaxy. To do this you have to control your empire's resources and production while battling against other empires whose aim is the same as yours.
The game starts you off just after the introduction with the standard game menu that's constantly rotating which is a nice effect. If you're an accomplished strategy player then you might like to jump straight in but as its suggested its better the follow the 5 tutorials which take you through the initial steps of recognising the screen items and view to diplomacy and battle tactics.
Once you have gone through the tutorials, which can take a few hours to do, then you can proceed to the game. Single player lets you choose one of 3 races, the Solarians who are decadents from the humans. The Kra'hen, a brutal warlike race from another galaxy or the Shinari, a diplomatic race who feel that diplomacy & trade is the success to everything. Multiplayer allows you to choose even more races, you get the 3 in single player plus 5 others, the Antari, Iberon, Godan, Cheblon & Tuolen, up to 6 of these may be computer controlled.
Once you have chosen your race you proceed to the standard view which you should all be familiar with if you've gone through the tutorials. Its similar to the view in Star Wars Supremacy where you can see the planets and zoom in on then if necessary, the main difference is that you can zoom in on the planets and actually goto the surface to develop the cities and control the buildings, taxes, etc.
The planets surface is the nerve centre of your empire, without developing these you cannot produce battleships and fighters or any ground units, which literally means you're a sitting duck! If you take the option of developing your planets you get a ton of options, there are many different buildings you can build, you have houses for your workers, power plants, spaceship factories and research centres, ground unit factories and research centres and many more. All of which are used in the development of your colonies and the better of your empire.
It does not take long before you encounter another race. In the first few steps of the game they are all friendly and helpful but if you don't do any diplomatic actions for a while and instead keep building up your navy and ground units they will start to distrust you and like me you may end up in a long war.
Diplomacy and spying are one of the biggest elements to the survival of your empire, you need to spy on the other races to keep a check on them so you always know what's going on the other side of the smiling diplomatic face. Using your spies you can steal technologies, find out about the enemy empire and even sabotage ships or buildings. But too much spying will bring attention to yourself and if you keep it up the enemy will find out about your spies and retaliate, usually they give you a warning but war could break out at any time, even if you have signed a peace treaty!
Producing ships and ground units leads you to your research screens where you can research better weapons, shields or ships. Using these new items you can better your navy and try to build up a bigger, better, more powerful army to easily take over your opponents space and planets.
As I said earlier its all very similar to Star Wars Supremacy in many ways, you do build up space stations, you do fight battles in space in 3D and you do have diplomacy. Supremacy was one of my most favourite strategy games and the fact that IG2 builds up on this makes it even better, the ground battles take you through a C&C style realtime strategy battle where your units are pitted against the defending units. The AI in this is not the best, many of the AI units actually try to hide behind buildings they should be protecting and while your units gang up on a single units the other lot just drive away, not exactly the best strategy if you ask me!
Space battles are in a similar vain, I defeated 6 ships using only 2 Identical ships, now if that's bad tactics then I don't know what is. Space battles take place wherever the 2 navies meet. So if your attacking a planet the planet is in the background, if its in dead space then stars are the background. When you do actually fight all your fighters are like little flies swarming on a battleship trying to destroy it. You don't control the fighters, they just do their own thing and do it well, while you control the big boys and using some great strategy you can like me take on 6 ships with 2!
Other extras that you can use to defend planets are gun or missile turrets, which will help you when you're in a space battle. The guns on the surface will fire at the enemy ships and generally you only need to deal with the fighters as 4 ground guns will take out a whole navy on their own.
The in game graphics are very well done, from the space nebulae in the background to the race animations in the diplomacy screen. All the units look differently and you actually feel that your researching something different, not the same thing with a box bolted on top. The effects are great too, you get real time lighting and particle explosions and the fact that you can see the fighters in the battles and the gun fire shows that a lot of thought has gone into th production of the game. There are a large array of planets to have a look at with varying weather conditions, that although don't affect gameplay they add something to the game by making you feel its acting like a planet.
The in game sounds are effective too, everything usually has a sound attached to it, when a mission is done by your spies a voice lets you know, when you goto the planet surface and its raining you hear the rain. Ground troops and spaceships respond to your commands giving you acknowledgement and letting you know of any actions they have taken such as attacking an enemy fleet or joining another fleet.
The music is pretty good too, it's not as annoying as you may find in some games but someone will always complain.
Overall this game rocks! The whole thing has been put together with extreme caution, I never actually played the first game, but I wish I had, if it was anything like this. Every little detail is covered here, worth every penny of its price tag!