Galactic Civilizations III: Mercenaries Expansion Pack

Game review by
Franklin Rinaldi, Common Sense Media
Galactic Civilizations III: Mercenaries Expansion Pack Game Poster Image
Expansion adds depth, factions, but limits strategic choice.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Encourages players to think about interactions between nations, consider potential societal impact of future technologies, trade, various paths to victory, while bringing hired mercenary abilities to table.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You see direct results of making positive, negative decisions through diplomacy. Otherwise, role models defined by personal play style.

Ease of Play

Basic gameplay isn't difficult, but its nuances are. With moderately designed tutorials, takes some time to learn how to best plan, strategize. A very in-depth manual can be downloaded to help.

Violence

Battles initiated but only observed by player in third-person perspective. There's no blood, gore; battles are won, lost based on survivability of your ships.

Sex
Language
Consumerism

Latest expansion to Galactic Civilizations III, which also has downloadable content (DLC).

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Galactic Civilizations III: Mercenaries Expansion Pack is a downloadable expansion pack to Galactic Civilizations III, which is a turn-based strategy game that simulates colonization of star systems. It makes players consider a nation's development, including politics, culture, military, and technological advancement. Unlike other strategy games of this genre, it's slow-paced, allowing the player plenty of time to contemplate how he wishes to pursue dominance of the galaxy and work toward it. Players can win through conquest or through other pursuits including technology, diplomacy, influence, and ascension. The very detailed ship-builder model allows for interesting designs and a variety of tactics in building one's fleet of ships. Though ships explode in conflict, no blood or gore is shown, and players don't have overt control over a battle once it's started.

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What's it about?

In GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS III: MERCENARIES, the struggle between the relentless and remorseless Drengin Empire and what's left of the human race has reached a fever pitch on both sides. The galactic underworld is filled with elite mercenaries who will lend a hand for the right price or supply of resources. These mercenaries have many diverse skills and abilities that can significantly help advance your technologies, diplomacy, military dominance, and more. Since there are a limited number of mercenaries available at any give time, deciding which ones you hire for what task becomes a strategic focus of the game -- because if you don't, your opponents might use them against you. Players are also introduced to Torians, an amphibian race that was held in slavery by the Drengin until they were liberated, as well as the Arceans, a race that loves might but hates slavery. Between the mercenaries and the two new races, the universe just got a whole lot more interesting with many new tech trees, ship designs, and ways to influence the galaxy.

Is it any good?

The addition of new races and soldiers for hire expands and provides strategic depth to the original game, but it also complicates play. The additional races provide numerous approaches to affecting your influence and expansion throughout the galaxy. The mercenaries add new layers of complexity that ups the game of strategic planning and execution, reinforcing what makes the series so great. Plus, the way that Mercenaries' new campaign walks you through the introductions to the Torians and the use of the mercenaries is well done and worth pursing even if you're already a veteran of the game. As it's longer than some of the previously included campaigns for the franchise, there are many hours of enjoyment as you explore the humor, intrigue, sadness, and rage about the treatment of the new amphibious races. 

But the Mercenaries expansion can be a bane as much as a boon to gameplay. When the limited amount of mercenaries become available, it can sometimes feel like a requirement to hire them simply to prevent your opponents from getting them. This can feel more like a narrowing of strategic options instead of expanding on your tactics and strategy, and though its impact is really felt in multiplayer, this preventive measure even affects the single-player campaign. That isn't to say that the quality of gameplay and the variability you get through the mercenaries don't make them worthwhile; it's just that they probably shouldn't eventually boil down to a deterrent so players have more flexibility in their strategic conquering of the universe. Galactic Civilizations III: Mercenaries is a good expansion to the original game, but the addition of crucial strike forces for hire makes this an expansion best left to players willing to risk their success on troops whose loyalty is bought by the highest bidder.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about setting media-consumption time limits. These games are famous for luring gamers to keep playing for "just one more turn," so how do you strike the balance between time played and time away from your progress?

  • Talk about the ramifications of talking with strangers online and how to keep private things private. Why shouldn't you share personal information, including passwords, your home address, inappropriate images, and gossip online? Do you know why it's important to disconnect from conversations before they get out of control?

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