REVIEW: AI War 2: The Spire Rises

Jun
06

REVIEW: AI War 2: The Spire Rises

The most condescending AI overlord of all time has to share the galaxy with a variety of new friends and foes thanks to the hefty batch of new content brought in by this DLC.

Released: Steam
Type: Single-player
Genre: Strategy
Developer: Arcen Games, LLC
Publisher: Arcen Games, LLC
Release date: 27 February, 2020

Overview

AI War 2 is a title that I’d passed on the first time that I came across it. It has something of a minimalist approach to its visual presentation and I couldn’t tell at first glance whether it had enough depth to keep me interested or not. After seeing its first DLC released, I decided to actually give it a shot thanks to its very positive reception on Steam. To say the least, I was pleasantly surprised. Not only was there far more depth than I’d assumed, but I also spent a few hours playing it in my first sitting, hooked on my attempt to slap the smack-talking AI around a bit.

The Spire Rises is one of my favorite kinds of DLC. It improves the experience by adding more variety to it. Two new factions join the roster to keep you on your toes along with plenty of new ships and turrets, offering new tools to hone your strategy and steer the direction of your fleet and planet development at any given time.

The Scourge and the Fallen

The two new factions that you can spice up your next campaign with are the Scourge and the Fallen Spire. The Scourge is composed of the genetically-engineered results of the species’ that were conquered by the AI in the past. They don’t sit around taunting and underestimating you like the AI overlord does and will instead produce dangerous fleets from their factories. These factories start off fairly unimpressive, but over time they will grow on their own and expand throughout AI held territory, whether you’re progressing or not. This means that unlike the AI overlord, they can become an overwhelming threat if you’re not steadily moving forward in your liberation of the galaxy.

A fully explored galaxy map ends up looking like something straight out of Tron.

On the other hand, the Fallen Spire are the last remaining traces of the Spire, another AI conquest that didn’t go so well for the defenders. By recovering the remains of their civilization, you can build spire cities and ships which are both incredibly useful assets that can be used to cause serious damage to, or prevent plenty of damage from, those who would do you harm. Additionally, they can give a sizable boost to your economy, through increased production of both metal and energy. Indirectly, they result in increased aggression from the AI that can lead to larger and more powerful forces invading that are likely to push you to your limits.

Both of these factions offer certain benefits to you when they exist in the galaxy, though both are just as likely to cause you some serious grief at one point or another. It’s also nice to see that each faction comes with a full fleet of their own ship types to spice up the war overall.

Yes, if you want weird and disturbing entities in your galaxy, you’re covered here.

New Tools of AI Destruction

While the factions certainly shake things up on the galaxy stage, a handful of new ships and turrets freshen up your strategies at the tactical level. Around three dozen new turret types result not only in you having plenty more in your defensive toybox, but also make it so that every game feels quite different due to whichever ones you end up getting your hands on. Alternatively, four new standard ship types are introduced that offer new functionality to your fleets, while a few beastly ones can be found deeper in the galaxy that pack a serious punch. All in all, each of these new additions has its own role and feels unique, which is no small feat when it comes to the number of ship and turret types that have already been available with the base game.

Battles start out rather small, but toward the end both you and the AI will be fielding massive fleets with huge numbers of weaponry firing at each other.

Verdict

The Spire Rises adds some excellent content to AI War 2 that will make the title that much more exciting for those who enjoy its concept and gameplay. This is a DLC that you don’t want to miss if you’ve already been sold on the foundation that it’s built on. That said, this feels like a hefty content pack as opposed to a full-blown expansion, so those who didn’t have any interest in the original aren’t going to be convinced otherwise by these additions. I, for one, was converted after giving AI War 2 a chance. If you’re a big strategy gamer like I am, don’t let it slip by without at least giving it a shot.

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