• Publisher: Atari
  • Release Date: Feb 25, 2003

Mixed or average reviews - based on 24 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 8 out of 24
  2. Negative: 4 out of 24
  1. 92
    Galaxies are much bigger, available researches are more extensive, and there's far more information to track than in any previous 4x space game.
  2. The core gameplay is enjoyable enough if you actually spend enough time getting used to the complex interface, but the timid opponent AI keeps the game from being really interesting.
  3. This game can get hard really quick. If players do not pay attention to all of the in game menus, tips, and book they will be left without a clue on what to do.
  4. Sure, the gameplay is incredibly deep, but I wanted more emphasis on the military aspects of the game. [Apr 2003, p.95]
  5. 76
    There are things to like about this new version, especially as a multiplayer game, but in the end there are too many issues, big and small, for it to reach the nearly unreachable standard set by its predecessors.
  6. 70
    The de-emphasis on micromanagement is welcome, but the feeling that the game is doing too much for you might kill it for intergalactic armchair generals.
  7. If only your enemies displayed the same kind of intelligence, the game might be a lot more interesting - but in fact, the enemy AI in MOO3 is terrible, far worse than in the previous game in the series.
  8. The developers and testers got so used to this game's ponderous interface and extreme complexity that they lost sight of the average gamer, whose primary goal is to have fun.
  9. You can easily spend a lot of time playing even one game to completion, but by the end you’ll probably wonder if you would have been better off getting your noodle baked by watching some anime or slowly roasting ants under a magnifying glass on a cloudy day.
  10. 20
    MOO3 collapses under the weight of its own ambitious design. We doubt this can be fixed in a patch. Gamers need not apply. Masochists, you're on your own.
  11. The computer AI is just a mess, and for a game that is mostly about interaction with alien races, to have all those races behave like mental patients, isn’t as much fun as it’s cracked up to be.
  12. Features have been piled upon features in an attempt to enhance gameplay, but this has only succeeded in bulking things up to the point where you risk an aneurysm if you try to figure everything out.
  13. Few games have had me scratching my head over design decisions like this one, and yet I'm still avidly playing it nearly three weeks later. [May 2003, p.64]
  14. The new methodology required to deal with this large scale makes MOO3 the first progressive strategy game and avoids previous mistakes of the genre, such as overwhelming floods of micromanagement near the end of the game. It is precisely this refreshingly dynamic experience that makes MOO3 so appealing.
  15. As you spend more time with the game, you realize that much of it is out of your control, thanks to the most annoying and unpredictable AI since HAL 9000. [May 2003, p.76]
  16. One glaring problem is the 165 page manual. While holding an interesting background storyline for the game, material inside is poorly organized and not extremely helpful.
  17. 81
    A game just waiting to be discovered. It does have its problems even beyond those involved in learning to play it, but they are minor in the grand scheme of things and, for lovers of the genre, it is the grand scheme that Master of Orion 3 captures best.
  18. The unbalanced AI, weak diplomacy, poor combat, steep learning curve, are all pieces that draw the players attention away from the game and ultimately decreases any replay value.
  19. Then there's the weak, arbitrary enemy A.I., the impenetrable interface, and the absurdly incomplete documentation. [June 2003, p.70]
  20. In spite of Master of Orion 3's countless detail-oriented improvements, connoisseurs of the series may also find themselves pining for the personality of the earlier games, wishing to trade some of the new intricacy and erudition for a better sense of interaction and consequence.
  21. The elements for a great game are present, but the focus and execution of those elements is not.
  22. The overwhelming masses of numbers and options make MOO3 harder to comprehend than its more intuitive predecessors. [May 2003, p.88]
  23. It’s hard to know which is worse; the interface or the AI. Both combine to spoil the latest Master of Orion title.
  24. A perfect pick for those who prefer strategy over action.
User Score

Generally unfavorable reviews- based on 65 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 13 out of 44
  2. Negative: 27 out of 44
  1. Jan 6, 2012
    The most abysmal game I have ever had the misfortune of playing. Worst game of the decade. It is almost as if it had been deliberately designed to be confusing, frustrating, and bland. Trust me: Don't even play it if it's released for free. Full Review »
  2. SJ
    Aug 2, 2004
    Brilliant, but not for everyone, it is shall we say an acquired taste.
  3. TredK.
    May 8, 2003
    This game doesn't even deserve a 1. I never played any other MOO games, but I was at least hoping this one would be as fun if not funner than Space Empires III. Instead I'm thinking about using the 2 discs as target practice. Why doesn't it just let me send all my ships in one big fleet? I have to organize them into prearranged formations.......AHAH. ANd when my invasion force does attack a planet, if it actually attacks the right planet, than ALLL OF MY ships VANISH!!! How the hell do you invade anyone when your ships vanish and you have to build more. I like how ground combat doesn't end in one turn, but its boring...YOu don't even get to see formations marching around, just puffs of smoke around a planet. And what do Nukes and chemical warfare even do in the game? Just another button to click. Full Review »