Mixed or average reviews - based on 12 Critic Reviews

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 4 out of 12
  2. Negative: 1 out of 12
  1. Jan 21, 2014
    There are a lot of neat ideas here, but none of them pan out. The game's creators clearly adore 4X strategy games in general, and Alpha Centauri specifically, is clear here, but Pandora: First Contact is not a proper tribute. I want to love Pandora, I really do, but nostalgia can't fix a game that doesn't work even at the most basic level.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 53 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 53
  2. Negative: 7 out of 53
  1. Jan 25, 2014
    As a long term strategy fan I've bought the game around Christmas and played it quite extensively over the last weeks. I've to admit the gameAs a long term strategy fan I've bought the game around Christmas and played it quite extensively over the last weeks. I've to admit the game has really grown on me, not only does it seem very polished, but the devs (a small indie team) also post a lot and keep releasing updates based on player feedback.

    While there are a lot of similarities to Alpha Centauri (one of my all-time favorites), it's definitely not a copy since quite a few mechanics work differently (random research tree, operations, global resource pool, etc.). What I miss the most from SMAC are the awesome secret project videos (anyone remember The Ascetic Virtues?) which brought the faction leaders to life and made it truly epic. However, considering this is an indie production I guess it's kinda expected, and at least the Pandora leaders have long background stories and dialogue.

    I also had some pretty cool matches in multi-player against my brother, even on large maps with several AIs the turns go surprisingly fast compared to Civ 5 (not sure what's the reason for that). The AI seems fairly competent compared to other games (it does some flanking/hidden attacks and uses operations), but nothing special. Especially later in the game you can do some really evil things with operations (e.g. drop units and bombard cities), and I remember a funny moment where I was racing against my brother for a Leviathan kill (massive alien unit that provides a combat bonus to all your units when killed) and I snatched it away with a nuke which had recharged just in time.

    Anyway, overall I'd say the game isn't as good as it could have been, but I definitely had a good time and can recommend it to other strategy fans. If the devs keep working on it, it can become one of my favorites.
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  2. Jun 3, 2014
    To all turn-based strategy, 4x lovers (such as myself), I highly recommend this game. It's the best thing out before the release of SidTo all turn-based strategy, 4x lovers (such as myself), I highly recommend this game. It's the best thing out before the release of Sid Meier's: Beyond Earth.

    Anyone who is wondering what this game is like, I'll give you a brief idea on what it is like by saying that it feels like Civilization V with a few major differences, such as:

    1. Random tech trees for each faction - you also discover new technologies after every era you pass through, to give a sense of wonder of the future

    2. Unit stacks - infinite number of units per tile; like Civilization IV's stacks of death. The game has actually balanced it so that attacking with stacks is less beneficial; bombardments hurt all units within a stack, flanking (putting units next to each other in separate tiles) gives an attack/defensive bonus.

    3. Customisable units - yes, you have a unit workshop and can fit different weapons/bonuses/abilities on them. There are a lot of different chassis to research (e.g. infantry, fast-attack vehicle, tank, watercraft, and more).

    4. Planet wildlife - at the beginning of the game, they are not hostile. However, the wildlife can get more and more aggressive if factions fight against them, or produce a lot of pollution. They may then become the equivalant of barbarians, or even worse (if aggressive enough, they can launch a full-scale invasion on humans, threatening everyone. It could prove to be a good tactic, for militaristic players, to annoy the local wildlife so that peaceful players are threatened with annihilation). There are multiple types of wildlife, ranging from practically harmless little xenomorph drones to gigantic aquatic monstrosities.

    5. City management - it works something like this; morale (happiness) is local, rather than national. Local morale has an affect on local growth, and local growth depends on whether or not you have enough food stockpiled (food pool is national). Growth is also affected by habitual space; if you don't have enough space, migration to other cities (ones which have more habitual space) will occur. Production requires minerals (also stockpiled nationally). If you run out of minerals, production will be hindered but not stopped completely. Science is gathered normally (1 scientist = +1 science). There are buildings, natural resources and tile improvements which produce percentage increases and/or a small increase in that stat. You can also move your citizen's roles (there are four roles; farmer (food resource collector), miner (mineral resource collector), worker (city producer) and scientist (science producer)) around manually, and they will automatically go to the highest yielding tile. There are other factors as well (such as wars, pollution etc), but that's just the gist of it.

    6. Alien invasion - around turn 200 (normal pace), an alien force (size depends on how difficult you set difficulty level/alien aggression level) invades the planet and the world has to rally together to fight them off. It's a nice twist and a breath of fresh air, especially if the local wildlife is almost extinct by that time or if you have been playing a peaceful up until that time.

    In addition, the game's presentation is very nice (introduction video, graphics, artwork, quote voice overs), soundtrack is great, UI is intuitive and smooth, optimisation is smooth as well; never lags or crashes (runs a lot better than Civilization V). The game is, amazingly, roughly 500MB, so it's a very fast download.

    What can I say which is bad about the game? Well, currently, the game has more focus on combat than Civilization. The game still needs, in my opinion, to add more content which aligns the player to a more non-combat style of gameplay (e.g. something similar to culture with wonders). There are multiple victory conditions other than conquest, such as economic and research victories, but it'd be nice to have more. There is also no indication of how far ahead you are when compared with your opponents, until the last few turns before your, or your opponent's, imminent victory, warning the player.

    The good news is that the developers have pledged to add more content to Pandora: First Contact, maybe in the form of expansions, if it proves to be successful. So far I think the game has been successful, hence the Steam release (the game was released months before Steam).

    For people hoping this to be the next Alpha Centauri, I wouldn't get your hopes too high. The game is good, and it is very similar to AC in some respects, but it's not exactly the same (e.g. no mind worms). Judge it for what it is. I played a lot of AC back in the day, and I thoroughly enjoy this game for what it is.

    If you're still not convinced, or somewhat unsure whether or not to pay for the full price of £22 or $36, just wait for the eventual sale. I'd definitely call you a madman for not getting it then.
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  3. Dec 22, 2013
    Pandora FC has the shallowest gameplay of any 4x TBS game I have ever played, and I have pretty much played them all. Both the tech tree andPandora FC has the shallowest gameplay of any 4x TBS game I have ever played, and I have pretty much played them all. Both the tech tree and city development options are the sparsest I have seen in any 4x TBS game, and there is no depth to any of the areas of Pandora FC that you'd normally expect to find depth in 4x TBS games. Yes you can design your own units, but again the variety of building-block options are limited to the extreme.

    For example in the Civ series you can take the decision to invest time and effort into building a wonder in the hope your investment will bring rewards later in the game. There is nothing like that in Pandora FC. NOTHING.

    This is the only 4x TBS game I have played where it is literally pointless thinking ahead as it is just a needless waste of effort. There is nothing to think about because the player simply isn't given any options to think about because the amount of meaningful decisions you can make are pitiful. Plus there are no decisions to take that require any sort of forward planning.

    As another example (there are many I could choose from) at some point the planet's lifeforms start attacking you, but you don't need to amass a sizeable force to deal with this in advance because you are literally given a warning before it happens, and then you simply amass a sizable force in preparation for "the day the plaent attacks you". I mean just how stupid is that? And don't think you need a sizeable force on hand to defend against the other factions because in the dozen games I played they can't offer you non-aggression facts fast enough. I only built a normal number (2) of defenders for each city and apparently I had far and away the most powerful military force on the planet that had the other factions begging for my friendship.

    It's not a total exaggeration to say that Pandora FC is close to being a linear game that has about as much strategic depth as your average platformer.

    If you are a fan of 4x TBS games then please avoid Pandora FC. And if you are a fan of SMAC then please AVOID Pandora FC at all costs. You will get no any enjoyment out of Pandora FC and you will only wish you had played SMAC instead. And as an added bonus you won't be left with the horrible memory of having played Pandora FC that I now have.

    So my advice is to save your money and if you want to play a 4x TBS game then just play one of your favourite 4x TBS games instead, because you will have far more fun by doing that and I know this to be true because this is exactly what I wish I had done instead of buying and playing Pandora FC for 20+ hours, and I only played it that long in a desperate attempt to find something to like abut the game (and to try in vane to get my monies worth before chucking it forever).

    tl;dr Pandora FC is a genuine candidate for the worst 4x TBS game ever. it might look nice and is pretty stable (and that's why I rated it a 3 rather than a 1), but the gameplay is incredibly shallow and simplistic, and gameplay is the single most important part of any TBS game, so if you don't get that right then the whole game suffers as a result (and Pandora FC got it very wrong)

    (comments based on v.1.1.2)
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