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Conquer the galaxy, gratis - Galactic Civilizations 2 free

Space, the cheapest frontier

I'm honestly taken aback by how good game giveaways have been in recent years. In the past few months alone we've seen some genuinely great stuff given away for nothing but the time it takes to click a button. Even if most of the giveaways are promotional in nature, there's enough available for nothing to keep even the most fervent player going for months. For the next 44 hours (give or take a few minutes), you can score the Ultimate Edition of Stardock's well-received sci-fi 4X strategy game Galactic Civilizations 2 here on the Humble store, free to keep forever.

Galactic Civilizations II may not be the greatest strategy game ever made, but according to our once-resident master of war Adam Smith, it's in the top 25, and that's not to be sniffed at.

At heart, Galactic Civilizations II is what it sounds like on the tin; Civilization in space. Still, it has a few interesting quirks of its own, including a highly flexible 3D spacecraft editor that lets you truly define what your empire looks like out in the stars. Or you can just make everything look like genitalia - human or otherwise - if you want to make the rest of polite space uncomfortable.  It was also well known for its AI at the time, although it has been overtaken somewhat in the past decade.

GalCiv 2 got a lot of post-release support. In fact, that may be understatement of the day. Case in point: the game was originally released way back in 2006, and was still getting notable updates right into the twilight weeks of 2015, long after the launch of its sequel. It was also buoyed for a very long time by a dedicated mod scene. While not able to bend the engine quite as much some other 4x games, there's a good range of themed races and alternative 3D ship hulls to grab from Stardock's own mod repository here.

While I never got along with the game quite as much as others, I've also never been especially drawn to 4X strategy games in general, making me quite unusual among RPS's writers. For the rest of you, there's probably a very busy weekend of designing spaceships and kicking over empires ahead of you this weekend if you choose to pick it up. Which you should, as it's free, and it's not like there's a finite number of copies available. Go grab it.

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Dominic Tarason