I'll confess - I've been avoiding this game, dragging my feet when it comes to playing and blogging it. I really don't like mission 7. You have to build up a military force and drive out squatters from your space station. Which means that even when the mission is going well, it is characterized by chaos and death. I'm finding that I like witnessing my neighbors getting their stuff wrecked almost as little as I like seeing my own stuff get wrecked. Almost.
This would ordinarily signal the end of my time with the campaign mode and the beginning of my time in a no-opponent sandbox, except that I have the sneaking suspicion that I've not yet been introduced to all of the game's mechanics. There are still two alien species I've never even seen and a whole bar in the (admittedly minimal) status graph that has yet to be explained.
Which means I more or less have to soldier on (pun unintended but serendipitous) until I make it to the end of the campaign. I think I might be able to use a console command to skip past this mission, and it's likely that I will, but before I do that, I'm going to at least try to give it another good push.
Regardless of how it turns out, I think I can now say with authority that I hate it when a city-building game becomes an RTS. I mean, it seems like all of the most interesting ones do. Anno 2070 has a neat sci-fi setting and cool technology, but then so much of the campaign was building boats to cause mayhem with your enemies, and it sort of felt like a waste. Tropico 4 was a little better at it, but even then you had rebels. I understand in both cases military confrontation is key to the games' challenge, but I guess I like economic and social challenges so much more that I resent the intrusion of even a little fighting.
Which is weird, because I will play and enjoy games that feature violence on a personal scale. Give me control of The Boss in the Saints Row series and I will punch any number of goons in the nuts, but make me responsible for a base or a city or a society, and suddenly I'm all like risk must be minimized and the status quo preserved! It's a major blind-spot when it comes to competitive strategy games (as I was reminded when I played Star Ruler 2 multiplayer recently), but usually with these single-layer sim games, I can just sidestep the problem using the game settings . . .
Unless, of course, I run into a mandatory combat-themed campaign level.