Armageddon Empires has a story set in the future and gameplay set in the past. Imagine Magic: The Gathering crunched with Hex-based strategy and based in post-Heinlein sci-fi, with a dash of Fallout for garnish. Things are slow and deep, and that's how they're meant to be. Resources are balanced against dice rolls, moves are carefully allotted, armies are assembled based on complementary numbers and specials, saves are made frequently. Even down to the individual attack, you make judgments with the prudence of a wargamer while hedging with the reckless tact of a card gamer. Only the hardcore need apply.
The human condition doesn't mean shit when the world is a desert. That's the gist of it, and really the motivating engine of Heinlein-esque sci-fi. It's the ol' facist try -- life is ugly and brutal and therefore we need to shape up. (Never read Heinlein, I'm a Phil Dick fan myself. Never read Phil Dick.) In Armageddon Empires the setting is bound by this rationale, a great excuse for card on card mayhem played out slowly in turns, and it comes with the same terse reasoning of hateful alienation that Penny Arcade so deftly lampooned in Warhammer 40k. You've got the humans, militarized like Northern Virginia without the home equity credit lines, the Free Mutants (two words I can respect), the machine aliens and the Zerg/Tyranid/Bug organic aliens. The whole wheel of fortune of is much richer for the independent raiders, zombies, and in the new expansion, cults, which combined with random finds in the far reaches of forbidden wastes, makes this game feel a bit like a terrestrial Strange Adventures in Infinite Space. The rich art detailing each hero, unit, weapon and building adds a lot of character to it as well, like the musty lobbies of game stores in the early 90s, overpriced candy and recently released Tea-esque beverages mixing in the smells.
And yet, this is Vic's first full title, and as admirably whopping as it is, there are flaws. The optimization for Mac is a bit chunky, if you're playing on the fairer OS expect lots of color wheel action. The interface is also obtuse, much like the company you used to keep in above mentioned, but without the live personality to endear you. It's fun to figure out just what the hell you're supposed to do, how to move (the other mouse button? WTF!? I've been spoiled by casual games) or how to gather resources. But you'll figure it out, you just might screw yourself and make a bad move in the process. It's all part of the process. Save often, save your species.