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Karl Buiter's first, and most underrated, design, Earth Orbit Stations is a classic space program simulation that was one of the first of its kind. It is also probably the only space station simulation that focuses on the commercial aspect of running a private-owned space station, as opposed to controlling the government-run facility.
The game's premise is sometime in the near future: you have been appointed space director by the Federation of Earth Orbit Stations. Your task is to build space stations, conduct research, market products (yes, products), and compete against up to three other directors. You can choose from a number of missions, with distinct objectives that require different strategies. The missions are all very interesting: the goals range from pure research, rescue operation, space colony construction, and even a search for intelligent life in the universe. There are many modules to build for your space station, including command, life, solar collector, chemical lab, and communications. Most of these require that appropriate technology be researched first. All the missions require you to build special units, such as space hospitals for the Mars rescue operation. You can also launch probes and shuttles from the station.
All of this, of course, requires money (i.e. space credits), which you earn by selling space-produced products (i.e. modules) to Earth. You can deposit money in the EOS bank, or even request help from the commercial sponsors if you are responsible for more than half the total research effort in the game. You can even use ads to attract more buyers, and go bankrupt if your revenues cannot cover operating costs. As if this isn't complex enough, you need to keep an eye on your opponents at all time, because if any of them achieves the goal first, the game is over. With great gameplay, unique premise, and an excellent interface, Earth Orbit Stations is a must-play for fans of space simulations and business games alike. It's also worth a look by anyone who loves Karl Buiter's other old games, Sentinel Worlds and Hard Nova. Too bad the PC version was never released.
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