Metacritic: 64/100
Release: Feb 2003
Reviewed on: PC

Master of Orion III

Site Score
Good: Exploration – Huge game maps – Unique senate victory option
Bad: Limited action – Lots of mechanics to learn
User Score
(11 votes)
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(User scores are recalculated daily)

Master of Orion III is the third game in the popular space strategy game. The game plays out like most other 4X strategy style games like Civilization.


Unlike previous games in the series Master of Orion III introduces a number of game mechanics to help automate the process of gameplay. While this decision was not necessarily well received by fans of the series it was definitely necessary so that the game could expand to the size it wanted to and still remain playable by a human being.

The game world is definitely not shy on size with the largest maps offering around two hundred stars for players to explore which each can have anywhere from one to eight planets. All of these planets have varying statistics with some being uninhabitable for your race but might be perfect conditions for a different race. As the game progresses this becomes less of an issue though thanks to terraforming technology.

In each game your ultimate goal is to take over the galaxy in one of three ways. The first and often most easiest path to victory is to gain control of the Senate. The second and next most difficult victory is to track down the five Antaran X items that are scattered around the galaxy. Finally, players can attempt to use military means to destroy other races in the galaxy which is definitely the hardest option given the size of the galaxy and the number of enemies you’ll encounter.


To achieve one of the victory conditions listed above players will have to use their diplomacy, technological advances and spies. Technology is arguable the most important aspect with six different types of research for players to pursue based on their preferred game style.

Master of Orion III has made plenty of changes to the gameplay compared to previous games and while not all of them will please fans it is still an impressive space 4X game overall.


  • The third game in the Master of Orion series.
  • New automated systems to help you handle the huge game maps.
  • Potentially thousands of planets to explore in each game.
  • 3 different win options with an interesting senate victory option.
  • Research technologies and craft powerful ships.

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Master of Orion III, 4.8 out of 10 based on 11 ratings
Reviewed on


  1. taltamir
    October 30, 2014

    MOO3 is a broken and unfinished game. It was released about a year early because it ran out of money.
    Community bugfixes cannot all that is broken with it.

    The extremely detailed overly specific and complex systems are in place. But they have never been properly balanced, nor have they gotten the tiered system of control. The promised “make broad stroke policy changes for the AI” is missing, in fact, for many components of the game there is no AI at all, even though it clearly needs it, making it a micromanagement hell.

    Much fun is sacrificed in the name of “realism”. Except some of the things that they deemed unrealistic are actually not. Not to mention there are some horrifically bad systems are in place which are ridiculously unrealistic.

    The box check claim of “New automated systems to help you handle the huge game maps.” is a flat out lie, this was promised and was part of the design, it just wasn’t implemented.


  2. dedbob
    June 2, 2015

    Actually, I bought this game shortly after its debut. I was a serious fan of both of its predecessors and, though the game really wasn’t released ‘as promised’, I have spent MANY long hours discovering the various ways to conquer the galaxy. The racial customization gives the player the ability to find a play style that’s most comfortable for them- or to find one that’s a whole new adventure to figure out. I am one of those fans of micro-management I hear so much about, sometimes, and MOO3 really made my day. There’s plenty to do, if you want to, and there’s plenty you can pretty much ignore if you’d rather do that. The galaxy can be ENORMOUS, which I love, and there’s just SO much to explore and do. Still love this game, all these years later. Not sure why the low rating, myself. I give it an easy 9.4 out of 10.



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