Sins of a Solar Empire - Brief Review

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Dev Posted: Sun, Jan 25 2009 9:03 PM

I'm putting my recommendation of this game out there for anyone who is looking for something in the 4x genre (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, eXterminate). Basically its a rts set in space. You command massive fleets and huge planetary colonial empires in the slickist most streamlined fashion. The two genius things about this game that make it different from other games such as Homeworld etc.

  • The Iron engine allows on very modest hardware huge disparities of scale. You are looking at solar systems at one end of the mouse wheel and petty strike craft( size of a boeing 747) on the other with out the slightest hint of lag. This gives a fantastic epic feel for the game.
  • The most intuitive interface ever to adhere such a complex strategy game. In similar tune to the iPod, it just smacks of why didn't anyone do this before!

The graphics are smooth, solid and tastful. Huge behemoths of industrial space carriers slide along in the most elegant fashion and when you zoom in you get that awesome low bass rumbling like in Star Wars. This is contrasted with the bulk of your fleet which is often hundreads of much smaller vessels. It almost looks like a thousand grains of rice and handful of grapes when you zoom out. The learning curve for the most part is smooth albeit has a lacklustre tutorial which leaves you feeling itially overwhelmed. After a few hours you will feel like a space age Caeser orchestrating massive armadas with the digital equivalant of a swath of your hand.

The game centres around planets and the gravity well (oulaying space) surrounding the planets. All vessels phase jump from these circles which confines the action to certain areas. It would be similar to having frogs battling over lilly pads on a very large pond. Avoiding the problem of excess space which the cosmos is indeed infamous for. Phase lines (paths your units can travel) connect only a few planets and asteroids creating a new dimension of macro strategy allowing for battles over choke points. The player must also as well as direct a substantial military look after his resource gathering and economic factors to further his war waging empire. Simple diplomacy is allowed and pseudo black market offers means to attain resources you might not otherwise have acces to. This all amounts to a richer game.

Its worth noting the pace of the game is slow, very slow. In fact the quickest of games will be a few hours. Lengthier ones can reach to dizzing 15-20 hour marathons. Online/LAN players can save progress and continue whenever. It isn't an intense game but rather the type you can play while cutting your toenails or at least the parts where you supervise previous plays you've just executed. Still plenty of scope for drama and game turna rounds though. The game is 3D but in reality plays out on a 2.5D plane. Stops confusing orientation of camera manouvers but there is still enough lee way for ships to go up and down which provides a more authentic expierence.

I don't want to finish off with anything that might put you off giving this game a shot but it must be said there is no single player in the plot sense. Which is a shame as I feel it could have only added to the game. However others have pointed out that games like Civ don't have a scripted plot either. Still there is enough material here for simply having a few skirmishs by yourself or messing about with others online to keep you busy for a long time. 

Thanks for reading,


PS, its an oldish game released in 2008. It was produced on a budget of $1 million (nothing in the game world) and was produced by Stardock (the guys who make windows blinds!). A weird gamer rags to riches thing. Don't just take my word for it its won awards left right and centre and has rave reviews from all the respected sources. IGN, Gamespy, Gamespot, Eurogamer etc. You can get it for $30 on digital from their webby or the same from a store.

Also I forgot how to post pictures from 'my files' in my profile. Can someone give me the lowdown again. Cheers.



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