Review: Sins of a Solar Empire

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Review: Sins of a Solar Empire

Postby Suck. » Mar 13th, 2008 at 9:33 am

I highly recommend checking this one out. It's a blend of RTS and 4x genres. It was released about a month ago, and you can expect a demo sometime very soon.

You pick one of three races to duke it out as in a quest to dominate the galaxy (or up to 5 galaxies). Even with such a large scale, the gameplay remains manageable. At the start of the game, you begin with a home planet, then set out to colonize uncharted planets which you must find/explore (not difficult, as there are set "phase lanes" that determine paths between planets). You can build structures in the gravity wells of your planets that range from ship building factories and tech research facilities to tactical strike craft hangars and turrets for defense. As planets are quickly claimed, focus shifts towards taking over your opponents' planets. There's a delicate balance between defending what's yours and staying ambitious to gain new territory, and there are several basic strategies to winning.

There are three resources that drive your economy -- credits, metal, and crystal, which are tied to each planet you take over as well as trade posts and resource refineries. In addition, there is a black market for metal and crystal, so that you can sell off excess for more credits or buy badly needed resources in a crunch. The other side of the underworld are pirates, who raid periodically based on how much bounty is placed on each player's head (you can raise bounty in the underworld section). Unless you have really solid planetary defenses, pirates can cause havoc in your colonies.

As for setup, you can make predetermined teams, or play in FFA mode, and as long as there are at least three factions, you can make diplomatic ties on various levels (no hostilities, trade alliances, shared ship vision, shared planetary vision, and full ally status). The AI will give you missions to complete, ranging from tribute (offering resources) to raids (destroying enemy structures or ships), which will boost your standing with them and lead to diplomatic ties. There are a variety of maps to play, ranging from different scenarios and challenge maps to randomly generated maps.

There's also a very active mapping community which has some excellent selections that you can download. This comes to another really strong point of the game. It's designed to be very friendly to modders, and there are already some pretty cool mods out that alter gameplay, add functionality, and create new units, technologies, etc. for the game.

The game has two primary shortcomings. First, there's no singleplayer campaign, despite a backstory and great potential. You can take on AI players singleplayer, which is plenty challenging and quite fun, but it's really best as a multiplayer game. The second is that due to the sheer scale of the game, especially if you're playing on a multi-galaxy map, games can take several hours... which on the other hand could be a nice change of pace if you got tired of Zerg rushes in Starcraft.

To see more, check out I know that several of you already are playing this, so please add anything I've left out.


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Postby Best_predator » Mar 13th, 2008 at 7:01 pm

Looks pretty cool. Never played those outer space RTSs.
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Postby K2 » Mar 14th, 2008 at 4:52 am

I asked Jenn to pick me up a copy and send it out.

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Postby Catharsys » Mar 14th, 2008 at 10:29 am

Similar to Homeworld, based more on expansion management. Unit control is a bit lacking and the AI is annoying at times. Decent game, but a campaign would of made it. The modding scene is pretty nice though.

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