Review by AnonymousField
"Oh I have Sinned. And that sin brings me utter domination!"
Sins of a Solar Empire is a very interesting game in itself, genre taken into consideration and all. It is on the RTS line of things, but scaled to a very, very dynamic size and balance. SINS (as I will call it from here on out) does a magnificent job blending in Military and Economic structure with strategy in taking out your foes, no matter who they might be. Anywho, time to discuss all in what is hopefully an accurate review from a timid player who second-guessed this game at first.
A lot of people say they have a problem with the graphics looking outdated and what not. However, I can't imagine this is so when I have the ability to zoom in by LIGHTYEARS and see even the metal plating on my ships. When things are destroyed, debris is left behind. When my army of 1,000 ships, I see those 1,000 lasers/machine guns blasting away. The graphics are simply gorgeous, especially when it comes to the view of the solar systems, their stars, their planets, and so forth.
The main thing to keep in mind is simply the ability to zoom in on ships. You won't do it often except to see your massive fleet in action (and zooming out to control your fleet makes them look like micro machines) but all in all, the detail put into this game is simply beyond divine.
The only gripe I have, which may be related to my computer itself, is the stuttering that occurs when those thousand ships decide to dominate an equally large force. Because so much is going on, my computer tends to slow down. But that's really about system spec in any case, at least I think.
We'll start off with the score and then do sound effects.
The music in this game, in my honest opinion, is beautiful and very befitting of most atmospheres. It provides a nice ambiance that flows with the entire solar system. No matter where you are. Things seem pleasant while working in your home worlds, yet turns hostile as enemy ships are under way. When pirates have been paid their dues to attack, an intriguing intermission plays for the duration of their assault, whether it's you or another player. The music can be very dark and dramatic during long fleet wars, or very calm and soothing as you simply gaze about the solar systems.
The sound effects, on the other hand, possibly could have been a little better. The "lasers go PewPewPew" is not an understatement here. Though the sounds of fleet ships and fighting match the noises they SHOULD make, it can't be helped that I feel the sounds effects were a little "muffled" or "bogged down".
Yes, I gave this area a perfect score. There are a couple gripes, but the devs are already working on the majority of them, and they don't really interfere with my whole mood during the time I play. Be warned, for any mission you play, you will be spending at LEAST a couple hours trying to get your economy/military into a strong enough position to advance and take everything over.
The interface is probably the most noticeable thing when it comes to the gameplay. In SINS, you have a very streamlined UI that makes for very easy maneuvering and macro-managing. You have pins to instantly go to certain worlds, certain fleets, even certain ships. At the click of a button you can mass produce starships from one planet, rally them to the next, and have them join specific fleets from then on. The only problem I have is that you can't customize that easily. But all in all, I don't really need to since they did such a great job themselves.
Now the actual gameplay. The act of economizing and building your military. The meat and potatoes of the game. This is not intended to be like StarCraft or any derivative thereof. Remember this is a 4x RTS game scaled to insane heights. At first, the gameplay is slow where you have simple drones doing your work to build ship ports and mineral extractors. For each planet you have, you get a fixed income, and can even build the planet "larger" through upgrading it's "infrastructure". The idea behind having trade ports and hangars to defend the planet come to an amazing factual experience of how to govern your own peoples, and how to protect them.
Each mechanic of every planet is displayed in accordance with size, allegiance (how far from your designated home world bases their allegiance and how willing they are to stay under your control), and "slots" in which you use to build other important structures. Large "terran" planets have the most slots available to build extra structures, while things like asteroids are only there for extra income and building possibly a port or two; possibly even used as a vantage point to chokehold your opponent.
The ships, the eye candy, also play important roles. They obviously do your dirty work in taking over the galaxy. There are three factions to note, and different vessels that combine to make a "rock, paper, scissors" effect. Now it's not to say what race beats what race, but rather what ship combination and abilities will help against the other races' ships and abilities. In this way, combinations are endless as you can have up to 1,000 ships or more. Literally.
I think the only gripe here a lot of people have is how fast ships move. They're old-fashioned in that they line up in most cases and begin shooting each other. But who can really say this isn't right as you think of capital ships, many times the size of say Deep Space Nine from Star Trek, trying to zoom around at the speed of light? The mechanics in movement and combat play very well to physics.
The AI of the computer is also important to note here as it strategizes quite well. If you are dominating the field, the computer can (and will) ally with other computers to take you head on. Or if they're in trouble and need your help, they may request an alliance for added support to conquer. The AI is not perfect as being unpredictable like humans, but they did a damn good job impersonating our actions.
Last, but not least, and still important is the "researching" in this game. Researching is what really allows gameplay to shine as you have both economical advances you can make to rule the black market and have heavenly treasures, and military advances to get better ships, weapons, armor and so forth to dominate the playing field. How you start out is really up to you. Even better though, I haven't so much as found a useless research skill to pass up for another. The trees are incredibly well-balanced for all races.
I can't score this really as the devs never had intention of putting story in. They give you a slight nudge that the humans (TEC in game) are being brought to the frontlines against two powerful forces: the Vessari and the Advent. The Vessari, honestly, give the Zerg feel from StarCraft while the Advent give you the feel of the Protoss. What you do from this point when the TEC reach those frontlines is completely up to your imagination. That's how it was intended, and that's how I'm leaving it.
Now let me say again, this game has no story or ending. However, when you thinka bout replayability, it's off the charts. You have so many options. You can choose a different race, make different strategies, go for economy or military rule first, and each map is ALWAYS different when it comes to resources and structures. Your diplomacy may want to grow, or perhaps you want to take everyone on in a FFA. Endless, endless possibilities.
A lot of people may argue with this score. Mainly because the game takes so long to finish that perhaps many won't want to stick around. But this is more or less about the effectiveness of multiplayer and how you can blend with the game to create something so massively balanced. The multiplayer is great, especially with other actual human players as you can sort out diplomacies and alliances, or even break them. Betrayal is something that can't be taken lightly in this game as one false move can crumble your empire. It's simply all so unpredictable that it makes each game a new experience. But even the ai has it's moments of glory and treason.
Add in the ability to make your own maps or have everything generated randomly is also an icing on the cake.
So let's review the pros and cons of the game, as every review usually does.
+Great music to go with the gameplay
+Well-balanced economy and military systems
+Fun online play (if you have the time)
+The most insane strategies you can make during combat...
-Sound effects could be better
-No story, but intended
-Can bog down your system with too many units
So overall, if you're even thinking of buying it. Do so. You won't be disappointed. Dont expect it to be like Civ or anything (since it isn't turn based) but expect a very strategic and involving adventure into the unknown. As this wasn't too much of a composite, it receives a 9/10 in my book.
Reviewer's Score: 9/10 | Originally Posted: 02/19/08
Game Release: Sins of a Solar Empire (US, 02/04/08)
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