Review by soasemaps

"Sins of a Solar Empire - Full Review Space RTS"

Sins of a Solar Empire is a large scale multiplayer real time space strategy game for the PC released in 2008 by Ironclad Games.

The game opens with a short video explaining the story behind the game. But, like most RTS games, the story really isn't of any importance.

There are three factions available to play as, called races. TEC, Advent, and Vasari. Each race has unique ships, structures, and abilities, as well as many common ones as well. Each race also features 5 capital ship types with many unique and powerful abilities.

There are a few quick tutorials to get you started, which will explain the basics that you need to know to play the game. The learning curve could be called short or long, depending on opinion, as there are many different things you can do with each race. However, after the basic tutorial, you should have enough of a grasp of how to play to get right into it and learn the rest as you go.

Although there are no actual campaigns, you can choose from many in game maps as well as create your own custom maps with the in-game map editor. You can play alone against up to 9 other computer players, or you can play online versus live or a combination of live and computer players.

When you start a game, you will typically own one planet. For building and research, you need credits, metal, and crystal. Credits are earned from taxes by the population on planets you control. Metal and crystal are earned by building extractors on astroids near the planets you own.

Each map is divided into regions, called planets, although each "planet" could be a planet, an astroid, a pirate base, or several other non-colonizable regions. Each region is connect via "phase lanes", which you can send ships through.

You must decide how much of your resources go towards expansion, research, planet development, structures, and ships. One of the great challenges of the game is adjusting to different players, as expanding to quickly will leave you vunerable to attack, but concentrating solely on building up a large fleet quickly will leave you with little income.

The game is somewhat well balanced, although some abilities for each race may be to weak to be worthwhile or too strong to be fair. With each update released, gameplay is adjusted to try to even it out.

Capital ships are a valuable addition to your fleet. The first one you build on each map is free. the rest, however, are expensive and there are limits to how many you can build, depending on your research and available fleet capacity. Capital ships start at level 1 and gain experience by destroying hostile ships and structures, or simply by being present while the rest of your fleet does so. They can go as high as level 10, and become much more powerful with more abilities, better versions of the same abilities, more shield and hull points, and more weapons damage. Using leveled up capital ships with the right abilities and fleet combination could even turn the tide of the battle.

The game's scale can become massive. For example, in a large map later in the game you may find yourself controlling 10 or more planets, and fighting battles at several locations. Fortunately, All the ships and even some structures have automate options. All ships (except scouts) will automatically attack hostile ships within a planet's region. You can also set the ships to attack within the entire region, their immediate area, or to hold their position. Many other abilities can also be automated.

The graphics for the game are quite impressive, but unfortunately the game is usually too busy for you to appreciate it. The ships have highly detailed texture, but when zoomed out you only see an icon rather than the 3D rendering. If you zoom in close enough to see it, you're typically too zoomed in to effectively manage a battle.

Often, particularly in a bigger game, you'll find yourself rarely looking at a particular region, but rather the entire map. The empire tree feature allows you to see all your ships and structures in all regions, and select some or all of them from each region as well as issue commands, all without even zooming in to actually see them.

Of course, after playing for awhile you'll begin to know how the computer plays and it may start to get repetitive. The solution: Ironclad offers free online multiplayer, and things get much, much more interesting as just about anything could happen versus an unknown live player. You can play a game with up to 10 players in all.

The game is quite involving and addictive, so if you don't mind losing quite a bit of sleep, you should purchase the game and try it out. This is one of those games where, if you like the genre, it's a safe bet to go ahead and buy it. You'll almost definitely like it.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.5 - Outstanding

Originally Posted: 05/05/08, Updated 05/19/08

Game Release: Sins of a Solar Empire (US, 02/04/08)

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