Review by Theshamen
"Why is this game so addicting?"
Sins of a Solar Empire, a bit of a sleeper hit if you will, I saw next to no advertising for it, and I only heard about it while researching the secuROM "anti-pirate" software that is being put into games. This game goes the entirely opposite direction, it barely even uses a CD-Key. The developers reasoning? Their customers didn't want to deal with it. But enough of the complaining lets get into why this game makes me sit in front of my computer for ten hours.
They aren't the prettiest when compared to some of games being released latley but they get the job done. However the ships still look pretty and detailed, and you can even see the orbital satellites and shuttles that rotate around a fully developed planet. Each of the three UNIQUE (I'll talk about this more later) races each have their own distinct design. The TEC are very geometrical and have a generally manufacturing like look to them. The Advent have sleek and bright ships, they favor symmetrical ships and look very clean. The Vasari are a mix of the two's designs. They don't look as industrial as the TEC but they aren't as clean and sleek as the Advent either. However you often won't see much of this, because most of the game is played in a zoomed out view so you can survey the entire battlefield, which can include anywhere from 10-400 planets. Each unit has it's on icon and each empire has their own icon and color. Not only that but they made it easy for you and each of your planets has a little chart on the left side of the screen that has an Icon for each and every structure and unit there. They even threw in a search feature.
Along with some nice music each and every unit has it's on unique sound. They even throw in varying accents just for good measure. The score is very beautiful, and reacts to whats happening. In times of "peace" or at least when you can't see any fighting you hear a nice calm peaceful score. However when you attack or are being attack a song plays that clearly tells you that something somewhere is getting blown up. You hear each gauss shot, missile launch, and beam laser sound thing as they go off throwing in a nice feeling of chaos during the big battles.
One of the hardest things is too take two seperate entities and balance them, whats even harder is doing it with three. This game was tested, balanced, tested, balanced, over and over until they had to release it, and even now they still release patches balancing things out. This game focuses as heavily on it's economy as it does fighting. It will be rare to ever have an excess of anything. Any money not spent on planet structures and ships will be spent on research. Research is a crucial part of the game, and instead of giving all three races the same research trees, they mixed them up (every race has the basic give more armor research for example albeit in different spots in their trees) and gave some races options others don't have. For example the shield intensive Advent can upgrade their shields right off the bat while the TEC has the wait till further down the line. On the flip side, the TEC can immediately start increasing its income VIA research while the Advent must wait. Each race has your basic attack frigate, long range frigate, etc etc But the strength of each varies between races. A interesting addition to this game are capitol ships. These are your "hero" units, they have special abilities that upgrade as they grow in experience, culminating at level 6 with a super ability, though they top off at level 10. Each ship has a different special between each race. For example, the TEC's heavy assault Capitol Ship's special increases it's performance drastically (stronger, faster, more regeneration) while the Advent's heavy assault Capitol ship shoots a beam of death at a target that hurts anything around it. Be ready for these games to last anywhere from an hour to 10 hours, with anywhere from 2 to 10 empires battling it out. I could go on forever on this but I must move to other areas.
This game doesn't have a campaign, all they have is a backstory. The Vasari were once a mighty empire conquering worlds left and right, until they settled down for a while to strengthen and unit their empire. One day they lost contact with a planet, so they sent a fleet to investigate no one came back. So they gathered the majority of their war-ready ships and recreated their Dark Armada, the giant fleet that was used in their conquest of the majority of the space that was known to them. One ship returned from the Dark Armada literally falling apart it's crew insane with fear. Since that day the Vasari have been running from that unknown force, only stopping to gather resources from planets, leaving warning signals on each planet, so they knew how far the unknown force was behind them. When they stumbled upon TEC space they began their usual conquer and harvest tactics. The TEC (Trader Emergency Coalition) is a coalition of Human traders who united for a thousand years of prosperity. When the Vasari arrived the TEC was ill prepared after many years of peace and prosperity. But they started fighting back, turning their massive industrial system, into a war machine, converting many ships into war-ships. As the TEC finally began to make headway against the Vasari, the Advent reappeared. The Advent are a crazy desert cult who seeks to unify all under their religion, and kill those who oppose it. Years ago the TEC exiled them and they had waited until this moment to come back for revenge. With the three sides hopelessly deadlocked, the Vasari watch in horror as they are unable to move and make headway, and as each of their warning beacons slowly grow dark, one by one. It has been announced however that an upcoming expansion will indeed have a campaign and most likely reveal this dark mysterious race.
This is multiplayer done right, it's easy to find a game and join it and the community is good for the most part. Bots and AI's can easily fill in for players, and interaction is highly encouraged via trade, peace agreements, missions, and sometimes bounties. As I said before it is VERY easy to find yourself stuck in front of your computer for 10 hours watching as your massive (and I do mean massive you can support giant amounts of ships) fleets go from planet to planet.
Sins of a Solar Empire is game that a look froward to seeing more of, with a great development team and an interesting story and game play style this game is a must buy for any pc owner.
Final Rating: 9/10
Reviewer's Rating: 4.5 - Outstanding
Originally Posted: 06/11/08
Game Release: Sins of a Solar Empire (US, 02/04/08)
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