pallandrome (pallandrome) wrote,

Game Reviews: Sins of a Solar Empire

I have decided that I need to use this forum for the betterment of mankind. With that goal in mind, I will now give you my opinions on the games I play, to warn or excite you, as befitting.

Sins of a Solar Empire

The 4X genre, the special subsection of games beloved by those obsessed with space and all it's glory, has not changed a whole heck of a lot since Ye Olden Days of Homeworld. That's counting on eight years now folks. Ever since that rather impressive leap forward, most games followed the Start-with-a-single-trader-and-work-your-way-up-to-an-empire model. Sins skips the first several steps, bringing a feel closer to Civilization-meets-Starcraft than Trader Bob's used Space Mazda Dealership (EVERYTHING MUST GO!!!).

The result significantly speeds up the initial stages of any given map. To the outside observer the game appears positively glacial in it's pacing, but to the player, there is still not quite enough time to prepare for the next pirate attack. And oh the pirates do attack. As a feature, they provide a bribe-able faction that will be either a thorn in your side, or a valuable (if expensive) ally that keeps the other empires on the defensive as you continue to expand. It's never explained how these pirates manage to build their vast armadas from a barren asteroid with fewer resources that your most sparsely populated moon.

The graphics are acceptably pretty, but the gameplay doesn't give them much room to shine. Every time you zoom down small enough to oogle your new battlecruiser, you are in danger of being surprised by an attacking fleet three solar systems over. Add that there is no reason beyond simple vanity to take a close look at your ships and the graphics become a non-issue. The ships could look like flying space potatoes and I really would not care.

The other flaw of the game, is a sin (har har) of omission. There is no campaign mode.

What? Stardock went through all the trouble to build a storyline, complete with entertaining, if somewhat prosaic, opening cinematic, and they didn't even bother to have a storyline mode? That's right folks, this game is kinda like playing counterstrike multiplayer against only the bots. Sure, they are devious bots, on maps that reach thousands of light-years across, but they are bots nonetheless. Stardock has stated that they will consider offering a campaign mode for download at some later date. Take that as you will.

Conclusion: An excellent addition to the genre, weighed down by a senseless flaw. If you are a fan of 4x games, it's a must buy. If you are jonesing for a good strategy title, might be worth your time and money. If you are strapped for cash and space battles don't comprise your genre of choice, keep on walkin'.

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