Sins of a Solar Empire is the new 4x-RTS strategy game published by Stardock best know for the clut success of their Galactic Civilisation franchise and from developers Ironclad Studios. A small indie studio of which this is their first project. A long awaited title and heralded as the saviour of an increasingly forgotten sub-genre.
First of all let me just get out of the way just how bad the intro is. In the 90's its forgiveable but now technology has gotten to the point where every game should be able to put on a little show before kick off. Now I know that indie games dont have the 'Nasa' budget that Supreme Commander or World of Warcraft have for their videos but i did expect something more akin to a fast paced intro video, maybe some violence, maybe some cleavage, maybe both, just something to get me excited. So imagine my disapointment when it was just concept art originally made for a presentation to the Head Developer in his office/parents basement.
Once I viewed the slideshow to the opening menu i done what we all (should) do and dipped my talon in the preverbial prey, with the tutorial. It was... well it was a tutorial. Easy to follow and taught me everything i needed to know about the game. I suppose that would normally be a good thing however the reason its so simple to learn and easy to follow is that the game itself has so little content. A tutorial for, lets say, The Ardennes Offensive a square block world war 2 grand strategy game, would take about an hour just to get to the moving your units stage but with this you have a feeling of 'is that it?'. Also the games lack of any real micro-management, the game does what little of it there is for you, leaving a player twiddling their thumbs during battles.
As simple as the game is there is a lot of things to enjoy about it. First of all is their vision of capital ships. I like it. The capital ships cost more than a Yahoo takeover bid and are just as dangerous. While they are the ultimate powers of the universe, they are vunerable without support ships. Much like hero units in other RTS's the capital ships also level up, allowing the player to customize their fleet. Good idea and well executed. Another thing i like is its research tree, simple and clear, not overly complicated and daunting like some games who think the research tree needs to be thoroughly researched before research can begin on the research. Understand?
But what of the story? what are these 'Sins' that i have heard so much about? Good question and if you would like the answer i'd reccomend emailing Ironclad Studios or checking the lore section on the website. No campaign and a glorified skirmish for any single player action. I cant think why they wouldnt include a single player campaign as some of the best single players ive indulged in have been 4x's e.g Imperium Gallactica II. One would think that means its got an excellent multiplayer if they seem to look at single player mode as an outdated ideology, not unlike subsistence farming or worshipping dog-men as deities. Well the multiplayer is meh, enjoyable but no more so than countless other rts space games that have done the same as sins of a solar empire, only earlier. Also its worth noting that playing online is buggy at the moment with random drops, hopefully this will get resolved as there isnt much else for players to do.
And meh sums up the game very well. I was excited about this game, maybe even giddy for a while, but at its core its generic and has been done before. You cant add some RTS elements to a 4x title then call it original. Maybe i was expecting too much, maybe they overhyped it a little, maybe they were just playing a little out of their league. Dont get me wrong this is a decent game its just a shame its nothing more. If you want to save money then dust off Empire at War and play that instead, the only difference is the Wookies.
5 / 10