Sins of a Solar Empire Review

Fans of turn-based galactic strategy games will probably find that Sins of a Solar Empire abstracts aspects of the game a bit too much for their tastes. There’s a diplomatic interface, but it just covers the basics of diplomacy such as peace treaties. In fact the diplomatic interface almost acts as a mission generator as alien races will request that you perform tasks for them in order to gain their trust and favor. I found this to be an interesting take on diplomacy but some purists may not like it. The game features a large tech tree for both civilian and military advancement, but ship designs are preset. You won’t be able to research a fancy new weapon and then build a custom ship class around it. These are just a couple of examples of how the game isn’t as complex as most of the 4X style games that have come before it. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing and it works well within the context of the game, but I just wanted you to be aware of these types of differences in case you were looking for the second coming of Master of Orion.

The path to success in Sins of a Solar Empire invariably runs down the road of conquest and you’ll need to build and manage a large fleet to win games. The ship AI is pretty good and you can often let it manage your battles for you. When enemy ships enter a system, the defending ships will move to attack, identify the priority targets, and take proper firing positions to take advantage of each ship class’ strengths. You’ll want to take control during critical battles, though, because individual ships can sometimes be distracted by targets of opportunity when they’re needed elsewhere.

The game adds an interesting wildcard faction into the game in the form of space pirates. The pirates occupy one of the planets in the system and at regular intervals send out large raiding parties to pillage nearby worlds. What really makes them a different foe than your rival empires is that they can be bribed to attack one of your enemies when they go on their next excursion. Of course, your enemies can do the same to you, and this leads to bidding wars in which empires try to increase the bounties on each other to direct the pirates elsewhere. The pirates add an interesting aspect to the game but this feature of the game needs to be tweaked a bit for balance. The biggest issue is that the interval between pirate raids is too small. You can find yourself in the midst of trying to put an end to a raid when next thing you know you’ve missed the bidding and the next wave of attackers is on its way. Also, the only bidding that really matters is the final flurry that occurs after the raid timer has hit zero. To keep the pirates at bay you need to spend a considerable amount of time watching the timer and then sitting on the bid screen so that you’re not outbid at the last second. It all requires too much management as it is implemented and hopefully a future patch of the game will address this issue.

Sins of a Solar Empire can be an engrossing game and it certainly has the ability to keep you playing way past your bedtime. The late nights are just partially due to the “just one more turn” phenomenon. Also responsible is the fact that there’s no such thing as a short game of Sins of a Solar Empire. A game played on the smallest map against a single opponent can easily require a four hour or more time commitment. Part of this is due to the nature of the game and part is due to the enemy AI. The AI is partial to taking a “turtle” approach to the game and will devote most of the early game to building up its systems and economy. It also doesn’t know when to quit, and you’ll be forced to fight the enemy down to its last asteroid before it will accept defeat.

Overall Sins of a Solar Empire is an easy game to recommend to strategy fans. It may put off RTS gamers who live off of rush tactics or turn-based gamers who like the luxury of taking all the time that they want to plot their next move. Everyone else will enjoy playing a strategy game that isn’t simply a clone of all of the space games before it and hopefully inspires some much needed innovation in the genre.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 88%. Sins of a Solar Empire doesn't do much wrong.

 



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