March 22nd, 2016

Time Played: 20 Hours

Last Played: 3/18/2016

Sins of a Solar Empire – Rebellion: This title is too long already

I was originally going to name this review, “Hold on, I just need to nuke their entire population” But then the title would have been like an entire paragraph and… Honestly, I couldn’t be bothered.
But that would have been a great title because that’s basically been my experience with this game so far. Casually asking my friend to kill entire planet’s worth of people in exchange for military support, resources, or just because they’re annoying.

Just because I am bad guy, doesn’t make me a bad… guy.
I bought this game during the Christmas sale on Steam last year, but hadn’t played it until like Tuesday of last week, that is to say on or around the 15th of March. Remember when I played Helldivers for like fifteen hours over a weekend with my buddy? Yeah… Same thing here. Sins of a Solar Empire is pretty dope. I played about five or six games over spring break, and enjoyed every minute of it.

Sins has been on my radar since the original came out back in like… 2008, wait let me check… Yeah it was 2008. I’ve always thought it looked dope, but never took the plunge. Well, I can say that it was definitely worth the wait. It’s a lot like a real time Endless Space, crossed with Supreme Commander. Except it’s approachable and is just deep enough to be rewarding, and ‘lite’ enough to be easily grasped without being daunting.

The game centers around … well I actually don’t know the story, but what I do know is the game sports three factions, each with a Loyalist and Rebel side. Which means in gameplay terms, that there are six factions. Although the Loyalist and Rebel sides are similar, they have different research that allows differentiated gameplay. Like for example, there are giant fleets of space Pirates present on the star map. They will put bounties on players and eventually attack them. And although you can manipulate it by placing bounties yourself, if you’re on the receiving end of the attack, it can drastically hamper your success in the game.

The TEC Rebel faction can become allies with the Pirates, completely negating the disadvantage. Not only will they not attack you, but the Brigands surrounding un-colonized planets basically become free body guards. It’s incredibly powerful, if not a bit overpowered.

And although each faction has ships that fill the same archetypes, their style of play definitely makes them all feel distinct. After playing each, one you will quickly get a feel for their strengths and weaknesses. They all feel unique but familiar– which is nice. It’s not hard to jump from the TEC to the Vasari, or the Vasari to the Advent.

And while the game does have many different win conditions, I found that it’s best suited for ANNIHILATION! Or rather, that’s how we played, because we’re noobs and blowing things up is easier than talking to them.

And while the game is definitely more approachable than other 4X games I have played, it does still have many of the quarks that that are always present in the genre. Such as the ‘culture’ system, which is interesting to say the least. You build massive orbital Media Hubs around your planets and they blast your Media through the star systems, spreading your culture into the surrounding planets. This will lower the enemy planet’s allegiance and presumably convert them to your empire at some point.

Hearts and minds.

But all that aside, my twenty hours were spent committing horrible genocide across the galaxy. Paul Atreides, Muad’dib–  lamented that his forces spread across the galaxy and killed sixty billion in a needless Jihad.

Child’s play.

Why go to an enemy planet when you can bombard it with interstellar nuclear missiles? “Hey, I’ll bombard their capital if you send reinforcements to my planet.” And then billions died.

The scope of Sins of a Solar Empire is certainly one of the stronger points of the game. The maps range from a handful of planets around one star. To Hundreds of planets around dozens of stars. In some cases the game feels intergalactic rather than merely interstellar. And it’s definitely compelling to think about launching a massive three fleet invasion into another galaxy. Taking it one hard fought planet at a time, systematically dismantling what could only be centuries of hard work. But I have an overactive imagination… Also they started it.

Sins focuses heavily on the Macro aspect of things, which lends itself well to the Supreme Commander comparison. There isn’t really much that you can do on a micro level; other than the positioning of planetary defenses, such as mines and missile platforms. But other than a few abilities the Capital Ships have, most ships are capable of taking care of themselves. They don’t require commands other than to retreat or to focus fire. If you’re more into the micro aspect of RTS games, then sins might not be for you. It’s definitely more of an abstracted “Big Picture” type of game.

But despite there not being a lot to do in moment to moment combat, there is a surprising amount of plates to spin. Especially when you’re Empire stretches across more than a handful of worlds. You need to make sure your trade routes are properly constructed, that your outer planets are properly defended, while also defending your inner planets. You need to be sure to actually develop your worlds to increase the population and rake in more tax income. You need your centers of production to be near the active areas of your empire; otherwise your fleets won’t be able to respond in time if there is an attack.

One of the things that really adds to the scope, but could definitely turn people off… Is that it takes forever to get anywhere in Sins. And while it doesn’t necessarily bother me… It could take upwards of ten minutes for your fleets to arrive at their destination. Maybe even longer depending on the size of your Empire. And as far as I can tell there isn’t a way to make them travel between planets faster, other than being the Vasari– but that’s a different story.

There have been many occasions where my friend needed support to defend a planet from an invading fleet. And I would try to send reinforcements, only to have the battle be over by the time I reached the next system over…. Space is big, yo.

But I really don’t have a lot of negative things to say about this game. It’s just a big fun space war simulator; and I really enjoy that. It’s not trying to be something it isn’t. There’s enough there to be entertaining, and it’s just deep enough to hold your interest. It’s like a lean beef Po’Boy sandwich, it might not be the best sandwich ever… But it sure does hit the spot…

You should check it out, at the time of this writing it’s currently on sale too!

Score!

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