Eurogamer: Sins of a Solar Empire Review

By Kieron Gillen on March 3rd, 2008 at 3:53 pm.

LASER! LASER!

Eurogamer’s put up my review of Ironclad’s Space-epic RTS up on their fine organ. I start like this…

“The bits where you order a fleet of a hundred or so cruisers, frigates and capital ships to line up in an epic formation at the edge of a solar system, and jump simultaneously to a neighbouring solar system? Where dozens of portals open up, and your vessels accelerate through them trailing hyperbright lights? Wicked. When you get a mob of Siege Frigates in orbit above a populated world and giggle as the planet’s surface blossoms in what you have to presume to be nuclear detonations? Awesome. And when an enemy fleet appears in your solar system, and a dozen fighter and bomber wings take off, closing the distance to the incoming ships while your big boys ponderously manouevre to join in? Hell yeah!

It’s worthwhile to take a little time out to be shallow, because there’s going to be precious little opportunity for that as we go on.”

And then ramble on insensibly, as is my idiom. Our interview with Ironclad’s Blair Fraser and Stardock’s Brad Wardell can be still read over here. Oh – and expect a Sins Verdict at some point in the next few weeks.

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19 Comments »

  1. Alex says:

    I don’t know.. I absolutely loved SoaSE when I played for the first time (which was a game that took about 15 hours, I think) but my enthousiasm started to wane a bit the more I played it. It started to get a bit too repetitive but that could also just mean that I just wasn’t playing the game imaginatively enough, perhaps.

    I’d still say it’s a fantastic game, though. :)

    It’s also worthwhile to keep in mind that I’m the kind of player that generally is quite shit at RTS games and although this game seemed slightly daunting the first two hours or so, it just got deeper and deeper without scaring me off.

  2. Troy Goodfellow says:

    Sins is really a throw back when you think about it. The races are virtually interchangeable, the economy is as simplistic as that in Age of Empires and what little backstory there is is completely irrelevant. If you want personality, they give you voice cues and tech tree descriptions that paper over just how identical the three factions are in most things.

    Which means that all the small differences (placement of improvements in the tech tree, capital ship powers, etc.) are all you really have.

    And still, this is the most stunningly original scifi strategy experience I’ve had in a long time. It’s not the RTS/4x thing; that’s been done before. But the pacing is just about perfect, the style is inviting, and the name is, as you say, Really Awesome.

  3. Alex says:

    Although the tech trees are very alike, I do like how different parts of a race’s personality are highlighted by when a certain option becomes available to the race you’re playing – you know, how the Vasari are very focused on repressing people early on in their development, which highlights their fascistic/totalitarian views of the universe.

    I thought that was nicely done.

    Actually, the Advent might be a bit too obvious in this respect – being the elves or Eldar of the game.. ;)

  4. Troy Goodfellow says:

    Yeah, the tech trees are about when something becomes available more than what becomes available. Which adds just enough character to have a meaningful debate over who your favorite race is.

  5. Nuyan says:

    Bought it when it was out a few weeks ago, played it for a few days, somehow enjoyed it. But it’s not exactly what I want, posted my thoughts here. In short, I think it’s a bit too much Starcraft and not enough Civilization for me. I enjoy getting sucked into a epic game, but this lacks storyline, ends up in a micro-manage and zerg default RTS gameplay and doesn’t get immersive enough.

  6. UncleLou says:

    Agree with lots of what has been said here (and posted my thoughts i the EG forums and won’t repeat them here) – what I’d love to see is someone finally nailing a similar concept for a Civ-like game. Think Age of Empires meets Civilization. There have been several attempts, most notably the “Empire Earth” series and is “Empires” offspring and, of course, Rise of Nations – the latter was terrific, but much more of an RTS than I expected beforehand.

    Of course such a game would probably fall into similar traps as SoaSE, or be completely uncontrollable, but I’d just love for someone to try it.

  7. Turin Turambar says:

    I think this game it’s a very good beginning for a saga, but it’s clear it can be still a lot better.

  8. Alex says:

    I think this game it’s a very good beginning for a saga, but it’s clear it can be still a lot better.

    Well, there’s supposed to be extra content coming, so it’ll be interesting to see in which way they continue developing the game.

  9. Leeks! says:

    Hooray for a Sins verdict. It’ll be cool to see how everyone reacts to what’s considered a-pretty-well-excellent-game, rather than something that received a solid “meh” from the community from the outset.

  10. Peronthious says:

    SoASE is an excellent game, but not for the reasons most may think. As much as some may say, it is NOT an RTS game; the RTS aspects are far too shallow for that, consisting of little more than sending a massive fleet to a system and hoping for the best. Sure, you can micromanage to an extent, but it hardly helps any, unless you’re working with the Capital Ship abilities. Where the game really shines is in the deeper aspects, in diplomacy and economics. The piracy feature is genius, and a good player who can utilize influence can go far.

  11. UncleLou says:

    Where the game really shines is in the deeper aspects, in diplomacy and economics.

    It’s especially the diplomacy that I find (against the AI) the game’s weakest aspect. It’s basically “gimme’s something or I kill you”. Nothing is offered in return. It’s less a diplomacy than a basic bribing function.

  12. Alex says:

    Yeah, the diplomacy in singleplayer games isn’t very interesting – a real weakness for me is that I myself can’t give ‘missions’ to my opponents, it’s a strict one-way street, which is understandable but also makes little sense.

  13. Stromko says:

    It owes far more to Supreme Commander than it does Galactic Civilizations. That’s got to be said right away. It has the basics of the 4X term, you do explore, expand, exploit, and exterminate … but compare it to Civ 4 or Galactic Civilizations 2, and it’s remarkably unsatisfying.

    GalCiv2 could’ve shipped without a campaign and I wouldn’t have cared, but the lack of it in Sins actually matters to me. This is because you can’t make your own empire in Sins, there is no ownership of it.

    Starting in a random vacuum is only interesting to me when it’s a medium for playing the story I want to play. I can invest a meaning to a real 4X game, I can give a damn about crushing the world as Gandhi or playing as an insect hivemind or psychotic robots bent on galactic domination, but in Sins my only choice is what I want my units to be called (as in, what side I want to be).

    I hated Sins at first, then gained a grudging respect once I figured out how to actually survive. It is really polished, challenging, but the fun curve is decidedly short. Once I completed a skirmish with each of the races there was nothing more to do.

    Another go-around would’ve played exactly the same as the first, would’ve been exactly as meaningless.

    As an RTS it’s very damn good, as a 4X game it’s absolutely crap. It’s like comparing apples to fried chicken, if you’re in the mood for one you’re not necessarily in the mood for the other.

  14. sigma83 says:

    Sins takes too much time, which is my main beef. Otherwise I love very muchlies.

  15. rabbitsoup says:

    Nice looking, i want a demo though. I would just pirate it (still might) but its a small publisher and i doubt id go buy it if i thought it was good.

    is one coming??

  16. Alex says:

    They said there was a demo coming, yes. It shouldn’t be long, I think.

  17. A Lego Enthusiast says:

    “the easiest way to describe Sins of a Solar Empire is to take publisher Stardock’s previous game, Galactic Civilizations 2, and imagine it in real time.”

    Personally I thought “Ascendancy, but in real-time” was pretty much it.

  18. Kieron Gillen says:

    13 year old games with no sequels and not exactly a household name don’t make good things to namedrop to explain things in mainstream games sites.

    KG

  19. DigitalSignalX says:

    My only beef is also the time factor, but it’s also one of my compliments. It’s immensely satisfying to finish a 10 hour map, but then again – it’s also a bit tedious knowing you’ve still got 10 hours to go on one…