Repentance: Sins of a Solar Empire Returns

By Alec Meer on March 1st, 2011 at 8:07 pm.

This isn't a Rebellion screenshot. But let's all pretend it is, so I don't look so bad

Stardock might have broken a few hearts with the whole Elemental launch fiasco (for which they recently offered a remarkably earnest mea culpa), but it’s clear they’re still well aware what’s important. Specifically, an epic comeback for Sins of a Solar Empire, the space strategy game that got RPS’s hive-heart all a-flutter back in 2007. It is to return, in the form of standalone expansion pack Rebellion. Immediately standing out in the list of planned features is “New Titan-class ships: Massive warships for each race that dwarf capital ships, these deadly new monsters are capable of wiping out entire enemy fleets single-handedly.”

Massive. Dwarf. Deadly. Monsters. Single-handedly. These are all mighty promising words. These, truly, are words of space war.

At the risk of being targeted by the damning nets of Churnalism.com, I will first brazenly the paste the feature list, as rewriting them would in this instance achieve very little:

New Factions: Players decide whether to become Loyalists or Rebels, which unlocks a unique new tech tree granting them new technologies and ship variants.
New Titan-class ships: Massive warships for each race that dwarf capital ships, these deadly new monsters are capable of wiping out entire enemy fleets single-handedly.
New Capital Ships: A new capital ship class arrives, giving players new strategic options.
New Corvette-class ships: Small, highly maneuverable light ships that are adept at a variety of tasks.
Loyalist and Rebel versions of some of the existing Sins’ frigates and cruisers, each with their own unique strengths and weaknesses.
Updated lighting and particle effects for enhanced visuals.
New Victory Conditions to allow for more variety, differing strategies and shorter game sessions.
Additional capital ship ability levels, for greater strategic choice.
Impulse::Reactor support for chat, friends, achievements and more.

Which all sounds jolly good, but you’ll note the repeated mentions of Loyalists and Rebels. That’s the theme of this expandelionalone – sub-factions splintering out of the existing star-houses in pursuit of their imperial destiny. Politics has failed, essentially. Now, there is only war.

Achievements and multiplayer leagues are also promised. This all sounds suspiciously (but positively) as though it’s about rebooting Sins for an even more online age than when it launched, one where incremental updates and more persistent levels of multiplayer are part and parcel of modern gaming. I can get behind that – in a way, it’s better than spending so much time and resource on a full sequel right away. Instead, make something that people love even better. In theory, anyway.

I can’t find a release date for this yet, but more details are on the official site. “Soon” would be an excellent date if you’d like to give us one, Stardock.

Thanks, Thomas45.

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58 Comments »

  1. Bilbo says:

    PC Gamer printed my reader review of Sins back in the day, and in my youthful arrogance I awarded the game a score of 0%, ostensibly because it was a bit dull and I was hoping for Homeworld 3, I think. I’ve grown up a bit since then, and this is an exciting development.

    • WMain00 says:

      0 is a bit harsh, but certainly my experience with Sins was pretty lacklustre. I felt the biggest problem with it was that the ships didn’t move at all in combat, effectively making any combat affairs a case of whomever has the biggest weapons/largest fleet wins.

      That and I found the ship models for all the races really ugly and unrealistic. It just didn’t gel with me at all.

    • Bilbo says:

      Harsh to say the least! I was taking the piss a bit I think

    • pizza65 says:

      YES! I thought almost the same thing. Coming from homeworld, where you spend the whole time being dazzled by the weaving and dogfighting, it was so dull. I’m sure there are some things you can do with fleet positioning and such, but I couldn’t be bothered to play long enough to find out.

      I mean, it’s *space*. Exciting battles are usually a given.

    • Iskariot says:

      @Bilbo,
      Same thing here. I bought Sins, hoping to see beautiful tactical space battles of Homeworldian proportions. But I hated it from the first tot the last second I played it. I was terribly disappointed by the generally ugly, amateurish ship designs and boring, boring, boring battles.
      I would not have given the game 0%, but at least 10% per hour played, which amounts to about 40 or 50% at most. After reading some of the positive comments below I am however tempted to try the game again. But I am afraid it just is not for me. I’d rather spend my time with the good old Homeworld games. They never bore me and I still play them.

    • Bilbo says:

      Aye, the strategic layer is okay, with expansion and the tech tree and such, but the tactical part, if it even exists beyond rock-paper-scissors, really leaves me cold with Sins. You’re still better off with Homeworld 2, I reckon.

    • jackflash says:

      It’s been pretty well established that if you went into Sins expecting a tactical game you were not looking in the right place. That said, it’s an immensely fun multiplayer RTS.

    • ScubaMonster says:

      RTS with boring battles is a snore fest.

    • 12kill4 says:

      Person who does not like strategically focused RTS games does not like strategically focused RTS game. :O

      ALTERNATIVELY:

      Person who cares about flashing lights doesnt like game that doesnt care about flashing lights. :O

    • Bilbo says:

      Ag, we were discussing the game in good faith until that point. What a shame. Taking “lack of tactical depth” to mean “lack of flashing lights” is pretty stupid, so good job there. That clearly isn’t what we were saying. You like the game – good for you – medal in the post – don’t ruin your stunning achievement by stomping in here and accusing me of only being interested in “flashing lights”.

  2. Miker says:

    I love me some Sins, even though I’ve always been a StarCraft kind of guy when it comes to strategy games. It’s an expandalone, which makes me think it’ll retail for about $30 — if it’s good, I’ll probably pick it up soon after launch.

  3. Inglourious Badger says:

    Was Sins of a Solar Empire good? I don’t remember it being good. Not that I played it, I mean from a word of mouth/review perspective. Maybe I should play it. Should I play it?

    • LimEJET says:

      It is probably the best 4X strategy game in existence. Yes you should play it.

    • westyfield says:

      It was good, you should play it.
      The music alone was worth it.

    • Vinraith says:

      Play the demo. It’s pretty, its scale is impressive (though it’s 99% unusable space), but at the end of the day there’s not much to it.

    • Rich says:

      Sword of the Stars is better. Much deeper.

    • Urael says:

      Yeah, Sins isn’t anywhere near as deep or involving as Sword of the Stars (criminy – release number two already, chaps!) but what it does, it does well enough to engage your need for simple space warfare chess.

      This will probably go on my shopping list for the refreshed graphics alone. :)

    • tempest says:

      @LimEJET “It is probably the best 4X strategy game in existence”

      I would go as far as saying it’s the best strategy game in existence, period (maybe tied with the first Supreme Commander and its add-on). And if the StarCraft fans plan to come out of the woodwork, I’ll preventively state that in my opinion that clickfest that they call a strategy game does barely qualify as strategy compared to Sins.

    • westyfield says:

      Starcraft? Isn’t that a rhythm-action game?

      SupCom 1 is the best RTS. Sins is close, definitely in the top 5.

    • Duke of Chutney says:

      “It is probably the best 4X strategy game in existence. Yes you should play it.”

      very dubious statement, might offend more hardcore 4x fans

      Sins is imo an RTS masquerading as a 4x. It has all the things it needs to be technically defined as a 4x (i.e the 4x’s and a 4x resource base style of play) but the combat and research strategy is very RTS. Combat is more like supercom, or homeworlds than Master of Orion, or Galciv.

      Its a very accessible and intuitive game, but has all the limitations of most RTS’s. (essentially that battles can boil down to micro management, and building right set of rock paper scissors relationship stuff).

    • Commisar says:

      yes, an excellent 4X games IN SPACE. but if you can, get the triple pack now. because it is now really hard to find all of the expansions separate, so I will probably buy the triple pack even though I own the original

    • Vinraith says:

      @Rich

      I’ve always said that Sword of the Stars is the game I wanted Sins to be, and I still hold to that. Funnily enough, that’s also kind of true of AI War. I’d certainly recommend either of them long before I’d recommend Sins.

      @Duke of Chutney

      Sins is imo an RTS masquerading as a 4x.

      That’s a better way of putting it than I’ve ever managed, I may have to steal that.

    • Fumarole says:

      …it is now really hard to find all of the expansions separate…

      I hope you mean from a brick and mortar shop. Not that it matters, since the retail version can be registered with Impulse.

      http://www.impulsedriven.com/sinsdiplo
      http://www.impulsedriven.com/sinsentrench

    • malkav11 says:

      Yeah, it can’t possibly be the best 4X because it’s not a 4X. It’s a glacially paced RTS with a slightly wider scope and larger tech tree than usual. (Seriously, -glacial-. I’ve never before had to turn the speed -up- in an RTS.) And while I didn’t particularly enjoy my time with the game, I suppose I could see it being more strategy-friendly than most RTSes, if only because of that pace. I’d still never rate any RTS at all as being a better straight up strategy game than the turn-based games in that category. The simple fact of the action occurring in real time, even slowly, makes the game at least as much about managing your interaction speed and attention as it is about any actual strategizing.

      I was kind of hoping to see this expansion introduce a proper campaign – it’s not nearly deep enough to make skirmishes interesting to my mind, and there’s apparently interesting backstory that is currently all but imperceptible in the actual game. Since that’s not on the agenda, I’ll be skipping it. Ah well.

    • RegisteredUser says:

      Could people please stop with the SOTS praise? There are bound to be some gullible people who actually end up believing it.

      It’s one of the most cheaply made, shallow, oversimplified pieces of garbage I tried to play.
      And not just once, but 4 times. Research is a c*nt to navigate interface wise, let alone plan for, ship design is a laugh, planet improvement is essentially 2 sliders and combat is “close your eyes and pray”(and this with “aim at individual ship parts!!11″ marketing).
      And don’t get me started on the homo-erotic voice acting.

      Both Armada 2526 and Distant Worlds stole over 9000 more hours of my time each than SOTS.

      Distant Worlds(the original one, have not played the expansion yet) especially at the very least has something remotely resembling player controlled space combat, and is – despite way too many interface mistakes – one of the few games with an actually surprising amount of attempt at detail.

    • Urael says:

      @Registered User.

      No. :)

      Your subjective opinion is perfectly valid but please allow others to have their subjective opinions also. You’ll just have to get used to being in a minority camp. ;)

      I’ve been meaning to try Distant Worlds for a while now – it looks fairly cool, and I hear the expansion has tidied up many of the interface problems – but I have to say that Armada 2625 ran like a dog on my machine, spoiling the entire deal for me.

  4. Vinraith says:

    Sins was massive and pretty, but puddle deep. Hopefully the new features will lend it some much-needed substance, though I find it hard to believe it’s going to be able to compete for my affections in the face of the infinite well of depthy goodness that is AI War and its expansions.

    Funnily enough, my disappointment with Sins (which I preordered) is the reason I didn’t preorder Elemental.Perhaps there is balance in all things after all.

    • Bhazor says:

      To me it was the best parts of a 4X game combined with the worst parts of an RTS.

  5. Mr_Hands says:

    Coincidentally, I booted this up over the weekend and refused to stop playing it until everything had more or less clicked.

    I found myself enjoying it immensely. Don’t know why it took me so long. I tend to get a little Quixotic, though, pumping way too much money into pirates during the early game that they’re utterly out of hand by mid-game.

    Either way, I’m very excited about this news.

  6. Sarlix says:

    I hope they include proper multi-core support in this latest addition. As much as I loved this game, I couldn’t fully enjoy it because of various performance issues. Despite having a perfectly capable PC. Someone with a quad-core power house would be running it at low FPS, while someone else with an old P4 setup would be sailing smooth with a 50 planet map going, it made no sense :-(

  7. Creeping Death says:

    Sins was one of those games I really wanted to love, and it did seem awesome, unfortunately it only seems to be able to run for about 10 mins on my machine before crashing :/

  8. skinlo says:

    I really enjoyed it! :)

  9. Doctor_Hellsturm says:

    Ah, so much bickering! I found Sins to be absolutely lovely despite its minor flaws (static movement of ships, yes indeed). With all the expansions i don’t think depth is a problem anymore, as long as you don’t measure everything against Gal Civ II. Very much looking forward to this and hope they fix the one thing that every 4x is struggling with:
    Please make some more gamebreakers to turn the tide once it flows with/against you.

  10. Premium User Badge

    drewski says:

    Is there a robust singleplayer game in it yet?

    • DrGonzo says:

      I really enjoyed playing it in single player. I don’t like story driven strategy games in general, and I’m not quite sure how that would be achieved in Sins. As I said though, I enjoyed it in single player, it can take longer than most single player games to finish the really big maps.

    • Ginger Yellow says:

      There’s still no campaign, if that’s what you mean. But skirmishes are plenty fun, and the AI is much improved (though it still cheats like a bastard on higher difficulties). I’ve played nothing but singleplayer since release and I’m still sinking a dozen hours or so into it each month.

  11. Deano2099 says:

    Did they ever do a campaign? There was talk like they might then I lost track?

    • DrazharLn says:

      Nope, AFAIK there have never been plans for any campaign mode and it was definitely never implemented. You can play singleplayer games against the AI, though.

  12. Small Ivory Knight says:

    Space Ponies.

    That is all.

  13. meeples says:

    I found this game really dull and irritating, constantly whining at me to build more research stations to research more research stations so I can build more research stations. Got dull quickly and the whole RPG capital ships didn’t interest me.

  14. Kevin says:

    What about a campaign?

    Yes, the 20+ hour long skirmishes are all well and good. But with the fluff behind Sins so good, a single-player narrative would be quite nice.

  15. Bilbo says:

    Free shipping? Gee, how exciting! Sadly, I’m not a king, so I can’t buy your shoes :( but you’re right, the presence of shirts, bags, and “hat” in your inventory certainly was surprising!

  16. JoeX111 says:

    Bilbo, you must be mistaken! Clearly it reads: Shoes Forking!

  17. Madlukelcm says:

    I would have loved it if they made a decent campaign to go with it. :/

  18. godkingemperor says:

    I love the title so much more than the game itself

    • Eightball says:

      I think I played for an hour or two, but are there any actual empire-based sins? Civilians massacred, enemy leaders assassinated, peaceful neighbors enslaved, dissidents nerve-stapled? The game seemed kind of sterile given its title.

  19. 12kill4 says:

    I just started playing this again like 5 days ago… and I’ve played about 13hrs so far.. :O THIS WILL NOT HELP ME GRADUATE YOU BASTARDS!

  20. spelvin spugg says:

    I’m not too excited about this. I bought SOASE and liked it for a couple of days but it got really old really fast.

    The trouble with this type of game is that they’ve been rehashed SO many times, since Spaceward Ho in the 80s, that there’s very little thrill left in making yet another cruiser.

    The thing that hurt SOASE most was the oversimplification of the 4X part of the game. As an RTS it was pretty lackluster but there really wasn’t much at all to the building and expansion part, somehow. It felt like it needed more.

    A lot more.

  21. Robin_G says:

    How strange. I just started playing it again for the first time in a long time. It really scratches a strange itch for me. I sometimes get the urge to just fortify every planet and research every useless upgrade possible and let everyone else fight it out. Then at some point I amass a fleet composed entirely out of capital ships and crawl across the galaxy in a slow but inevitable wave of destruction.

    I’d be interested in picking this up, I just hope these “titans” don’t ruin all my turtling.

  22. Premium User Badge

    Malibu Stacey says:

    I bought Sins when it was on sale a while back on Impulse for about £3 but have yet to boot it up even once. AI War, Sword of the Stars & Galactic Civilizations II (also purchased at the same time as Sins) have kept the Space 4X itch scratched quite well thus far.
    Going by the replies on this thread I may end up trying out Star Ruler or even King Arthur (both purchased during Christmas Steam sale) before Sins if I ever tire of/burn out on AI War.