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Have you played… Sins Of A Solar Empire?

Slow and beautiful space battles

Try as I might, I cannot view Sins Of A Solar Empire through anything other than the most rose-tinted glasses. Much of it is auditory. The sound of each button press, the wonderful space opera soundtrack, and the endlessly invigorating voice line, "Scouts have found a colonisable planet!"; they're all ingrained in the memories of a 13-year-old playing his very first real-time space 4X game, and loving every second of it.

I'd dabbled in other space strategy games before Sins (Galactic Civilizations, Alpha Centauri), but Sins Of A Solar Empire utterly gripped me from its opening cutscene. Sins would continue to be my space RTS game of choice for nearly a decade, until the arrival of Stellaris finally made me ask whether it was time to move on.

Nowadays, Sins Of A Solar Empire doesn't really do too much that its competitors don't also do. It has its galaxy of systems and webs of planets all connected by navigation lines that you can send ships down to scout new territories. It has ship factories that churn out fleets, colonisers to spread your people across myriad celestial bodies, tech trees to help expand your empire and military, alliances to be made, enemies to defeat, and (possibly my favourite mechanic) the ability to place bounties on the heads of your opponents to make them the prime target of pirate fleets. Everything is very solid, even by today's standards, though the cracks are definitely showing when it comes to the visuals.

And yet somehow, I still often have the desire to stop juggling empire needs and micromanaging fleets for a minute, disable the UI overlay, and just zoom in on one of the game's beautiful, ponderous fights. Or even just watch a squadron line up on the edge of a system and tear open a formation of portals through which they can shloop over to another far-off point in space. I love watching things happen in Sins. I love winning too, of course. But the atmosphere and immersion still holds some sway over me. I doubt that would have been the case if I'd only started playing Sins now. Again, it's those rose-tinted glasses at work. Just staring at the main menu makes me nostalgic. Needless to say, I'd play the hell out of a Sins Of A Solar Empire remake. But until then, the original game is still absolutely worthy of my time, and probably yours too.

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