Deep strategy without an End Turn button.
by GameDaily Staff on Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Getting into Sins for the first time is a little daunting, since it has all the complexities of a turn-based game happening in real-time. Players choose from three different factions that differ mainly in ship designs and the research trees. However, ship offerings across all three factions serve the same purpose and there's no custom design feature like that found in Galactic Civilization II. Intergalactic empiricism also has a ton of rules attached, like keeping in mind how many ships and structures the empire can support, only being able to build within a planet or asteroid's gravity well and ships being unable to jump across systems while inside the gravity well. Planet, asteroid fields and stars are connected through a network of jump pathways, which can be very intimidating early on, since it's difficult to get a sense of where to establish defensive borders, which planets are terminals and what areas are central hubs. Players must boldly go out and blindly explore. The network structure also makes it difficult to send reinforcements in from one part of the galaxy to another, since they need to jump from one system to another, making it hard to balance between establishing an economy and maintaining a fleet.
After players get over the initial hump of familiarizing themselves with the game's controls, Sins of a Solar Empire turns out to be a great, deep strategy game. There are a handful of different approaches to winning besides building up a gigantic fleet and mowing over everything that stands in the way. The economy, which also includes a dynamic black market, offers a great way to trade in excess resources for some quick cash. Players can also put bounties on opposing factions so that the indigenous space pirates will harass them instead of you. At the same time, the game also has one or two infuriating features, like the turtle-slow fleets that practically crawl out of a gravity wells to jump to another system, repeating the process until they reach their destination. Researching long-range jumping does little to alleviate the matter. There's also some difficulty in setting up defensive turrets for a system, since incoming ships usually don't jump within range of them, making it possible to bypass fortified buffer zones and head straight for key planets. We were also disappointed in the lack of espionage and sabotage options, which would provide significant benefits when setting up invasions.