by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Games in the 4X genre (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit and eXterminate) aren’t exactly growing on trees these days. The ones that -do- come out however generally offer a decent gameplay experience. Real-time 4X games are a little more numerous than turn-based ones, especially those set against a ‘space’ backdrop. Sins of a Solar Empire is one of the real-time variety and, as the title suggests, set in space. Very little hype surrounded the game prior to release but its sales numbers show that gamers have been craving for some fresh 4X blood to spill. If you have been craving too, then read on and find out why you should sink your teeth into this game yourself.
Upon starting Sins of a Solar Empire you are treated to a movie that explains the background of the current conflict between the three races that inhabit the galaxy. In the distant future, Humans have colonized many star systems and have lived peacefully for centuries. Their existence is now being threatened by the arrival of the two other factions who will stop at nothing to bring the human colonies to their knees. The first of the two factions is actually human in nature. They are descendants of a group of humans that disappeared long ago and now return bringing alien knowledge and -worse- ideas along with them. In their minds, what is left of the human race are little more than barbarians that need to be eradicated.
There is no love lost between them and the second of the two invaders. The Vasari are on the run and looking for a new place to settle. The fact that this space is already occupied is merely a formality.
The storyline is hardly groundbreaking stuff and this intro movie is all that you will see of it. Developer Ironclad has left the rest of the storyline to your imagination. There is no campaign mode and the scenarios provide no additional plotlines. If you are hoping for a deep, evolving plot, you won’t find it here, but that doesn’t make it a bad game.
Navigating space, and the game
Navigating through the extensive yet intuitive menu to start your game is both pleasurable and easy. Everything is well laid out; a lot of thought has been put into presentation. This is something that you will notice in just about every other aspect of the game as well. Sins of a Solar Empire is a highly polished game that looks and plays great and is stable to boot. The graphics are nice, crisp and colorful, if not lush.
As with any good 4X game, you start small with a single planet. Each planet has an area it influences in which structures can be placed and battles are fought. Asteroids that are inside this area can be mined for resources once you have built a mining station on it. Resource gathering has been kept simple. This is a blessing when you know that there are times that you will be so busy attacking or defending, that worrying about resources is the last thing on your mind.
Navigating between the planets that you own can be done quickly by clicking on their icon on the left-hand side of the screen. Behind the planet icon, a number of dots show all sorts of information such as the amount of structures, defenders, attackers and – by color coding the dots – which factions are in the battle when one is taking place. On large maps -spanning more than one star system- you may end up feeling a bit out of control. The list of owned planets can become incredibly long and scrolling up and down can turn out to be a chore when it does.
You will be doing a lot of ‘mouse-wheeling’; zooming in and out switching between planets and ships to control. The zooming is very smooth and remains so throughout the game, no matter how large the map and how much is going on at the various planets that it contains. Zooming in on a particular planet or place is very easy: the game will zoom towards the place that your mouse pointer is indicating.
No Pros and Cons at this time