Sins of a Solar Empire [PC]
March 24, 2009
Can’t say i’m not a sci-fi fan-boy, i mean i owned a Star Trek uniform when i was a kid, and have been to Stargate and similar sci-fi Convention (oh Amanda Tapping, you’re so fine). So when my brother imported a new game I was quite excited. No it’s not EVE-Online, but what I’d say is the next best cost-efficient thing:
Sins of a Solar Empire (SoSE) is the child of Canadian developer Ironclad Games, and features a real-time strategy that spans across the galaxy. With a beautifully navigated huge 3d environments and highly detailed planets, asteroids, ships and stations SoSE is very nice on the eyes. However from the word go the controls can be a little touchy and confusing. Scrolling with the mouse wheel will zoom you in from seeing solar systems, into seeing the rust on the smallest scout ship however it will zoom wherever your mouse is, making it awkward when intense battles rage. Once you get around that though the zoom function becomes invaluable as you can easily move from planet to planet to build bases, ships and strongholds in orbit and develop your population on the planet itself exploring to see what secrets you may find to strengthen your cause. It reminds me a lot of Supreme Commander, granted i played it maybe once then it went back up on the shelf but that’s beside the point.
There are three classes, as seems to be the general gist for Real Time Strategies, i.e. StarCraft, Command & Conquer, Rise of Nations: Rise of Legends etc, and each have their pros and cons and their own customized units and structures and unlocks.
If you’ve played an Real Time Strategy before then you know the standard setup: build buildings, build units, gather resources, research, build better units, defend a bit, then smite thy enemies. Same strategy could be applied here, however you’re limited by how much you can construct in orbit around one planet, therefore you have to go explore other planets, and you don’t know anything about them, whether their gas giants/asteroids/volcanic wastelands or whether they’re occupied by pirates or even the enemy. No kidding, there’s pirates, space pirates, it’d be only be cooler if their ships were actual sailing ships flying through space.
The grouping system feels quite unique and surprisingly efficient in SoSE. There’s a list on the left where every unit and building and planet could potentially be stored and shown for quick access, not to mention fleets and standard (Ctrl + #) groups. You can choose what you have up there (Pin/Unpin like you find in some standard apps), but by default all your units and buildings are put up there. Then, get this, they’re automatically sort into Planets. Whatever planet your unit is orbiting, it gets sub-grouped into that planet in the list, and you can expand or contract the groups like you do if you clicked “Explore” on a Windows Folder.
To travel between planets your ships “Phase Jump” between them. Pretty much a mix between Warp Drive & a Flux Capacitor, very pretty but it’s not instantaneous.
There are three classes of ships; Frigates, Cruisers, and Capital ships. Some can carry smaller Fighter or Bomber craft on them for an even more intense battle. Coordinating several Frigates and Cruisers into a fleet lead by a Capital ship can provide a strong offensive force for when you ambush your enemy. And with added gameplay features you can set your fleet to stick close to its leader, and even wait for all ships in the fleet to take up formation before entering into a Phase Jump providing the perfect ambush.
Besides Singleplayer it features many Multiplayer possibilities both through LAN and internet, there’s also a Map Designer to boot. With a price-tag starting from $20 mattering where you get it from, Sins of a Solar Empire is definitely a game worth investing in if you’re a fan of pushing your Real Time Strategy Experience just a bit further.