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Sins of a Solar Empire

by Stardock
Windows XP / Vista
 Teen
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Game Information

  • Platform:   Windows XP / Vista
  • ESRB Rating: Teen Teen
  • Media: Video Game
  • Item Quantity: 1

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Product Description

From Amazon.ca

Ten millennia have passed since you and the few survivors of the once mighty Vasari Empire fled from an unknown threat that all but exterminated your kind. You now find yourself at the fringe of the galaxy in a sector occupied by a pathetically primitive species - one obsessed with trade and lacking any central organization or military technology. Calling themselves the Trader Emergency Coalition, they would have been ideal slaves in the glorious days of the past, but time is of the essence. Use your mastery of phase-space manipulation, gravity and nanotechnology to quickly eliminate any local resistance and acquire the necessary resources to fuel the next segment of your continuing exodus.

Features:

  • Take command of 1 of 3 space-faring races as you work to establish domination of the galaxy.
  • Use diplomacy, economic skill, cultural influence, and sheer military might to establish order.
  • Explore and conquer neighboring planets and distant solar systems in a massively scaled, fully 3D galaxy.
  • Transition between the roles of emperor and fleet commander; customize and improve powerful units.
  • Extensive diplomatic and economic strategies can exercise a variety of options.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU END YOUR TURN... Feb. 21 2008
By NeuroSplicer HALL OF FAME TOP 50 REVIEWER
Fun: 4.0 out of 5 stars   
This is an EXCELLENT game that takes the galaxy civilization games a clear step further. Written as a science-fiction novel, played as a seat-of-your-pants RTS game, this is a very intelligent hybrid that I greatly enjoyed.

In effect, SINS is a successful blend of the wonderful GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS and HOMEWORLD series, with a sprinkling of TOTAL WAR for good measure. This is NOT a turn-based civilization game, so expect a much faster pace. What this means is that while it maintains the characteristics of classic turn-based civilization games (exploration, expansion, exploitation and extermination), by relieving from the micromanagement tedium, it allows for an intense RealTime Strategy experience. Now, this probably may not appeal to turn-based purists, but I would advise an open mind: this is a good game.

This concept-blending is new, so expect a slow learning curve - it took me a number of ...false-starts to get the hang of it: after all, it plays like an RTS and (although simplified) it still has enough of turn-based features that need to be taken care of. The interface is simplified and informative at the same time, with info trees sliding out only when needed.

There are three different factions to choose from (financiers, technologists and psitecs) - yet, their differences focus mainly on research tree-branching and ship designs. What I did not like was that the ships of all three factions are effectively the same and their differences are only skin-deep. What I would have liked to find (and was disappointed to the point of withholding the 5th star for fun) was ship design and building! Remember how much fun was to design our own spaceships (from freighters to battleships) in GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS II? Well, no such luck here.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Very good space rts July 15 2009
Verified Purchase
Fun: 4.0 out of 5 stars   
The game is a bit slower paced then some rts games but the research has a decent variety. the number of planets and planet types could have been better and the resources could have been better thought out. Overall the game is enjoyable enough to play for days on end.
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Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  116 reviews
172 of 181 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars IN SPACE NO ONE CAN HEAR YOU END YOUR TURN... Feb. 6 2008
By NeuroSplicer - Published on Amazon.com
Fun: 4.0 out of 5 stars   
This is an EXCELLENT game that takes the galaxy civilization games a clear step further. Open-ended like a new science-fiction world and played as a seat-of-your-pants RTS game, this is a very intelligent hybrid that I greatly enjoyed.

In effect, SINS is a successful blend of the wonderful GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS and HOMEWORLD series, with a sprinkling of TOTAL WAR for good measure. This is NOT a turn-based civilization game, so expect a much faster pace. What this means is that while it maintains the characteristics of classic turn-based civilization games (exploration, expansion, exploitation and extermination), by relieving from the micromanagement tedium, it allows for an intense RealTime Strategy experience. Now, this probably may not appeal to turn-based purists, but I would advise an open mind: this is a good game.

This concept-blending is new, so expect a slow learning curve - it took me a number of ...false-starts to get the hang of it: after all, it plays like an RTS and (although simplified) it still has enough of turn-based features that need to be taken care of. The interface is simplified and informative at the same time, with info trees sliding out only when needed.

There are three different factions to choose from (financiers, technologists and psitecs) - yet, their differences focus mainly on research tree-branching and ship designs. What I did not like was that the ships of all three factions are effectively the same and their differences are only skin-deep. What I would have liked to find (and was disappointed to the point of withholding the 5th star for fun) was ship design and building! Remember how much fun was to design our own spaceships (from freighters to battleships) in GALACTIC CIVILIZATIONS II? Well, no such luck here. Let's hope they keep it in mind when the patch gets prepared.

Quick and constant exploration is not only encouraged by a necessity if one wants to survive - let alone win. Spaceships built within a solar system cannot travel beyond it, unless using "wormhole"-like singularities. This adds to realism but can stretch your finances to their breaking point - since only locally built ships can be used. Moreover, it makes really hard to locate the strategic points to either built defenses or focus an attack. The AI will constantly be bypassing your planning like the Maginot line - and leave you with such a French feeling...

The graphics (of all of backgrounds, planets and units) are very nicely done. I really liked the multiple afterburners tracing through space as a spaceship squadron was dopplering past my screen...And less-than-cutting-edge PC owners rejoice: even 4-5 years old systems can handle this game like a breeze!
What I truly appreciated was the realistic scale of things. Galaxies are much larger than star systems, which in turn are much larger than planets, which in turn are much larger than space stations...than spaceships and so on. How is this achieved? Excellent zooming!
SUPREME COMMANDER was the first game to introduce strategic zoom; however, SINS implements it much better and shows how it should had been done: from a galaxy to a single planet and to a single spaceship, zooming in or out firmly maintains the effectiveness of battle controls by grouping and simplifying the info-tiles as one zooms out. In SupCom, we had to chose between either discerning the units or moving ...info-tiles around the battlefield - not a bad first attempt, mind you. In SINS, one almost never looses perspective: ongoing battles, critical hotspots, or colony revolts are all easily identifiable in real-time.

On another note, SINS OF A SOLAR EMPIRE is a STARDOCK release which, yes, means their specialized installation utility. Nevertheless, this game hides no DRM or other intrusive security idiocy. Since trust and respect between a game publisher and its customers is a two-way street (and STARDOCK was willing to prove its friendship first), SINS deserves our support.

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED!
131 of 142 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Unique, beautiful, and flawed. Wait for the demo. Feb. 11 2008
By orakle - Published on Amazon.com
Fun: 4.0 out of 5 stars   
First, this game isn't exactly what you may have heard. Don't expect a real time version of Gal Civ 2, or a sort of Europa Universalis in space, this is an RTS game first. Game play consists of collecting resources, building ships, and hurling big piles of them at big piles of enemy ships. It has some characteristics of TBS space games, like warp lanes, planet hopping, and a broadly slower pace. It also has some light approximations of the research and infrastructure elements of TBS titles, but there's no empire-building here to speak of. There are also no victory conditions beyond "annihilate the other guy." The bulk of your time will definitely be spent on traditional RTS activities, so if you don't care for that genre, don't invest.

I have played this unique title for several weeks now, and come to some conclusions. It's an interesting game with a steep learning curve for an RTS. I finally have a good feel for the rather unique interface, and it works reasonably well. The empire tree is a novel tool to control building and to try to track structures and ships in your empire. It lacks a sense of relative position, however, and as such I still find myself missing a mini-map. The main problems, however, all stem from one simple component of the design: the real time battles take place in the same timeline as the real time strategy. That is, while your ships are fighting, time is ticking by all across your empire. Got 3 battles going on? You can only watch and manage one of them. The AI's ok at handling fights for you, but I dislike being reliant on that. For that matter, the graphics are gorgeous and the battles are genuinely exciting, it kind of sucks that at best I can only watch one at a time and frequently I'm pulled away from that to handle managerial issues. The empire tree mitigates this at times, but fails to do so at others. It's not the universal control panel that I believe the designers intended it to be.

It's probably also worth mentioning that there are only three factions, and they play quite similarly. The art and voice work for each is well done and quite distinct, but the vaunted unique tech trees are actually about 75% equivalent to one another, at a guess. The result is that there's little different between factions beyond the aesthetic.

The single player diplomatic system is peculiar. I'm not fond of it, and it bears a few words simply because I've never seen a system like this before. In a free for all, single player game your opponents will give you "missions" to curry their favor. These can be straight-up extortion, like "give us X amount of this resource" or they can be something like "kill X number of ships/structures belonging to this enemy." Performing the task in the time allotted will increase relations with the faction in question, failing to do so will lower relations. What's a bit strange is that even if you're actively engaged in hostilities with an opponent (like, say, bombarding and recolonizing their worlds) they'll still message you with these missions. Even when you've made friends with a given AI, in many cases performing these tasks are a practical impossibility. Imagine, for example, being in the midst of a massive war with one enemy when your "ally" demands that you destroy a large number of ships and structure from a different enemy in a short amount of time. This kind of thing causes you to lose allies when you need them most quite often and for no good reason. If it were a bit more context-sensitive (ie when you're fighting a joint war, the requests involve the destruction of the opponent you're both actively attacking), it'd work better. Since your other actions in the game beyond these "missions" affect your relations with the AI players not at all, as best I can tell, I find it's best to simply play with locked teams and avoid the system altogether. The result, though, is that the diplomacy element of a 4X game is either broken or missing, here, depending on how you play.

On the positive side, the random map generator is the single most powerful function of its type I've ever seen in a game, bar none. It's better than the map generation in the Civilization series, and that's really saying something. There appear to be hard caps on almost nothing, you can create a map of any size to virtually any specifications you can dream of (and that your PC can handle), it more than compensates to the lack of a story-based campaign IMO.

It's also worth noting that the game is very modable. With a sufficiently engaged, motivated fan community (which this game appears to have, at this early date) and with the level of support and additions I expect from a Stardock product, there's reason to think it'll only get better with time.

So for what it is, I'd say the game is pretty well done. It seems reasonably polished, very stable, the AI's adequate while you're learning, and the graphics and sounds are great. It scales well to low and high end systems. The capital ship level up system is neat (if borrowed completely from Warcraft 3) and the battles are quite cool looking. The problem, at heart, is that the large scale strategy (which already has a few flaws, as mentioned) and the tactical battles conflict with, rather than complement, one another. It's two games that don't quite fit together, and thus make one flawed game when all is said and done.

But don't take my word for it. The best way to find out about Sins is to play the demo, which the devs have said will be out within a month or so of Sins' release (that is, sometime in March '08). You are wise to wait and do this, as there's never been a game quite like this one and whether or not it works for you is going to depend a great deal on your personal tastes.
44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent game from a new developer March 27 2008
By Yu-Jin Chia - Published on Amazon.com
Fun: 4.0 out of 5 stars   
I must say, if Sins of a Solar Empire is typical of the products that Stardock is going to release, they just might be the next Blizzard Entertainment. Though most of the fundamentals in this game aren't exactly revolutionary, they are presented with an attention to detail and level of polish that make the game seem new and exciting. Sins is surprisingly easy to pick up and play, but is definitely a game that would take time to truly master.

The basic resource and base model is something that should be familiar to most RTS veterans- 3 resources (credits- from tax income, ore and crystals from harvesting) and facilities orbiting planets. There is a limit to how many can be built around a planet, and this varies depending on how well developed said planet is. You can also build defensive platforms and production facilities for your fleet. Research is also a pretty standard model, and is based on how many research labs you possess.

Where it starts getting interesting is the way you expand your empire, which you surely must in order to survive. Sins definitely favors aggressive players, as they will have more spaces for buildings and more credit/resource income as a result of higher population and more asteroids to harvest. At the start of a game, you usually have one home world connected to a few other systems. These may be colonizable, and may not- and in general, the better the planet the stronger the defense forces of the indigenous population. This means your pitiful starter fleet will likely not be able to conquer any prime worlds without taking losses, which can be bad if your opponents decide to attack you in the meantime. Additionally, some sorts of planets require research to colonize, and you need to colonize to build. This makes scouting of potential objectives and a general strategic plan essential.

To move between systems, you have to follow 'warp lines' connecting them. That is, you can't just go from your homeworld to any other system directly, but likely have to pass through several (and potentially hostile) worlds on the way. In order to make a jump, your ships have to travel to a fixed distance from a planet, power up their drives, and make the transit at high speed. This is a lengthy process, so you have to keep in mind that your forces might not get back in time if you need to mount a defense against a surprise attack. Thus you will always have a problem with balancing your defensive and offensive capabilities, and in safeguarding chokepoint planets that have warp lines to many systems. This is similar in concept to the map model in some other games, such as Conquest: Frontier Wars. It also allows battles to be taking place in multiple systems simultaneously, which can lead to some seriously frantic action.

There are three factions in the game- the TEC (essentially, humans), Advent (a bunch of weird female human psychics), and Vasari (the 'real' aliens). Though they have radically different looks and somewhat different weapons and technology, the corresponding ships of each empire are about equal in strength. Thus it's more an aesthetic choice and matter of personal preference. Ships are broken down into frigates and cruisers, and capital ships. The latter are your 'hero' units that gain experience and have powerful weapons and special abilities. Your first is free, and it's critical that you keep them alive and kicking. The other vessel types are the grunts of the fleet, and are substantially cheaper and more expendable. The vessel types, in all three classes, have a wide array of roles ranging from colonization to direct battle to fighter/bomber carrying mother ships. You can't afford to specialize in all technologies and upgrades, so it's best you figure out what you like to use and stick to that. There is no really clearcut paper-rock-scissors setup like in most RTS games, so as long as you invest in at least two roles (e.g. carriers and main battle units) you will likely be fine.

Research and expansion are critical if you plan to win against computer or human opponents, who will be your serious adversaries in any campaign. There's also pirates, who can be irritating, and local forces- but these are generally far less aggressive than other players. You can also help your empire along by trading goods on the black market and even by bribing pirates to attack your enemies. There's also a simple diplomacy interface where you can form alliances and break them at will (if you aren't a fan of backstabbing, you can also enforce permanent alliances before a game starts).

Admittedly, combat is a bit simplistic. You pretty much send ships at others, and even if you don't they auto-engage if in the same system. It's all done on a 2-D field even though the game is fully 3-D, so there's no 'depth' to the battlefield a la Homeworld. You can maneuver ships and order individual ones to retreat, and can manually manage special abilities, but it generally works to just leave them on automatic. However, the game graphics and interface are so attractive and slick that you tend to not notice. Effects and detail make it fun to watch even though you're not doing a whole lot, and the sound design is also excellent.

The game supports full online play, but also includes a pretty challenging AI for skirmish mode. I have found the 'easy' setting to be hilariously weak and the normal setting to probably be a bit too much of a step up, however. Additionally, computer opponents seem to do really weird things on occasion, such as building tons of siege frigates or forming a grand alliance to wipe you out (if there's more than one). Nothing that can't be patched, but still weird. Online is probably where you will have the most fun, since real people are generally a lot more inventive than the AI- and Sins gives you a lot of ways to use your cunning to give your opponents a hard time.

Despite its complexity the game is pretty easy to pick up and play as a novice. There is a very brief tutorial that teaches you the control and user interface basics, and then the best way to learn is to just start a game vs. one easy computer. After you beat them down (or not) you will likely know enough to play seriously.

The one big letdown in Sins is the lack of a single player campaign. It is such a glaring omission that it's hard to forgive, even with the superb gameplay and production values. This universe just begs to be explored in terms of a developed storyline, and the opening cinematic leaves you salivating over how much fun that would be... but there isn't one. Maybe in version 2.0? Please? I'd seriously beg for one if it helps.

The bottom line is that Sins of a Solar Empire is a finely polished, extremely fun strategy game. It is fast-paced, has great strategic depth, and looks amazing. If you've ever played and appreciated any RTS- not even necessarily ones set in space- you will most likely love this game.
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Maybe I'm missing something March 12 2008
By Bruce F. Webster - Published on Amazon.com
Fun: 3.0 out of 5 stars   
First off, my bona fides: I've been playing computer games for over 30 years; heck, I was designing computer games nearly 30 years ago. I don't even want to think about how many hundreds (if not thousands) of hours I've spent playing various games (mostly 4X and RTS) over the years. You can check out some of my other game reviews here on Amazon (via the link above) to get a sense of my preferences and biases.

I gave SINS four (4) stars overall because it is way above average for the clean, innovative user interface and general quality of the software. It's slick, professional, and absolutely solid. The user interface takes a bit to learn, but once you get the hang of it, it helps you get things done very quickly. And the ability to zoom smoothly from very close to very far out make operating at different scales very easy.

On the other hand, I have a hard time giving the game more than three stars for fun because every game I've played so far (and I've played a lot) ultimately degenerates into shuffling fleets from system to system as your remaining opponent(s) attack. And since ship movement is so slow (yes, even on the 'quick' setting), I find myself spending a lot of time just staring at the screen, watching my fleets inch their way to the current system(s) under attack. Resources (credits, metal, crystal) and 'slots' (logistical and tactical) tend to be so constrained that it's very hard to set up a system that can really defend itself without a decent fleet on hand.

There are no real politics beyond very simple agreements (cease fire, peace treaty, trade agreement, share intelligence). Other (AI) factions make demands of you -- initially for resources, but then for attacks on other factions. You are under a time limit and you have no option to decline gracefully; you either fulfill the demand (and receive a reward comprising some mixture of good will, credits, metal, and/or crystal), or you fail to do so, and you lose goodwill with the faction. Note that you cannot turn around and make those same demands on the AI factions -- an asymmetric disparity that is (IMHO) a serious flaw.

A typical Sins game starts out interestingly enough, but tends to become tedious towards the endgame. Because both movement and construction are so slow, progress in the latter portion of the game tends to be slow as well:

-- Faction A attacks Planet X occupied by Faction B
-- Faction B starts bringing its fleets from elsewhere to Planet X
-- Faction A manages (or not) to wipe out the population on Planet X
-- Faction B manages to bring enough ships to bear to force Faction A to retreat
-- Faction A starts the slow process of building new ships to replace those lost in the attack and then moving them (slowly) to where its fleets are
-- Faction B starts the slow process of recolonizing Planet X (if necesary), after which it can start the slow process of rebuilding the logistical and tactical infrastructure of Planet X, as well as the slow process of building new ships to replace those lost during the battle for Planet X

Or, alternately, Faction B retreats from Planet X, in which case it is Faction A that has the slow process of recolonizing and rebuilding Planet X.

Fleet tactics during battles mostly consist of aiming all your ships at one of your opponent's ships for the 30-60 seconds it takes to destroy it, then repeating that until your opponents flees or is destroyed, or you flee or are destroyed. The variety of technologies that the different capital ships can have are nice, but if you have two or more battles going on simultaneously, it's pretty difficult to do any actual tactics or maneuvering for more than just one battle.

Now imagine that you're doing this simultaneously against 2, 3, or 4 AI factions. It's easy for them to wear you down, but hard for you to make real progress against one of them.

Did I mention the pirates? If you have pirates in the game (some games exclude them), they'll show up out of nowhere and attack your systems also. You can bribe them to go attack other factions.

In the end, it's that combination of simultaneous attacks, slow production, slow movement, and slow progress that pretty much makes Sins very tedious in the endgame. Based on the glowing reviews I've seen here and elsewhere, there must be people who really enjoy that sort of thing and/or have some magic strategies that make all this work.

In sum: great technology, great UI, great initial gameplay, and very tedious endgame. YMMV. ..bruce..
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Version 1.03 has significant changes March 18 2008
By Mark Shanks - Published on Amazon.com
Fun: 4.0 out of 5 stars   
Don't like the space pirates? Thank goodness the latest release (downloadable from Stardock) has a series of "game options", including one to make them "inactive". In the (admittedly beginner-level) game I'm playing, they're still there on their maniacally-armed planet, but so far I haven't had them putting bounties on my head.

I leave it to the more experienced gamers to fathom how things work. Me - I'm puzzled that, as quickly as I can get a scout ship to start exploring my little corner of the solar system, the "other guys" all seem to have large fleets of frigates and cruisers, even battle cruisers (!), already assembled. And those damned PIRATES! One look at their "home world", and I'm simply ready to abandon all hope. Dozens of defensive platforms, and scores of ships! Does the game START with everyone BUT me ready for massive combat? (And yes, this is with "Easy" mode selected.)

As another reviewer has pointed out, things CAN get a bit tedious. I had a 2.5-hour space battle - I went through three capitol ships and countless frigates and cruisers, but somehow the "other guys" (playing in single-player mode) seemed able to match my output ship-for-ship, PLUS a few extra. Had I left it to AI strategy, it would have been a massacre. But after so long a battle, I simply wasn't enjoying it and bailed.

The system-building option also strikes me as a little unusual. I suppose you could use it to give yourself either a huge advantage or to handicap a game, but in normal play, I prefer the random assignments of resources. Your ability to acquire knowledge and to build ships depends on the availability of vital resources: metal and crystal. If you're fortunate enough to start with or conquer a planet with multiple crystal asteroids, you have a great head start over the poor slob with one or none.

Dedicated gamers will find scope enough to occupy them for weeks, probably months. Casual gamers: don't expect anything to get settled in just a couple of hours. The *smallest* game, a single-system scenario, takes about 8-10 hours of play. Unlike other games I've played, there's no "just putzing around and exploring" - this is definitely a hostile system, with most planets armed to the teeth and itching for a fight. (Diplomacy? Why does someone want to have me perform some oddball "mission" at the same time they're bombarding the bejeezus out of my home planet?)

All that said - yes, I'm having a good time. Very fluid graphics, lots of "good stuff" to work through, and great value for your gaming dollar. If you're on the fence, I hope a demo comes out soon, because it really is a fun and involving game.
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