Sins of a Solar Empire
is the first cross between real-time strategy game and empire-builder that is thoroughly successful, a carnal combination that is simply irresistible. To combine the cool, tactile precision and adrenaline rush of the RTS with the warm, loving embrace of an empire-building game is as ruinous for me as a non-stop I.V. drip of heroin-laced caffeine
. Indeed, this game is killing me!
Thankfully, the game is killing me with pure, unadulterated delight. Sins of a Solar Empire
is incredibly well-designed. Three different playable factions, each with a different emphasis on units and a different play style, make the game well-balanced. The TEC (Trader Emergency Coalition) is essentially your classic, all-around race in an RTS; their ships are both strong and versatile. The Advent, a group of psychic desert nuts scavenging for sandworms and spice, have primarily quick-moving vessels that pack a fair bit of close- to mid-range punch, but don’t stand up to concentrated fire too well. And the Vasari, a lone alien group, play the role of the heavy hitters, with tough and powerful, though relatively few, ships.
It’s not a unique formula by any means, but it pulls off the classic Starcraft balance with such finesse that you won’t notice until some dick like me points it out. The scale of objects in the universe is also perfect, and the empire-building backbone is clean, smooth, and enjoyable. Sins
delivers the same intensity as other stellar empire-building games, but with only a modicum of the same learning curve.
The biggest strength of Sins
is how much it helps you play. There are tools for automating many of the systems; You can set your ships to use their special abilities on their own accord at appropriate moments, minimizing the need to micromanage every battle. Intelligent queuing makes it easy to arrange a list of priorities in a system.