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 Home -> Reviews -> Sins of a Solar Empire
Sins of a Solar Empire By: John "Award" Del Percio
April 3, 2008
Developer :Ironclad
Publisher :Stardock
Release Date :January 2008
Demo Available : Yes - Download
Table of Contents

· Introduction
· Closer Look
· Facts
· Final

Beyond The Veil

One of the games greatest strengths can, in some eyes, also be a great weakness. The game is designed to be playable by a as large an audience as possible, thus while it sports some great graphics, and does utilize some high-end video hardware if present, it doesn't support all the latest in splashy overblown graphics. Don't expect Crysis, or even Doom3. Don't quite expect Homeworld (though the textures are certainly higher resolution than those of Homeworld.) To me, I don't see this as a big minus. It seems a growing number of game companies spend so much time making the graphics spectacular for demos they forget to work on the gameplay. Or even to make the game fun. If you're the kind of gamer that isn't happy with a game unless it can fry bacon on your GPU, you may be a little disappointed here. Then again, why not use all that graphics power to crank up the resolution and stick on as big a screen as you can find? You can heat a good sized room with just your GPU that way, too.

Also in the graphics department, you may find some of the models to be a bit underwhelming. It's not that they're unattractive, or unrefined, it's just that nothing stands out about them, and sometimes it can be difficult to make out the difference between different ships. They're all sort of stock templates for starships, a little originality here could have made a memorable universe. The lack of distinction can also pose problems when trying to determine which objects to target first when involved in a chaotic planetary assault.

Another area where many will be dismayed with the game is the incredibly steep learning curve. You will be overrun, countless times as you try to wade through the game in the beginning. It took me a good 10 tries and a good 14 hours or so to finally get a handle on how to proceed. It's not that it has an AI that's too difficult or that you're stacked against odds too high. It just takes a while to understand the subtleties of the strategies required to win. The AI is pretty strong, but once you understand how to play the game well it drastically improves your chances of winning.

The biggest disappointment in the game, though, comes not from the graphics, or even the learning curve, is the lack of a formal campaign. There is no campaign. There is no story. The intro movie is about all the story you're going to get from the game. It's not all lost, of course, there are a series of extremely massive stand-alone scenarios to play. The larger ones can pick up a bit of story via "quests" handed out by AI players as a part of the diplomacy process. Still, it seems a shame to not have a full campaign with story for all the great setup that was done for the back-story on the races. If you prefer endless gameplay to a detailed story, though, you can rest easily knowing the game comes with both a built-in scenario editor, and a random generator. Coupled with what's sure to be a large online community, I doubt the possibilities of play will be at all scarce.

Speaking of the online community, the gameplay style of Sins is perfectly adapted for online gameplay, assuming you have enough time and the ability to coordinate with the other players. In the true spirit of a turn based 4x game, online games can take between hours and weeks. Fortunately, the game allows you to save online games and resume them later. This type of gameplay will be an instant turn-off to a large majority of online gamers, but a definite plus to the more hardcore strategy fans.

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