Retro Game, Next Gen Feel
Sins can be considered something of a niche game, there's no question about that. A broad niche, true, but niche all the same. It's a game for the true PC gamers. Those who don't shy from complexity, large tech trees, and strategies that may take months to perfect. Those who think a proper multiplayer game is something best played if you resume the same session for weeks on end. Those who think if there's no key combinations, there's no point using the keyboard. But then, as sales are showing, perhaps there's more old-school gamers in the PC world than the industry likes to admit?
Keep in mind that for games as large and complex as Sins, it would be impossible to cover it in complete detail within the scope of a critical review. There are systems within the game that are not covered here. Still, I've provided a fairly thorough tour of the major concepts of the game.
For those that remember when turn based strategies (or so-called "4x" games) ruled the roost, or for the newcomers who have latched onto modern classics such as Civilizations IV or Galactic Civilizations, Sins will certainly have heavy appeal for you. For the real time strategy gamers of the more entailed games of the genre such as Age of Empires, now may be the time to jump into the next layer of complexity. There's something here for everyone in the strategy world. The game has a few minor shortcomings, but overall it's one of the most solid hybrid genre implementations I've seen. It won't provide much character or immersion into another world, but when it comes to good old addictive gameplay, Sins delivers in a big way.
- Sound - Gameplay - Depth
- Multiplayer || Reviewed
by John Del Percio|
For all the complaining about graphics, they adequately do what they need to do and still present a pleasant looking universe. They won't push graphics cards to the extreme, but they'll get the game running on lots of computers and still look pretty good for those of use with the horsepower to push it up a bit further. Most of the deduction comes from the sometimes confusingly generic models which affects the unique feeling when looking at ships, and can even affect your targeting choices. Overall, pretty decent, though.
I have a few gripes on the sound. While most of the alien voiceovers turned out well, some of the TEC voices are simply bland. Most weapon sound effects sound great, but the selection sound for the gauss turret is a recycled sound I know I've definitely heard before. It's almost as frustrating as the doors from Quake being used in a few movies a year. I realize most sound effects are purchased in bulk in large CD libraries by companies that make them available to game developers, film makers, and the like, but when an instantly recognizable sound comes by, please pass by it next time. I also had some issues with "static" in the sound, however, I won't pin that on the game since Creative Labs' drivers don't always play well with Vista x64.
For all the visual and technological mediocrities of Sins, its primary focus is on gameplay, and that's where it shines. Intense, meaningful, and highly strategic gameplay defines the game and gives way to the legendary "just one more turn" magic that marks a great turn-based 4x game. But since Sins is real-time, it makes it that much more difficult to define where a turn begins and ends. One more turn, in this case, tends to imply conquering another planet or two. A task that can go on for hours. It's a game that will cost you some sleep, regardless of good intentions, which is always the mark of a well designed game. Sometimes graphics and the like don't matter as much as a game simply being fun to play.
There are two ways of looking at the depth of the game. From a realtime perspective the game has extreme depth, beyond anything in the genre. From the turn-based perspective, significant amounts of micromanagement, economy management, and population management has been removed to accommodate the realtime interface. The formula works to great success, though a few points for depth will have to be deducted here since the game does claim to be a 4x, and up against the dominant titles such as Civilizations, it is missing some of the depth associated with the genre. The lack of a proper story also contributes to the reduction of depth.
This is the stuff multiplayer is made of. Sins lends itself very well to the multiplayer world, though the extreme length of most multiplayer games will be a definite turn-off to many gamers, so a few points are removed for that. This is, however, entirely up to one's perspective; the long multiplayer games may be exactly what you're looking for.
For those who may have noticed the overall percentage isn't a proper average of the individual scores, that is correct. The overall doesn't always represent a pure mean of individual scores, since so much more goes into a game than just a handful of criteria. In this case, the game blends all its parts into a very well polished whole, and provides a good deal of fun owing to it's great overall score. This one will be in my personal "most frequently played" list for quite a while.