Real Time Strategy seems to be a strange genre, we have Company of Heroes 2 just being released, and too many indie titles to shake a stick at. But Sins of a Solar Empire is still one of the greats that seems to get over looked. I could never understand why, however there was the small part that StarDock (yes, the company who made all those themes for Windows XP) owned and released it on their own Digital Distribution service, when most people were finally accepting Steam for what it is. But when they slowly started getting released on Steam it was great to see. Well, apart from the fact you still need a StarDock account to access the game.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion, is the last in the series of large scale space strategy games. You start off on a planet, and you slowly spread out through the galaxy. For those who read my Star Drive review, you’re going to notice a lot of similar themes in this review, apart from space bears, which I’m sorry, Sins is lacking in.
So you have peace in the galaxy, everyone happy, then aliens that haven’t been around for a while start to attack you. Then another group comes to attack you both. THEN each of those races split up into two factions to help or kill each other. Needless to say, Sins does not stand on its story telling abilities, but having no Story mode at all it can be forgiven. You have skirmish and multi player and that’s it, of course saying that, one match can easily go on for days at a time. For your skirmishes you can choose between small, medium and large maps, the largest having over 120 different planets, which can take at least a month to complete, the smallest having 4 maps, of course this can be finished within the hour. If you have enough people willing to complete a whole match, there is no other RTS that allows 10 player matches, 5v5. There is no other game I have played that comes close to the scale and cooperation needed to successfully win a match in this mode. Of course nothing comes close to the dedication needed to actually face the TIME needed to finish it either.
Rebellion comes with many changes to the series, the factions are a new addition, but of the three races the factions are the same, are you a loyalist and with your race, or a rebel and help the other races. We also have a new class of warship, the Titan, if you need some help in a desperate fight, you will send in one of these to mop it up, when used alongside the new Corvette class as well, very fast attack ships. You also have the usual nice things such as new graphics, keeping it looking nice, even when zooming into individual ships.
One big addition is Tutorials, now I’m not sure if the original game did or did not have tutorials, but I don’t know, this one feels like a strange addition to the Key Features list, surely a tutorial in a strategy game as complicated as Sins should be mandatory. That being said the tutorial is very in-depth and allows you to practise most of the games core mechanics before jumping into the fray.
Each of the different races has a very different play style, and then again they are split between the Loyalist and Rebels. Each one has a complete roster of unique ships to use, and most daunting is the tech trees. 6 different tree’s go down, and each also has three separate routes to follow. Those who like to play the game research style will jump to the end of the tree pretty fast, upgrading your units, or accessing new buildings and ships later on. There are also diplomacy aspects to this game.
Now alliances with AI can be very fickle, anyone who has ever played a Total War game or Civilization knows how quickly your former comrade in arms will turn on you for a hurtful sum of gold coins. It seems that the AI here has been tweaked with some form of loyalty, my alliances very rarely broke down, well unless I directed an attack at one, of course this is only good in a free for all.
During play you have one last trick up your sleeve – bounties. You can have access to a bounty board where you can place your gold to choose which of your fellow opponents you want hassled by pirates, the player with the highest bounty will periodically be attacked by a group of pirates, randomly attacking one of your planets and for early game can be a massive hindrance, as they come with some serious fire power. Late game they are less of a problem, or my personal favourite is place mines everywhere. It’s a good plan if you’re in FFA to team up with a player to place the bounty on a particularly annoying one.
Sins of a Solar Empire is the best example of a space RTS, and ambitious too. It hits the nail on the head, managing massive multiplayer LAN and Online, smooth gameplay that has been improved in this sequel. With the closest game to this being StarDrive, if you’re a fan of the space genre and RTS, you have to try this game.
This game hits a lot of the right marks for a RTS, and doesn’t really drop the ball in anyone area in particular.
Disclaimer:All scores given within our reviews are based on the artist’s personal opinion; this should in no way impede your decision to purchase the game.