Sins of a Solar Empire: Sins of the Sun Empire - game review

Date: 2008-03-12 06:41:00
The review was based on the PC version.

I suspect that for some of our honorable readers the name Ironclad Games will be foreign. Certainly more people know the Barking Dog Studios company, from which the creators of the first come from. To those who do not know any of the companies mentioned, let them create a very good continuation of the Homeworld game called Homeworld: Cataclysm . Homeworld made a huge sensation on the market in 1999. A year later its continuation came out, and another three years later the second part. They all enjoyed very good reviews among reviewers and players' respect. What influenced this? Scenario, playability and audiovisual setting.

Sometimes, although it happens extremely rarely, in the flood of widely advertised productions an unbelievable product is created - interesting and extremely engaging. This is how I would like to introduce you to Sins of a Solar Empire - the debut work of Ironclad Games . The game combines the features of a 4X strategy ( eXplore , eXpand , eXploit , eXterminate , i.e. exploration, development, operation and extermination) and a classic RTS.

At first, I had little concern that the game did not have a typical single player campaign, but was limited to choosing "loose" scenarios and the possibility of creating my own map. In the case of the latter option, we can create a system consisting of hundreds of planets on which we can place up to ten opponents. The game is very extensive, so at the beginning you need some time to figure out how to effectively run your empire. However, as soon as the initial chaos weakens, it is impossible to tear yourself away from the computer. Already after learning the rules of the game and starting the game on a randomly selected map, all thoughts about the campaign went into oblivion. Very high playability can be felt both in single-player mode - fighting against a computer opponent, and in multiplayer, for which the game was mainly designed.

The game was set in the distant future, and its plot is limited to the introductory intro , in which we learn the history of three factions fighting among themselves: the Trader Emergency Coalition - an alliance of different worlds belonging to people, Advent - a faction of people who in the past they were banished and are staunch supporters of alien philosophy and Vasari - a mysterious alien race. The story, however, is not important here.

As in many strategies, we start modestly - in this case it will be control over one planet. On it, we must ensure the acquisition of goods such as metal, crystals and, of course, accumulate money. We get cash from colonists subordinate to us or from established shopping stations. We collect raw materials from constructed mining stations, but their quantity is limited, which means that each planet has only a few places where we can establish them, so in order to develop the mining branch, we must start the expansion process. To this end, we search for planets and other places that we can colonize.

The authors have provided us with several types of structures that we can colonize. The terran and desert planets and asteroids can be easily colonized, except that the latter will not develop a large population. The situation is different in the case of the ice and volcano planets, where we first need to invent the appropriate technology that will allow us to inhabit them. Each of the above-mentioned structures has different characteristic features, such as a larger amount of a given raw material, which diversifies the planning process.

The technology tree is very important and at the same time extensive. You can see that the manufacturer has contributed to this issue. Attention is drawn to the mass of improvements and designs that we can invent. From colony and mining capabilities to military and construction. Of course, as it happens in "tree" structures, we must first have the right amount of raw materials and invented previous technologies to be able to develop the more advanced one.

One of the main activities is the production of units. Each available ship has several or a whole series of its features. The most interesting issue, however, is the possibility of gaining experience points by the largest of the capital ships. We will be able to assign a skill point to a selected (unique to each) feature for machines that have advanced to the next level. We can create squadrons, consisting of hundreds of different smaller ships and several of the largest ones, which at a higher level can be invaluable.

The game offers a very interesting way of conducting diplomacy - it is certainly a feature that distinguishes it from the competition. We have a typical non-aggression pact, as well as the possibility of concluding various systems, before which we need to prove our value to a given faction - this is done by assigning us a task, e.g. to destroy enemy structures. Of course, we can also try to win someone's favor by sending him the selected raw material as a gift.

In addition to the diplomacy system, there is also what is called a criminal underground. In addition to the quick possibility of selling or buying some goods, there is also a system for letting pirates onto other players. Pirates are the third player here that performs periodic attacks. Everything works like online auctions. Every once in a while there is a bid, where everyone offers a certain amount of cash, which allows them to indicate the opponent to whom we want to send pirates. The one with the highest stake will be attacked. This is a great way to wage war, using a kind of ... representative.

It should be noted that Sins of a Solar Empire is not an easy game. The situation can change dramatically in a few minutes, which is why often the coordinated and carefully planned actions can prevail. With a multitude of events taking place on the screen, a very clear interface plays a key role. On the side of the screen is a diagram of each of our planets, so we can dispose of each of our planets and units in an efficient and effective way. For this reason, it will be very easy to order nearby units to go to the planet on which the battle is currently taking place - without the need to slide the screen laboriously.

Additionally, during the game we can perform various tasks, e.g. destroying the pirate base. We get a reward for completing each special task. The game is a real time waster, especially on maps where we have hundreds of different planets. The exception is when the opponent, without any illusions to victory, gives up. It is important that you can save the game in both single and multi-player mode.

Graphically, the game looks very good. This is not a breakthrough product in this respect, although ships and space look beautiful - even at maximum zoom. All thanks to the use of the original Iron Engine, which works very well. It offers a smooth transition from the farthest view - the solar system, to the nearest - enabling the view of any of the planets or units. Music and sound effects are no longer as distinctive, although they provide a decent background.

I hope that Sins of a Solar Empire will appear on the Polish market, because it would be a great loss if native players would miss such a game. What can I say, the game is really great! Let those who have not played regret it. Anyone who does not shun strategy will undoubtedly be pleased. I just hope that the gentlemen from Ironclad Games will not rest on their laurels and will get on with the production of the second part or even an add-on.

Adrian "SaintAdrian" Stolarczyk