Sins of a Solar Empire
Description official descriptions
Sins of a Solar Empire is a 4X-strategy game similar to the Civilization Series but instead of being turn-based, everything happens in real-time.
Set in space, three factions compete over the control of the star clusters. The first one is the Trader Emergency Coalition (TEC) is a more industrial and somewhat traditional faction. The Advents are instead one collective of believers also known as the Unity. They prefer to use PsiTech over everything else. The last group is the Vasari Empire. The Empire was nearly destroyed 10.000 years ago and now prepares his comeback with brutal force and highly developed military vessels.
All the factions are very different in look and feel; however, basic gameplay is always the same. You start with a lonely planet and start to expand your control. To do so you need to gather the resources such as metal or crystal from nearby asteroids. Build up logistic and tactical structures such as a Trade Port, which allows you to establish lucrative trade routes between worlds, or a Frigate Factory where you can construct frigates and cruisers. Labs allow you to research advanced technologies from your technology tree.
You also gain access to capital ships which are the heart of your fleet. They are not only strong and powerful, but also advance in experience and may harbor small fighters and/or bombers which help you in battle. At each experience level, the capital ship gains a talent point which can be invested in new abilities. One of the Advent capital ships for example, can disable any special abilities an enemy vessel has.
If you need money or other resources fast, you can also go and trade directly at the black market, which also gives you access to the fourth faction in this fight: the pirates. Pirates not only have a well defended base of operations in every star cluster, but they also launch raids on the players regularly. However, they only attack factions with the highest “bounty,” thus if a bounty is directed towards you, you can bribe the pirates to attack another faction by offering a higher bounty.
The game does not offer a single player campaign. The single player only consists of skirmish matches against the CPU with different maps (and sizes). The real heart of the game is instead the multiplayer mode which runs over the central server called Ironclad Online. There you can play against up to 10 other players and even save the matches in-between which is necessary because even a small round can take several hours to complete.
- Закат Солнечной Империи - Russian spelling
Credits (Windows version)
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Average score: 85% (based on 61 ratings)
Average score: 3.9 out of 5 (based on 9 ratings with 1 reviews)
Sins of a Solar Empire borrows elements from many other games, and the whole is more than the sum of its parts. It's more than a homage to the old Masters of Orion games (or Stardock's own Galactic Civilizations) - it's a reinvention of them. Instead of being turn-based and epic-paced like many 4X games, the game operates in real time with an adjustable speed (in the single-player game). This innovation gives the game a much better pacing than other strategy games, which often suffer from the constant clicking of the "End Turn" button.
The interface is quite well designed. The main screen is a 3-D view of the planets in the galaxy (or galaxies on larger maps). You can zoom all the way in to one planet to watch your constructions ships building or your fleet patrolling the space around the planet, or you can zoom all the way out to the strategic view, which lets you view the entire map at once. In this view, each planet has status readouts which give you a general idea how many friendly and enemy ships are near that planet. You can mouse over the fleet indicators to view a more detailed summary of the ships in the system and their status.
On its own, this interface would have been sufficient to play the game fairly well, but Iron Lore also added a handy collapsible sidebar which shows in detail (via icons) what buildings and ships are in each sector. You can easily highlight units from this interface and give orders to attack specific units or to use special powers.
Finally, you can zoom all the way into a planet and control the battle like you would in many other RTS games. Fortunately, 90% of the time this is completely unnecessary - you can play entire games without any micromanagement of your fleet and win just through strategic decisions.
The graphics aren't the best I've seen in the genre, but the level of detail in battles is amazing if you zoom all the way in. Capital ships majestically turn to bring their weapons into combat and unleash their strike craft. Smaller frigates zoom around and harass the enemy. Siege ships send rains of warheads down to destroy the inhabitants of planets with colorful explosions. The cinematic mode is great for watching the largest battles, which can feature several hundred ships on each side.
For the most part, the "slow RTS" pacing of the game makes the game easier to play and the battles more suspenseful. In other RTS games, battles tend to last no more than 10 seconds. Most of the major Sins battles average in the minutes, which frees you from the micromanaging clickfest into a more strategic contest.
The online matching service for multiplayer games is no Battle.net, but it is much more robust than many other services, and there are no weird firewall bugs or network settings needed. (Yes, I'm talking about you, THQ and the lame firewall bugs in the Dawn of War series!)
Finally, the lack of intrusive copy protection is wonderful. Whether you buy it off the shelf or from Stardock's online store, all you need to activate your game is a serial number. No CD-checks, no copy-protection checks at the company's web site every time you start the game (like the Steam service), no nothing. Just the game. It is refreshing for the developers to trust their customers instead of punishing them.
The game designers did not do a good job balancing the different factions in the game. As of the writing of this review (version 1.03 of Sins), the Advent is quite underpowered in the early game vs. TEC or the Vasari.
Some ship types are also much better than others. One multiplayer complaint is that you can basically mass huge fleets of the long-range missile ships and mow down everything in your path in the early game, ignoring the early planetary defense systems because your long-range ships can fire from out of their attack range.
The game is also prone to crashing, especially in multiplayer games, which is quite frustrating.
The AI is not all it's cracked up to be. Like in many other strategy games, you cannot practice vs. the AI to get more than a basic understanding of how to play humans in multiplayer. It's a totally different game.
Iron Lore is dedicated to fixing most of these issues (I look forward to the 1.04 patch), but the crashing and game-balance issues should really have been sorted out before the game was released.
The Space Pirates are a mixed bag in both single and multiplayer. They are too powerful in the beginning of the game and too inconsequential at the end of the game, which is why so many people turn them off. I'd like to see them developed into a more interesting part of the game.
In the single-player game, diplomacy is a mess. You can only curry favor by completing quests for other factions, which are often contradictory to your goals or arbitrarily difficult or impossible to complete. For example, sometimes the computer assigns you quests to kill 5 enemy tactical structures, and the enemy only has 4 tactical structures built. It would be nice if you could assign quests to your allies instead of just hoping they will help you.
The Bottom Line
Sins of a Solar Empire is an innovative combination of the best elements of traditional turn-based 4X games and a space RTS game. Its interface lets you control your empire in any detail level you want, from arranging each ship exactly as you want in a particular sector all the way out to moving hundreds of ships across the galaxy to destroy your enemies with one click in the strategic view. You can play single or multiplayer as one of three different factions (the TEC corporate empire, the warrior Vasari, or the religious Advent) with a wide variety of map and game options.
Windows · by Droog (460) · 2008
1001 Video Games
Sins of a Solar Empire appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.
Since patch v1.11, the new patches are only available through Stardock's Impulse system.
In September 2008 Stardock Systems, Inc. announced to have sold 500,000 units through traditional retail (400,000) and digital distribution methods (100,000), since the release in February 2008.
- 2008 – #9 PC Game of the Year
- 2011 – #20 Top PC Game of the 2000s
Information also contributed by Alaedrain
Related Sites +
Sins of a Solar Empire Post-Mortem
Feature about the game's production written by Blair Fraser and Brad Wardell.
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Contributors to this Entry
Game added by Sicarius.
Game added February 20, 2008. Last modified January 19, 2024.