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Sins of a Solar Empire


Covak
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http://www.sinsofasolarempire.com/

 

I'm pretty excited for this game. Strategy games of this scale are usually turn-based (or split between turn-based strategy and real-time battles), but this is all real-time and it looks and sounds pretty sweet to me. It's not a click-fest RTS, and it sounds like they have lots of great interface features and unit AI to keep micromanagement to a minimum :tu

 

It sports multiplayer save games which has me and some friends really excited. We're looking forward to trying a massive game against AIs, played a few hours at time (we can't all get together for online gaming too often). May try the same with some coworkers during lunches.

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"I guess it's time to go online and learn how to *really* play," I thought. So I setup a small, fast 1v1 and someone joined quick and off we went. 45 minutes in, which is still a little early in Sins, the guy says "I gotta go, thanks for the game." Son of a bitch! The post-game stats confirmed my suspicion that I was about to crush him, too. Would have been fun for my first game :(

 

If the AI in GalCiv2 is as fantastic as everyone says maybe I should give it a try, too. I've had my way with the Sins AI and I don't think I'll be trying online play again until I have more free time (enough that a dropper won't piss me off).

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So this is reminiscent of games like GalCiv and MOO, but it's real-time?

 

I'd love to hear more of your thoughts.

 

It's much more RTS than Civ. The two big things it takes from 4X games are the slow pace (it's no click-fest) and the hefty research trees. You do build up your planets, but that's as simple upgrading a unit. You just select the planet and click a button to upgrade a certain aspect.

 

It's different from other RTS games I've played it lots of other ways, too. There's a nice variety of ships, but not too many, and ships never become obsolete. Eventually you can even research demolition charges for scouts to help destroy structures. Capital ships level up and you can pick from a few different abilities to improve with each level, so high-level capital ships are important. Many ships play support roles, boosting friendly shields or improving friendly targeting, or disabling enemy shields and abilities. The game really emphasizes mixed fleets and abilities, and micromanaging a battle generally comes down to using complementary abilities at the right time (like disabling a capital ship when it's hurting and trying to run and then using big cannons on it). The fleet AI is good enough that at first you can just throw your fleets around and watch (they're not so good with abilities, though).

 

The battles are also slow. Even the smallest ships can take quite a beating (until you're focus-firing with larger fleets, anyway), and capital ships can sit there slugging it out for minutes against each other, often retreating to fight another day.

 

Even on the fastest game settings and the smallest maps, and even if you out-play your opponent from the get go, it can still take a solid 2 - 3 hours. My opponent last night was so hopeless that he may have only lasted 60 minutes, though :) I can only guess how long a large map can take. I've done one 4v4 (with three coworkers against 4 AIs) that took 4 hours, and that was a small map for 8 players. With larger maps with multiple stars systems, I can't imagine how long they could take. It's a good thing you can save multiplayer games :)

 

The reviews I've glanced at all praise the game for successfully combining RTS and 4X gameplay elements into something unique, which is right, but in the end I'd say it plays more like an RTS in that it's best for equal-size teams duking it out on maps that aren't quite big enough for the both of 'em. Make the maps too large and there are problems (your fleet cap isn't tied to the size of your empire, making over-sized empires easy on massive maps), and play FFAs and they'll play as crappy as they do in any RTS with people getting hopelessly ganged up on, especially in a single-player game with the retarded AI "diplomacy."

 

The interface is brilliant. Everything is so wonderfully easy to do. You can paying close attention to a battle and without adjusting your view you could easily select a planet, assign it's rally point to a fleet, and then queue up some new ships which will automatically jump to that fleet and form up with it. It could even be another fleet in another battle somewhere else that you're not watching, because you can still monitor things from the interface and make decisions like that, regardless of where you're currently focusing and micromanaging.

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I may have been too quick to judge the big FFAs with AIs. A coworker was talking about his game today and saying how the requests the AIs make got a lot less stupid after the patch. They're usually possible now :) So you can actually gain favor with your neighbours. You still have to accept that it's 1-way "diplomacy" (you just give the AI credits or resource, or attack targets they specify), but so far I'm having a blast :D

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