Sins of a Solar Empire:
The Part-Time Commander

By Shamus
on Apr 30, 2008
Filed under:
Game Reviews

I picked up Sins of a Solar Empire on Sunday. I’d been holding off until I had more time to play it, but then my friend Bogan showed up with it this weekend and taunted me. A purchase ensued.

Sins of a Solar Empire
Not having the time to invest in the game properly until the weekend, I decided to just run through the tutorials. The most important thing that I learned was that under no circumstances should I ever be allowed to run a galactic empire. It’s harder than it sounds, and the consequences for failure are rather dire. During the tutorial I was taught a few short lessons about some buttons. Apparently there are buttons, and they need to be pressed sometimes. There were some other details in there about economies and spaceships, but they eluded me once the tutorial had run its course. I’m still pretty sure about the button thing, though.

Thus graduated from the Sins education system as a functional illiterate, I assumed absolute power over a fledgling empire and began my first game.

I built a small collection of spaceships, which were sent to an adjacent planet where they were murdered by space pirates. I built a trade center which sat idle, since I didn’t have anyone with which to trade. I built a series of scout ships and sent them to auto-explore, after which I never heard from them again. I built a capital ship and subsequently misplaced it. I pushed some other buttons related to the running of my main planet, none of which seemed to have any real effect except to deplete my coffers. Then I found some ships I didn’t remember building, flying around my world. They didn’t respond to my commands, and it wasn’t until just before they began bombing the place that I realized why.

A half hour into the game I was running an inept empire whose only accomplishments were staggering financial and military losses. I felt like I was playing Soviets in Space. My empire wasn’t so much mismanaged as sabotaged by my bumbling button-pushing. I quit the game before some sort of space-Khrushchev showed up with my resignation pistol.

I will say that Sins of a Solar Empire provided an absolutely gorgeous environment in which to lead my people into ruin and anguish. The space battles where my haphazardly wandering ships were ambushed and eradicated by fleets of ruthless pirates were a brief but flashy spectacle, not unlike fireworks. It was a real thrill to see them meet their untimely end against a shimmering backdrop of cobalt blue gas and drifting astral rocks. Even the scourging of our planet’s surface via orbital bombardment was pretty. The waves of rolling flames engulfed the cities in a burning holocaust of nuclear fire, snuffing out the lives of my people in beautiful orange clouds of luminescent plasma. My only lament is that my people wouldn’t have been able to enjoy the scene from within their doomed underground bunkers. Perhaps as they huddled together in those final moments someone asked, “How did it come to this?

The sensible reply would have been, “When we let Shamus, that drooling imbecile, run our homeworld.

People have praised the interface of the game for the way it allows you to throttle the flow of information from the game to the player to suit your own particular ocular bandwidth. But no matter how elegant the presentation is, it doesn’t change the fact that you need to have some vague clue as to what you’re doing. Without that, the entire HUD is simply a well-crafted control panel through which you may oversee your own undoing.

Sins of a Solar Empire can be viewed as a hybrid of the empire-building turn-based games like GalCiv and the RTS elements of Homeworld. Having played lots of both, I figured I’d be able to jump into this fairly easily. This miscalculation resulted in the death of an entire planet.

This is not too say the game is too hard or complex. It’s just different, and you can’t really build on what you’ve learned in other games to help you along here. The tutorial teaches you how to use the interface, but figuring out what you should be doing is your job. At the start of the game there are dozens of possible actions to take, without any real hint as to which ones are a good idea or why. I imagine I’m going to lead a couple more doomed empires into history before I get a handle on the thing.

This is not a game to be dabbled with or perused. This is a game which requires a certain investment of time.

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  1. qrter says:

    I’m totally inept strategically and have always been crap at RTSeseses, but I loved SoaSE and it only took me about 7 hours to get the feeling that I had a vague idea of what I was supposed to be doing.

    So yes, it’s a game that does indeed require a bit of time to get the hang of, but the payoff is great and the ‘RTS illiterate’ like myself can even get in there.

  2. Solka says:

    Sorry to say, but I got the basic hang of the game pretty quickly, and I don’t think I’m such a hardcore fan of RTS of 4x games. I just took the time to carefully read every buttons before pressing them, in order to know what they’ll do.

    Oh, and played vs 3x easy AI to help myself get a good grip of things, and allow me to breathe while they were at each other’s throat.

    I am pretty found of the StarFighters myself, and I usually buy 6 of those plateform to defend my worlds. They just buzz around like crazies! :)

  3. Terran says:

    “Soviets in space” and “resignation pistol”……I smell a Mel Brooks-ian retro-musical in these little gems.

  4. Shadow2336 says:

    Oh, you haven’t seen anything yet, Shamus. Wait until you get in a team battle with one of your friends against AI. It has taken me so far 12 hours to fight this battle against 4 AI with a buddy of mine. They just *wont* die. And they’re on easy.

    Go figure.

    However, once you get past the learning curve, the game is quite fun, and because it’s slower than say, COH, I can actually sit there and think up strategies before my opponent comes to my base and kicks over my anthill.

  5. Allerun says:

    Yeah, I know what you mean. When a friend of mine and I got it, first thing we did was start up a lan game against the AI, no tutorial first, no campaign, just jumped straight in. Two hours later, we figured out that you can expand your tactical and logistics on your planet and research past level one. The learning curve is steep, but once you get over it, it’s an awesome game.

  6. Stark says:

    I love this game. It eats far too many of my sleep hours seeing as how it bleeds right past the avialable recreation hours with no trouble whatsoever.

    Of course, the easy ability to mod it and do entertaining things is partly responsible for it’s time sinking abilities. For example creating a TEC carrier that houses, say, 150 strike craft requires changing exactly one line in one file. Well, 3 lines if you want to be able to actually build all those strike craft in any sort of reasonable amount of time. This is highly amusing. You get a free capital ship each game… build one of these swarm carriers as I call them and watch the mayhem. This single carrier can easily subdue any planet when it’s bombers and fighters are all built. I recommend an 80/20 mix of bombers to fighters. :) And it looks like a very large swarm of spacegoing bees are annihalating your enemies too. Not exactly balanced… but quite entertaining. If you modify a 4th line you can even capture the planets you subdue by giving the carrier the “colonize” special ability instead of one of it’s exisitng abilities. Of course if there are any TEC computer players they get the same carrier too… which makes things even more entertaining.

    So far I’ve made 15 or so mods – from as simple as this super carrier to completely altering the economic basis of the galaxy to even building my own galaxy. It’s all good if you like to tinker.

    There are also a number of excellent mods avialable for download and a ton of user created maps to keep things fresh.

  7. Burning says:

    I tried out the demo of SoaSE before buying it. I’m a total RTS noob. While I’m really loving the game now, I almost deleted the demo and moved on after attempting to play a game after using the tutorials. They really are insufficient to the purpose. They really need a micro-scenario that they walk you through.

    The thing is I really wanted to like the game, which is lucky for Stardock because it meant I stuck with it long enough that I learned enough to start to like it.

    Reading the manual helped. More than it should have, in my opinion. I know lots of people who love to say RTFM, but really a whonking great book is a lousy way to learn how to use any piece of software. And so many games have good in game instruction that its lack in a work that is in most every other way excellent was a bit of a shock.

    I also ran a scenario with no opponents. It’s kind of amusing when you start with all of them shut off because you get the victory screen right away. You still get the unaligned ships hanging around the uncolonized worlds, so its not combat free, but no one comes breathing down your neck. It allowed me to get a feel for the flow of everything. Mind you, I got the pacing all wrong. When I turned the opponents back on, I quickly discovered that I was expanding too slowly, but it was much easier to readjust at that point.

    The interface is good…once you learn it. It is not incredibly intuitive. But yes, the game looks damn good.

    EDIT: I really do love the game. The post got a bit negative sounding. It was well worth the effort I put into it. The only thing that is saving me from spending too much time playing it is that I share the computer that it runs on.

  8. Sharon says:

    Bogan!? What kind of name is that!

  9. Namfoodle says:

    I would love to play this game. I’m an RTS fan and I really loved the Homeworld franchise.

    But I have a feeling my computer is too old, since I bought it in 2002 and haven’t upgraded it since.

    I was going to re-install Starcraft to try satisfy my RTS jones but I couldn’t find all the disks. I have the case for the original game (with the key), but no disk. I found the broodwar disk, but no case. Curses!

  10. Bogan the Mighty says:

    Sharon- It’s actually my last name and I realize that Shamus has a pretty decent Australian audience so yes I’ve heard what it means.

    Don’t worry Shamus some day soon I’ll bring my pc over instead of the laptop so we can lan it up and create an empire of awesome.

  11. Corsair says:

    It’s actually Australian slang for people of the lower classes. I would assume it is not his actual name.

    My advice, Shamus, would be to play a few games in a gargantuan galaxy of a couple hundred worlds. This will slow down attacks on you by just about anyone, thus giving you more than enough time to enjoy the sights and learn the various stuff, and space pirates are pretty easy to fight as long as you have a half-dozen decent ships. That is, until they really progress and there’s about a hundred and fifty of their ships with every wave.

  12. Fireryhot says:

    I definitely know how you feel Shamus. I got the game a while back and I still haven’t quite gotten the hang of it. I was a little disappointed to find that there was no campaign, especially when there seems to be a big story. Still fun though.

  13. Shamus says:

    Bogan: “Sharon” is my mom, having fun at your expense. :)

  14. Bogan the Mighty says:

    BAH! I forgot she actually cares what you have to say. I am sure there are some Aussie’s out there that will have a similar reaction.

  15. Jimmie says:

    I’m totally inept strategically and have always been crap at RTSeseses, but I loved SoaSE and it only took me about 7 hours to get the feeling that I had a vague idea of what I was supposed to be doing.

    This is absolutely not a selling point. If I’m going to spend seven hours getting up to speed on something, it had better put cash in my pocket or have breasts.

  16. Oleyo says:

    Well, now I am very curious, Bogan.

  17. Dan says:

    I’ll echo above sentiments: “Soviets in Space.”

    Well played, good man. Well played.

  18. pffh says:

    Ah sins of a solar empire, great game. By the way has anyone found any map creator for it except the one that’s already in the game?

  19. It sounds like you didn’t have a good time with the game, which is really too bad. I’ve been playing the game since Beta2, and am _loving_ it. I very much understand the steep learning curve, I nearly gave up the game in frustration after a couple hours. But once I got the hang of it, I found myself enjoying it immensely.

    One thing that helped me learn the game was to mod the heck out of it so that my ships were much harder to kill, and did a lot more damage. You are correct that the tutorials are… sparse. I complained about this during the beta and was shouted down by the other beta testers…

  20. Binks says:

    Namfoodle – Check the requirements. It’s actually a fairly low requirement game, one of my friends computers can’t handle multiplayer Age of Empires 3 on low graphics but can play SOSE with medium graphics on a LAN.

    As for the learning curve, it is quite steep. I was in the beta for the game so I got it at a slower rate (less ships, techs, and overall things back then meant less to learn). The tutorial’s inadequacy has been a regular complaint since about Beta 3, which was a long time ago.

    The game is hard to learn, and very slow. If you can get over those two things (or actually enjoy them…I’ve known people like that…) then it’s probably the best current RTS out there. One of the hardest things to learn, that you should probably know about from the start (not sure if the tutorial mentions it, as I never played them, started before they were added) is that you have to upgrade your planet’s population infrastruction on newly conquered planets or they’ll just drain your credits.

    Good luck!

  21. Melfina the Blue says:

    You’re evil and now I can’t stop laughing…

    But hey, if your empire has to go down in history as one of the worst-run ever, at least you can blame it all on being distracted by the scenery.

  22. Rhykker says:

    Hahah, great stuff, Shamus. I was laughing out loud most of the way through the read.

  23. Phlux says:

    Thank god I thought I was the only one. I bought this game because everyone was fawning praise over it, and I needed something that would run on my laptop while I was travelling. I figured a game published by stardock would be a slam dunk. I was wrong.

    I got through the first tutorial and haven’t picked it up again since. 40 bucks down the drain. I have no idea what do to. The interface everyone says is so intuitive and scalable seems pretty lousy to me. I don’t want to give up on it because I believe people when they say it’s a good game…I just don’t know if it’s worth the time investment I am apparently required to sink before it even becomes semi-enjoyable.

  24. Nihil says:

    Personally, my favourite quirk of the game was zooming out from a close look at the exhaust shafts of your newest bomber to a strategic map of the entire galaxy in a single, continuous scroll.

    I think these are the sort of enjoyable features where modern PCs’ computing power is very well spent on.

  25. Telas says:

    I’ll probably never play this game, but your review is priceless. ‘Space Khrushchev with my resignation pistol.’ Beautiful. (BTW, note spelling)

    Let’s see, where have I felt this way before..? Was it the first time I tried to play Halo as “Master Chief Lookup McSpinner”? Maybe, but I got over that one pretty quickly.

    Was it the time I tried to play Close Combat? Yeah, I think that’s it. I began to call myself “Lieutenant Wipeout”, and about halfway through a game, I’d wish that my platoon would frag me and give one of themselves a battlefield commission. “Greatest Generation” my ass…

  26. Mark says:

    I had pretty much the same experience the first time I played. And the second. And the third. By then I had figured out that turning the enemy AI to “easy” and then making sure I won every bidding war with the Pirates (thus sending Pirates to my enemies instead of needing to fend them off myself) was a reasonable strategy for staying alive long enough to eventually win a game. Still, I read around the Sins message boards and felt like a drooling idiot for not developing ideal fleet compositions or optimizing my empire based on what race I was. The game has a steep, steep learning curve. I got a few blog posts out of it, but I haven’t played it since. Maybe it’s just that I’m too casual of a gamer, but this just seemed like too much work to me (your post made me laugh a lot though, because I had many similar thoughts).

  27. Matt` says:

    I had a teacher a few years back called Mr Bogan… he was Irish though, not Australian

  28. Blurr says:

    “space-Kruchev”

    I think you meant Khrushchev.

  29. guy says:

    i want to play this, but i have too many games as it is.

  30. Matías says:

    Don’t worry Shamus, you’ll do fine. My first game was a disaster (“Piraaaates! But wait, the previous wave hadn’t finished with looting my system”), but then I did learn very fast.

    One tip: enable the “auto-placement” option for building things, it will make your life easier.

  31. Kobyov says:

    The learning curve is a little steep, but there is a trick to make it a little easier while your starting (this worked in 1.02 at least, i havent reinstalled since i formatted) – place money on the pirates, but as little as you can to still be in the lead. ~10 seconds before they launch, the AI will outbid you – if you then outbid them, they wont outbid you again (this round). This means you get a lovely proxy army running through their base burning things. A good map to start on is (sorry i cant remember the name) a small two player symmetrical map with wormholes in the outside, and two arcs connecting you with your enemy – one planets, one through the star. On easy the enemy wont flank you through the wormhole, so it gives you an easy choke point. Also recording your games and watching the enemy can give you a good idea of what works. And the button you really need to know: the ‘jump as a group’ option

  32. Lost Chauncy says:

    “I built a series of scout ships and sent them to auto-explore, after which I never heard from them again.” Lol

    Probably defected to a well managed empire. Or started their own space colony somewhere (a la “Mutiny on the Bounty”)

  33. lxs says:

    I hope you post with further thoughts… I was planning to ask you to review this in fact :)

    I’m sorely tempted to buy it… but with WoW, Mass Effect, a PS3, Haskell/monads to learn and a coding project, I really can’t justify it! Oh… and the dayjob now and then >.>

  34. Tichfield says:

    I’m awful at RTS games, despite having tried lots of them, and I can’t even make heads or tails out of the Civ or Railroad Tycoon games (although I’d love to).

    Despite all this, I was able to jump into SoaSE and start doing fairly well almost immediately.

    I think this is a trend in the comments… folks who are hopeless with traditional real-time strategy games did well with SoaSE, while those who have years of RTS ease behind them couldn’t quite get what was going on.

    I’d be curious to see how much is due to SoaSE’s node-based structure. Traditional RTS games, such as Starcraft, are based on a continuous map. You’re given, essentially, a *field* on which you may choose where to build your base(s). Battles take place anywhere, at anytime, so long as no major geographical features or defences are in the way.

    SoaSE gives you far less freedom. Choke points and strategic areas are very clearly delineated, and their relationships to all other areas on the map are made absolutely crystal-clear – with visible straight lines, no less! This takes the streamlined, node-based design of Dawn of War (a rare RTS I can occasionally win at) and the original Battle for Middle Earth one step farther.

    Being able to instantly see how everything is related by having the ‘extra stuff’ eliminated is a *huge* plus for me.

    As for production and research… Having absolute freedom to do either is enough to paralyze me in a strategy game. Having strict limits on what I can do at any given time helps. A lot. Especially if I’m allowed to create the rules by which the choices are restricted. Hence, I do very poorly (once again) at things like Command and Conquer, while I do quite well at card games. (Yu-Gi-Oh, Marvel Vs., Astral Masters, Armaggeddon Empires, etc.)

    SoaSE’s research and production feels a *lot* like a card game. You choose your deck’s theme when you choose your faction. Deck order isn’t randomized (though interestingly, research order IS randomized in Sword of the Stars: Born of Blood, SoaSE’s spiritual predecessor and another game I love) but otherwise the structure is the same. You can’t field such-and-such a unit until you have such others in play, if you build this-and-that you have to get ready to sacrifice X, if you want this effect, you’ll have to tap such a resource.

    Researching artefacts is equivalent to buying booster packs and hoping there’s a card you can use in there.

    This post is already longer than intended, so I’ll stop here. :)

  35. edcalaban says:

    I know what you mean about the tutorial. I found the only way to figure out how to play is to play with about 6 AI allies against one hostile AI. Gives you plenty of time to bumble.

    Also, play TEC and get trade ports ASAP. So useful for having bonus cash on hand.

  36. McNutcase says:

    Sounds rather like Dwarf Fortess, only prettier and in space.

    And probably not subject to catsplosions.

  37. Yahzi says:

    I figured out enough of the game to play without losing, but playing and winning still eludes me.

  38. ArchU says:

    Funniest post ever. I’m glad you took your catastrophic losses with optimism, Shamus XD

  39. GAZZA says:

    This reminds me of nothing so much as Master of Orion 3. I loved the first game, was a big fan of the second, so of course I immediately purchased the third when it came out.

    And my experiences almost exactly matched Shamus – I had absolutely NFI what I was doing, there was absolutely no apparent feedback to show me whether my actions were having a good or bad effect – with one important exception: it looks like Shamus is going to play SoaSE again, whereas my (much more immature) response was to uninstall the game and return it for store credit.

  40. qrter says:

    SoaSE gives you far less freedom. Choke points and strategic areas are very clearly delineated, and their relationships to all other areas on the map are made absolutely crystal-clear – with visible straight lines, no less! This takes the streamlined, node-based design of Dawn of War (a rare RTS I can occasionally win at).

    You might have something there – the only other RTS game I actually enjoy playing and have some idea what I’m actually doing, is the lovely Dawn of War. Another big bonus is that it utilises the Warhammer 40000 universe, one of those things I grew up on. Aww. :)

  41. Kobyov says:

    OK so i reinstalled SOASE and lost an afternoon. The map to learn on is ‘Cynoisan rift’. And i thought I’d explain the shiny planet buttons to perhaps prevent mismanagement:
    * Civilian Infrastructure – Lets more people live here, which means more taxes. You have to buy the first 1-2 upgrades or the planet runs at a loss, your empire collapses, and you lose the game.
    * Emergency Facilities – Increases planet HP. Only buy this if you keep losing a lot of planets, its generally useless.
    * Explore planet – Gambling! you might find something awesome, you might find…. nothing. Best used if you have plenty of resources or are playing advent (they can research this down to half price).
    * Designate Capital – You can safely ignore this one
    * Logistics Capacity – Lets you turn your planet into an industrial centre – note that this doesnt do anything on its own, it just lets you build more things (research labs, production facilities).
    * Tactical Capacity – same as logistics, but for base defenses. Use this to build more defense buildings on your choke point planets when the attacks get large.

    Oh and the best person to trade with? Yourself! the idea is to build the longest connected chain you can of them, if you have a trade alliance with someone it just lets you add theirs to your chain. If you hover over the resource counters at the top you get a breakdown of what comes from where, including a map of your trade chain. Use this as feedback for which areas of your empire need attention.

    Personally I think the best way they could improve this game is a Total War style advisor – basically a ‘what should I do now’ button.

  42. mark says:

    I’ve done this in strategy games too. replay the tutorial, and pay attention this time :P

  43. Stark says:

    Kobyov said : “* Designate Capital – You can safely ignore this one”

    oooo! Noo!! This is a Very Useful Button. The amount of taxes and resources you get from each planet is effected by how far they are from your Capital planet. So, for example, if your intial planet is at the end of a chain of three and you conquer those neighboring systems you will only be getting somewhere around 80% of the possible resources from the third planet in the chain. Not sure thats clear so I’ll try to diagram it:

    A —- B —– C

    A is the capital, B and C are colonies. You get 100% of resources from A, 90 from B and 80 from C.

    Moving your capital to B gives you 90 from A 100 from B and 90 from C.
    It doesn’t seem like much… but it can really add up depending on the layout of the system. If you find a terran planet (they produce the most credit income of all planet types) at the center of a three way junction (that you “own” of course) it can make a dramatic difference in your resource count. There are, of course, exceptions… making an asteroid your capital, for example, could be detrimental as they have very little production value to begin with. I usually pick the most advantageosuly placed terran planet as my capital in order to keep my production as high as possible.

    If you start adding broadcast centers into the mix – which spread your “culture” in the galaxy and add 10% to the loyalty/production stat of every planet you own – then Capital placement can really make a huge difference.

    Hrmmm…. I have clearly spent too much time playing this game.

  44. Burning says:

    Mark said: I’ve done this in strategy games too. replay the tutorial, and pay attention this time.

    Seriously, in this case this doesn’t help much. That was the first thing I did when I got overwhelmed (mentally) on my first attempt at a game. I discovered that I hadn’t forgotten that much. There’s lots that just isn’t covered in the tutorials. A fair amount of what’s not covered you may actually need early on. For instance, in one of the scenarios included with the demo, I had AI ships in my home system 10 minutes into the game and the tutorials had really done nothing to prepare me for diplomacy.

    Great game. Not so great tutorials.

  45. BvG says:

    Lots of people compare Sins with Homeworld or 4x games (which means Master of Orion or Civilization). However it doesn’t have any traits of any of these games.

    The most interesting part of 4x games to me is, that it leaves me time to make up silly goals like “build a road across the whole continent”. RTS games only allow fractions of seconds for every task, or you’ll be overrun. Don’t get me wrong, I do like RTS games, being forced to make haste is nice if well executed (Starcraft). But if you play Sins like Civilization, you’ll be overrun within minutes.

    The RTS parts are mostly like Warcraft 3 games: Expand aggressively, destroy every minor participant, and take their gold err. planets. Make smart use of special abilities, while always maxing out production.
    If you then encounter a Major opponent switch to C&C 2 mode, send masses of itsy bitsy ships to opponent held points on the map, until the point belongs to you. Then you build up the infrastructure of your new point. With said infrastructure you churn out masses of tiny ships. repeat until win.

    The sad part is that with the much lauded manager, you seldom even get to see these points (so it doesn’t matter much how pretty they are), it’s just easier to leave the screen wherever it was last, and selecting all points of interest directly in the explorer treeview of doom.

    As for Homeworld, it actually had a similar setting, and dedicated research ships (satellites in Sins), but that’s about it. Sins isn’t living in 3D at all (besides the really nice 3D graphics), and Homeworld was one of the best (if not the best) empire scale story ever told in a computer game. Sins meanwhile doesn’t even have a campaign, while the “Story” consists of the intro movie.

    Said all that, Sins is a decent game that can stand on it’s own feet (although it’s not a game I really like to play, so I only played the demo).

  46. Weasel says:

    You might also want to give Sword of the Stars a whirl, along with the Born of Blood expansion and the latest patch. It’s another space based strategy game, except the strategy portion is turn based so you can take your time and actually have a plan instead of getting steamrolled while you’re still figuring out the buttons. The battles are real time, and it does take quite a bit of getting used too, but it’s pretty fun once you do. I picked it up a year or two back and it’s still one of my favorite games.

    Also since i see Homeworld mentioned often in the comments, Kerberos the dev team behind SoTS has alot of veterans from those two projects.

  47. Jeff says:

    I got the hang of Sins right away, actually. It’s slow paced enough, and I’m a quick and avid enough reader (as well as a honed vet of RTS/4x/Civ games) to understand the controls.

    I did get obliterated by pirates the first try.

    Second try… here’s the tip – don’t bother trying to outbid AI. Instead, when bounty clears, bid on two AIs, just once.
    They’ll keep topping each other’s bids, and you won’t even have to pay attention.
    Dunno if it works for 1.03.

  48. LintMan says:

    SoaSE is a really well done game that IMHO was completely let down by the lack of a single player campaign. Their excuse was that the game was so epic that you “create your own story” and don’t need a campaign. Now, I do “create my own story” and don’t demand a campaign in big 4X TBS games like Civilization (though GalCiv2 managed quite nicely to provide one). so with SoaSE being a 4X hybrid, it seemed reasonable.

    But what I came to realize is that SoaSE really is an RTS with some 4X-like pieces. Things like its quite shallow tech tree and underdeveloped diplomacy are more suited to an RTS than a 4X game. In one 3-star-system game I played, I had the tech tree maxed out before I conquered my local system.

    I don’t dislike the game, but I came to realize after just one or two games with each race that I had seen it all and it felt more like I was playing a typical RTS skirmish map than an epic strategy game. RTS skirmish mode doesn’t hold my interest, and neither did SoaSE – it’s just not deep enough, in the 4X sense, to justify the lack of a campaign in the way they claimed it would.

  49. Silfir says:

    I play the single player campaigns in RTSes to teach me how to play the game, because I don’t want to throw myself into a full-blown skirmish game overwhelmed with the options like it happened to Shamus, but the quality of the story is just as important.

    Starcraft and Warcraft III provided me with single player missions that gradually introduced me to the races, their units and strengths and weaknesses, and managed to tell excellent stories. Dawn of War did it for the Space Marines (which I was halfway competent at playing with already due to previous Multiplayer experience), but stopped right where I’d have expected the Orks campaign to begin, which was a disappointment. I mean, the Space Marines are already the easiest to learn to play with, so what the eff?

    For me, there just is no excuse not to include a single player campaign at all. So, I was disappointed at Sins – they managed to get me totally hooked on their epic story, and then say “Now we let you write it yourself”? What kind of attitude is that? It’s like I’m watching the trailer for the new Indiana Jones, get really pumped, and when I go see it I only get some guy on the screen telling me that I can imagine the new adventures of Indiana Jones for myself. Thank you very much, but I didn’t want to tell me my own Indiana Jones story, because quite frankly it’d suck mightily, so I went to the cinema to see yours!

    Sins is a cool game, but a well-executed single player campaign would’ve improved on it greatly.

  50. Sharon says:

    I predict you will experience the same feelings when your oldest child turns 15.( By extension, of course, that will make the middle child 13 and the son- 11) There are a lot of buttons there that the tutorials don’t even mention.

  51. MaxEd says:

    I’ve tried to play this game, but quickly became bored. Real time is sooooo not cool. About 5 minutes of battle to destroy 3-4 ships? We had such battles in a fraction of second in original Master Of Orion! I think I prefer turn-bases games, thank you.

    The only thing I really liked about this game was option to explore your planets.

  52. CuteShelly A says:

    i am ready for some action ^^ any guys want to take the challenge?

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