I am terrible at Sins of a Solar Empire. Just plain awful. The AI beats me over the head with a mallet and when I dabble in an online game it’s not long until my teammates realize, “Uh oh…we have a deadweight teammate.”
When I play a head to head game my opponent loves me.
This was the case with the 2008 original and it’s still the case today with the release of the stand-alone Rebellion expansion. Despite the fact that I’m not a novice real time strategy player, Sins brushes me aside like an annoying gnat.
But I love it.
I guess that makes me a Sins Sadist. Honestly, I don’t mind that I’m terrible; Sins remains a wonderful game despite my ineptness.
Rebellion, like the other expansions, keeps the core gameplay intact. This is still a real time strategy game of controlled chaos. Ships auto-fight so you don’t need to tell them to attack an enemy when in the same planetary system; in some ways it’s a hands off RTS that allows you to micromanage if you want to go that route by traditional clicking on an enemy or manually triggering a capital ship’s powers.
I still fall victim to wanting to watch the big fights – zooming in and taking in the beautiful effects as ships blast the snot out of each other. Of course when I do that there’s other stuff going on in the game that likely needs my attention and I end up getting punched in the face because of it. Like I said, I am not a good player. Still, it’s memorizing to zoom in and watch a huge battle in Sins of Solar Empire. There are times when it’s a beautiful game to simply watch.
It’s like a classic turn based 4X space strategy game if it moved at a measured real time pace. You build massive fleets, research powerful technologies, put on your diplomacy hat, and scoot around the system discovering new planets and colonizing them. Rebellion adds some important and in many ways game changing features, specifically to the end game conditions. You can now win via a “research victory” or via diplomatic means, or by conquering a specific planet (which is ludicrously hard to do). This is a huge deal as before it felt like a game of Sins always ended in a massive slog to see who proved victorious; now it has more of a Civ feel as you can try to avoid playing the galactic version of Genghis Khan. Not that you can play Sins as a pacifist – eventually battle is going to happen be it against another faction or against pirate raiders (which can devastate a player if they are not ready for them.)
The other additions to the game, well I’m simply not an adept enough player to truly appreciate them. More capital ships? Awesome! New ship types? Neat. The new races are basically rebel factions to old ones. There are clear differences with each race but some of the variations are more subtle in nature — you won’t find a robot race that can live without food, for example. The races differ here in the technology tree and the ships they can build, not to mention some basic abilities. But it’s not quite like GalCiv or Master of Orion in that the differences between the races are not as immediate. Like much of Sins, you’ll need to dig deeper to understand how it works.
I can’t forget the behemoth Titans. Being able to construct these floating attack fortresses is expensive but undeniably fun to unleash upon the galaxy. Every race can field a unique Titan and although it takes a long time to research and deploy, once one arrives it can change the momentum of a battle.
The fact that I keep playing, and losing, is a testament to the beauty of this game; I am slowly improving, learning how best to use each race, how to work the diplomatic and bounty angles and what to research and when.
Oh, I’m still losing…just not as spectacularly.
This one definitely deserves the No High Score High Score Award.