play perpetually, that has the depth and scope to become part of the very fabric of my life."/>
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Sins of a Solar Empire (Sins) is a beautifully crafted and balanced space strategy game. While it convincingly delivers a sense of space, exploration and adventure - at times I wondered whether this was all just smoke and mirrors. Regardless, this is a game honed and balanced in all the right places and one that simply makes me smile. The question then is does it deliver an experience I can play perpetually, that has the depth and scope to become part of the very fabric of my life.
Let's make clear from the outset that this a skirmish based game. Within each there are many planets to fight for, wealth to accrue and opponents to dominate. Each skirmish is hugely varied in planets and size, creating strategic encounters that can last anywhere from one to four or five hours.
This variety comes in part from the three races that are each with their own special research and abilities. The ships too, although unspectacular in design, have varied and believable movements through space from the largest capital ships to the smallest fighter. Then there are the planets, which are covered in tiny ships moving throughout the atmosphere and have backdrops that are as colourful, rich and starry as you could wish for. Above all, there is a real feeling of wide open space waiting to be explored. The aesthetic is finished off with lighting effects from the local sun of each system and smooth zooming from the smallest fighter out to the entire solar system without a glitch.
The more you play, the more you learn and the more immersed you become in the world - yes Sins really does grow on you.
The games are slow paced at first as you get to grips with what to research, build and develop your diplomatic strategy. The tutorials get you started but it takes a few proper games before the mechanics and clever game design click into place. This does involve a certain amount of 'suck it and see' but this is a joy as there's so much to discover in the ships, research and just whole ambience of the game. The learning curve is relatively steep but the nicely laid out interface and slick game workings certainly help reduce the complexity. The more you play, the more you learn and the more immersed you become in the world - yes Sins really does grow on you.
The in game music is mellow and spacey bringing nice atmosphere whilst also being easy to ignore when the battle action get intense. The pilot voices however, grate against the sleek and serious feel of the rest of the game; coming across as cocky and flakey - I soon set the dialogue sound volume to zero.
Interplanetary lanes mean space is not endlessly explorable, battles and ship building taking place around the local planet; and moving along these travel routes by phase jumping (warping). Although this does restrict the exploration side of the game, Sins gets away with it by creating a wonderful 'feel' of open space, meaning you don't really notice the boundaries.
It's a little early to tell if this will outlast my desire for wide open gaming spaces in which to live, explore and grow.
Sins is game that I expect to really grow into. The restrictions on the player in space are so well disguised that the freedom to live and play here is achievable. Each skirmish takes you deeper into the depths of Sin's strategies and nuances. Any initial doubts about longevity quickly pass when you realize how deep this game - despite the lack of a campaign mode (which would have been a good alternative to the brief tutorials).
It's a little early to tell if this will outlast my desire for wide open gaming spaces in which to live, explore and grow. But Sins is certainly on the right track, offering the illusion of freedom and whetting the appetite for gamers like me. I'll be playing some more over the coming months and you'll no doubt hear more from me on Sins before too long. In the meantime why not check out my Twitter page for weekly updates.
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