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Sins of a Solar Empire: 4X's Done Right

Being referred to as 4X game could have a negative connotation for many RTS games. The term 4X refers to eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate. Now this is a not a new term, but because of its sometimes negative connotation, it is one that I didn't expect to be coming straight out of the mouth of the developers of Sins of a Solar Empire. If you're going to say it, you had better do it with style, and the game does not disappoint.

Take your fleet and eXplore a huge galaxy. Each of the planetary systems is connected by a jump path that the ships can travel along. I am fan of being able to zoom way, way out of the the solar system you occupy to get a good look at all of your surroundings. On the other side of that, I like that you can get right up on top of the smallest ship and watch it fire away at a target. One of the very cool mechanics about movement in the game is they tried to simulate movement of large bodies in space. Each planet in Sins of a Solar Empire has gravity wells. A gravity well is a naturally occurring area around planetary bodies of, well, gravity of course. Objects closer to the source of this well move faster than those farther away. You cannot jump a ship in close to a gravity source, or it risks being sucked in. You also have to move away from a source to get a proper escape trajectory. This also means it takes a while to get your ships from the outer edge into the heat of the battle around the planet. It also means you have time to tactically move on attackers as they move in. You cannot always get to your destination in a straight line so you will have to make multiple jumps to reach your destination sometimes.

It is up to you to eXpand your influence across the galaxy. There are tons of structures needed to properly colonize a universe. Building means research, resources, and money. The research system in Sins of a Solar Empire breaks into three main categories with Military, Civil, and Artifacts. Research has to be balanced to incorporate the needs for expansion and the might to do so, regardless of other races. Planets can sometimes yield artifacts that will give you strategic advances in your quest to thrive. Find them by exploring the planets you take, and tapping into their natural powers.

In order to get ahead, you are going to need to eXploit not only the artifacts you find, but the all of the mineral and metal sources you can get your hands on. Your expansion in Sins of a Solar Empire will have to include financial networks that increase your gains and materials to build the universe in the image of your race. The damage you do is as much with politics and economics as much as a capital ship. Choose alliances and increase commerce. Make enemies and you had better build more ships.

Finally, what would the universe be without eXtermination? After all, it is your world; they are just squatting on it. Command capital ships and their fleets around the galaxy defending what you have and taking what you need. There are plenty of ship types in Sins of a Solar Empire, and plenty of ways to use them all. Choose carefully and know their limitations, because they are not free.

The music of Sins of a Solar Empire is well done and quite epic. There was more variety to it during battle and game play than I was expecting, making for a noticeable and welcome difference. The games look in play is amazing. I love the illusion of 3D space in a 2D format. It has worked okay on other games, and it looks great here. With so many ships buzzing around, you might feel like you have a hard time keeping track of them, but with the side menu on the HUD, it is very simple to keep track of the ships and their location. The game is still in beta and there are some things to balance and work out, I would say that computer placement of items and some ship pathing would be the major part of it, but I really enjoyed my time on it in spite of that. I look forward to the finished product soon, and I am sure they are ready to give it to me, as it looks like they have been working on this game for quite some time.

-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

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