It’s amazing how quickly 30 minutes gaming can turn into hours. Whether or not I was in our beloved Milky Way, I’m not sure, but all that matters now is how many captains I send spiraling into the void of space. Too bad there’s no animation for their eyes popping out…
The human race is divided into two different factions – the capitalist Trader Emergency Coalition (TEC) and the religious fanatics, the Advent (Collectivist Religious Sect) Unlike what I was hoping for, there’s only one alien race to oppose my domination, the Vasari. The race is far ahead of any technology the humans have access to, and like the Borg, they either assimilate or destroy. Sins takes place 10,000 years after these Vasari were defeated, and during this time, the TEC have forgotten the history of the war with the Vasari. But now they’re back, and they have an attitude. The Vasari demonstrated their power by wiping out an entire trading outpost within hours, and you guessed it, you’ve been appointed to save the galaxy.
Sins is in a league of its own when it comes to real-time strategy. While there is very little (if any) storyline worth mention, the devs did a great job at focusing on unique aspects – like space combat. Similar to the old-school Galactic Civilizations, you choose a map size, number of AI, and other variables that can make the game go for a couple of hours or a couple of days, all depending on those predefined settings. If you chose a huge map with tons of enemies, guaranteed you will have plenty to keep you busy for a good week. Throughout the duration of each skirmish, you are presented with the choice of being a neutral faction or a merciless warmonger. The AI gives you missions based around this, letting you gain favor with their faction. The computers aren’t (entirely) stupid either, if they feel threatened, they’ll do whatever possible to ally other players (be it you or not), shift all resources to fleet building, and engage diplomatic conversations. If those fail, they now have their allies to back them up… or backstab them.
Let’s talk money. Income is based on what you have and where you have it. Each planet type has access to different asteroids, which directly reflect your potential and current income. You can get cash money from trading posts and refineries, though taking after Vikings and plundering your foes is just as viable an option. With the ever-present possibility of your annihilation, you’ll be in an arms race with your alien counterparts, and upgrading is expensive. The game finds a strong balance between the requirement for money and the means by which you may get it: to get money fast, you need a fleet. To get a fleet, you need money. The backbone of the factions’ income is the asteroids. Speaking of upgrading, you’re set with a certain fleet capacity at the beginning of the game, and can only accommodate for that number of ships. You can upgrade the capacity to get more ships, but the catch is that you will increase the upkeep cost while you do this. Capital Ships are by far the most intriguing vessels in the game. Think of them like flagships, the Enterprise, Voyager, something like that. They are the key to winning the game, and similar to Warcraft 3 or Demigod, they level up as they fight, making them all the more powerful.
StarDock has plans for two mini-expansions for the game, the first being Entrenchment, which adds new defensive platforms, and the other focused on Diplomacy. With Entrenchment, players will see a couple new structures like starbases, mines, and upgrades for basic space defense platforms. With Diplomacy, you’ll be able to upgrade benefits with each NPC or player you are allied with.
The Good: Vividly detailed battles, with movement across 3 axes. Zoom functionality will let you each and every planet, alternatively, you could focus the camera directly on your marvelous flagship.
The Bad: The AI can get repetitive in its actions, becoming predictable over time. Some background applications conflict with the game abnormally, and while there are patches out now, initially Fraps was causing unusual lag.
Overall: Single Player games can take from 2 hours to a week (depending on the Star Systems and Planets), and multiplayer, when it works, is nothing short of epic.