When I last looked at Sins of Solar Empire: Rebellion, I may have perhaps spent a bit too much time bemoaning the franchises lost potential. Whilst I stand by all that I said, the same won’t be happening here. Having spent time with the final review build of the game, it’s clear though that some of my initial (on-topic) thoughts were right on the mark: this is the ultimate version of Sins of a Solar Empire, this is a very good 4X space strategy game, even on its own, and it’s going to be a real shame to see Ironclad moving on.
Of course, the problem with recently previewing a game so late in the development cycle is that almost immediately you find yourself repeating what’s already been said so apologies if it seems like you’ve heard this all before (because you probably have). The core gameplay of Sins of Solar Empire has always been relatively simple on the outset, but something that gradual expands to get more and more complex. You start off with one planet, and from there you need to scout out other planets, colonise them, build infrastructure (all the buildable buildings are space based), create fleets and defend your territory against all invaders... usually by attacking first. You have ‘Civilian’ and ‘Military’ tech trees (although subsequent expansions have divided that up further, such as offense and defence, civilian and diplomacy, etc...), and you can also conduct diplomacy with other races and neutral pirates (set bounty, trade agreements, alliances and so forth). The more you expand and the more ‘frontiers’ you create, the more complicated things get. Thank god for the pause button.
|As always, the cinematic mode makes the action that much more engaging
As stated elsewhere, Rebellion represents the biggest overhaul and improvement to the game. On top of the usual fare of new ships, new techs, new options etc... Ironclad have divided each individual faction into two sub-factions, each that represent a certain racial theme allowed for in the backstory. The Vasari Rebels want to work more with other races whilst the loyalists want to exploit them even more, The Advent is split between revenge against the TEC, and routing out what it perceives as corruption from within, and even the TEC themselves are split between isolation and aggression. What this means in gameplay terms is that, in addition to the race specific techs and units, you also get techs associated with each faction. Each faction also gets access to their own unique class of Titan – the new class in the game (there’s also a new frigate/small ship, plus a new capital ship for each race).
The evolution of Sins of Solar Empire as a game is accumulative rather than iterative. On their own, the previous ‘micro’ expansions did little to change the main gameplay, only enhance it, and in some ways the same is true for Rebellion. True, it’s the biggest expansion to date and does the most to enhance and improve on the game, but the comparison between the original game and Rebellion is greater than the comparison between, say, the Trinity edition and Rebellion. In a way, this means that this is the best version for newcomers to jump in – all of the improvements and enhances are all there from the get go, without the need for patching or even the need to own the previous games because it’s stand-alone. It’s the best use of a stand-alone expansion we've seen to date.
|Starbases remain a powerful defensive tool, where they are placed
You may wonder why I haven’t mentioned the multiplayer yet – to be honest there’s no need. It’s the part of the game that’s changed the least overall, because it doesn’t really need to. You just play a match like you normally would locally, except open it up to other players across the internet, much like any Paradox internal title actually, just without the reliance so much on direct IP connections. Interestingly enough, when we spoke to one of the Ironclad leads when we were previewing the game he mentioned that their data suggested a lot of people didn’t bother with multiplayer anyway. A thought must still be spared for the things that you know are not going to be addressed now, at least, not until they decided whether or not to make a Sins of a Solar Empire 2. The lore or the ‘story’ part of the game is what I’m thinking of, especially (just what the hell are the Vasari running from?). The torch now passes well to newcomers like Endless Space and Gemini Wars, so hopefully they’ll be able to carry the genre forward. A wonderful last hurrah though, as expansions go. With the new ships and tech, the internal divisions along with everything else, there’s hundreds more hours of fun to eek out of this game. There’s really only one thing that matters in this game: Total Victory.
SINS OF A SOLAR EMPIRE: REBELLION VERDICT
A thought must still be spared for the things that you know are not going to be addressed now, at least, not until they decided whether or not to make a Sins of a Solar Empire 2. The lore or the ‘story’ part of the game is what I’m thinking of, especially (just what the hell are the Vasari running from?). The torch now passes well to newcomers like Endless Space and Gemini Wars, so hopefully they’ll be able to carry the genre forward. A wonderful last hurrah though, as expansions go. With the new ships and tech, the internal divisions along with everything else, there’s hundreds more hours of fun to eek out of this game.
TOP GAME MOMENT
There’s really only one thing that matters in this game: Total Victory.