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Publisher: Stardock
Developer: Ironclad Games
Genre: 4X / Real-Time Strategy
Engine: Iron Engine
Released: February 4, 2008 (US)
Modes: Singleplayer, Multiplayer
Ratings: ESRB: Teen (T)

Overview Edit

Developer Ironclad Games and Publisher Stardock recently released their new "4X-RTS" game Sins of a Solar Empire. A scant two days after the retail release, the game landed in the second position on Amazon.com's PC Video Game Bestsellers list. Ironclad Games and Stardock plan to support the game with free content and gameplay updates for the foreseeable future, which when combined with the game's high quality and mod-ability, will surely result in Sins of a Solar Empire becoming a PC classic.

Sins of a Solar Empire (SoaSE) places anywhere from 1 to 10 human or AI players as leaders of one of three unique races in a fierce battle for galactic dominion. Combining facets of 4X turn based strategy games and real time strategy games, Ironclad and Stardock have introduce an exceptionally fresh game to a PC Gaming market more used to variations upon "Safe Bet IX".

DRM Free Edit

With the launch of SoaSE, Stardock again takes a firm stand against DRM. As a Stardock representitive recently explained:

Any system out there will get cracked and distributed. But if you provide reasonable after-release support in the form of free updates that add new content and features that are painless for customers to get, you create a real incentive to be a customer.

As I mentioned earlier, Galactic Civilizations II was success in terms of actual sales, critical reception, and most importantly, satisfaction by strategy gamers.

Of course, the key-based system Stardock uses to deliver those updates can be cracked as well. As of this post, SoaSE is the single most seeded file in the PC Games section of the Pirate Bay with 1273 seeders (for comparison, Crysis is the secong most seeded game with 915 seeders).

Stardock's point - that anti-piracy should be about increasing sales, not decreasing piracy (and that many pirates do not in fact represent lost sales) seems to be bearing fruit. Certainly, the promise of ongoing developer involvement and support (when coupled with the opportunity to avoid all too common DRM hassles) was enough to prompt the author to purchase a legitimate version.


Gameplay Edit

Explore, Expand, Exploit, Exterminate (4X Strategy) Edit

Large scale games are common in turn based "4X" games, where massive maps allow players the freedom to strategically Explore, Expand, Exploit and Exterminate. The Civilization and Masters of Orion serieses are prime examples of this genre.

Real Time Strategy (RTS) Edit

As Real Time Strategy games evolved out of Warcraft and Command and Conquer, gameplay (especially in multiplayer matches) often boiled down to who could quickly develop their bases and demolish their opponents first. All too frequently, building a well balanced army became a fools errand, as a single unit could be mass produced and upgraded long before any assortment of unit types could be similarly developed.

Fusion Edit

Sins of a Solar Empire deftly weaves together many of the best features of 4X and RTS gameplay, while managing to avoid pitfalls common to each. SoaSE incorporates the awe inspiring scale, politics, and robust research of a solid 4X with the pleasurable pacing and action of a RTS.

SoaSE should be picked up by anyone that considers themselves to be a fan of either the 4X or RTS genres. Over the lifespan of the product, it will surely create many new fans of this intruiging new 4X-RTS genre.

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