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I came across this game by accident. I was skimming a magazine for random articles to read and one on this game caught my eye. After reading the article I went online and found that it was due the next day. I pre-ordered it (can you really call being one day early ‘pre-ordering?’) and picked it up the instant it was available to me. I’m glad I did, too, because this game is something that I need every minute I have to review, being as big as it is. How big is it? How does, ‘as big as you want it’ sound?

Sins is designed to expand with technology there is no hard limit on units, planets, systems, players, or even stars. Yes, you can have multiple star systems in one game, although that makes this tremendously huge game even bigger. It’s so big and epic that one ‘small’ three-player game takes hours to complete. There may not be a story-based campaign, but for multiplayer or skirmish fans, this game could suck up your days and nights with just one game.

The game is your basic RTS in most regards. You build your base, harvest resources, and then set off to conquer the universe. What makes this so unique is the way it’s presented. For one, the graphics are well done. They’re not the prettiest in town, and the effects are lack-luster (especially after player Eve Online: Trinity), but they work very well, and the sense of scale is unparalleled. You can zoom in on one ship, and then seamlessly zoom out to see your whole solar system and then all of the systems in the game. It’s amazing. Units become icons at a distance to increase controllability, but do so dynamically so that your capital ship that you can still see doesn’t turn into an icon just because the now-too-small-to-see fighters did.

Gameplay starts around your home world. You get a ship factory, some asteroids to mine, and a couple of construction ships. Your first order of business should be to build a capital ship factory since you get your first capital ship for free. Even that presents options, since each one – there are about five per race –  presents advantages. One may offer better support via fighter squadrons while another may be better for ship-to-ship combat, and yet another could learn the ability to colonize planets by itself. Your capital ships level up in combat, so keeping them alive is important, and not just because they’re expensive as hell.

Commanding your empire is fairly easy due to the list on the left side of the screen that shows each planet or area you’re in and what else is there. With this you can select any unit or planet without having to scroll to it. This makes it easy to manage your home world from the front lines.

The research portion of the game is ok, but the fun techs are too deep into the tech tree. I know the games drag on, but why make all of the fun techs such a late-game bonus? The fact that you have to spend so many resources on your infrastructure is frustrating, because you have to research two branches logistics to expand your fleet while building up each planet you conquer. It makes it hard to focus resources elsewhere, like in your fleet. The game is also extremely stingy in the amount of resources it gives you.

The diplomacy options are neat. There are several alliances you can make with other races, but the biggest – and most fun – addition is that of the bounty system. You can anonymously place a bounty on another player, making them a valuable target to other players as well as pirates. For as long as the bounty lasts, each kill of that players’ ships gets the killer a portion of the bounty. This is a good way to gang up on a really tough player or keep the pirates off your back. This makes for some very under-handed dealings and suspense, but can also kill your economy if you’re not careful. It’s easy to spend so much money in this bidding war that you can’t afford to maintain your empire, so beware.

The AI in the game is solid, if unspectacular. In fact, that’s the best word for this game: solid. There’s nothing glaringly wrong with the game, but nothing is oh-my-god awesome, either. The game claims to be a 4X RTS, but most RTS games are 4X, so that’s more a marketing gimmick then anything else. Still, though, this game is great fun if you can look behind it’s size and micromanagement. Alphasim out.

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