The lights are on
What new ideas the game brings to the table and how well old ideas are presented.
How good a game looks, taking into account any flaws such as bad collision or pop-up.
Does the game’s music and sound effects get you involved or do they make you resolve to always play with the volume down?
Basically, the controller to human interface. The less you think about the hunk of plastic in your hands, the better the playability.
Flat out, just how fun the game is to play. The most important factor in rating a game.
This expansion to the real-time strategy game from 2008 that fuses galactic empire-building with impressive tactical spaceship battles is a fantastic reason to revisit one of the better recent franchises in PC gaming. The elements it adds – enormous Titan-class ships, tiny corvettes, and minor differences between six sub-factions – are squarely aimed at experienced players, but the whole package is so good that there are very few PC gamers I wouldn’t recommend this to.
Sins of a Solar Empire’s stately pace allows the game to feel halfway to Civilization or Master of Orion while remaining real-time. You colonize new planets, build sprawling trade networks, spread your culture through the stars, and construct massive fleets full of varied ship types and sizes. The purpose of this entire enterprise, though, is war. Grand space battles pitting entire empires against each other are both awesome and inevitable.
Sins was a deep, complex game when it initially released. The two micro-expansions since (both included in this release) added a lot more, with huge customizable starbases and richer diplomatic interactions. Rebellion’s additions feel about the size of those two combined, and make the total package a vast game that takes weeks of exploration and experimentation to understand, much less master.
The new ship types, one larger and one smaller than those previously available, add diversity to fleets. Titans are mostly fun because they’re a fleet unto themselves, and who doesn’t like smashing an opponent with a planet-sized ship? Corvettes give brand new tactical options in battle, like the ability to disable and otherwise mess with enemy fleets. I’m not convinced that Sins needed more ship types, as the existing frigate-cruiser-capital triangle works so well, but longtime players will appreciate having new tools to play with.
Each of the three races now has two sub-factions with slightly different tech trees that specialize farther in one direction or another. TEC players, for example, choose between advanced capabilities in system defense or raiding. The variations are minor, but again present a nice change of pace for veteran players.
Rebellion isn’t a massive departure for Sins of a Solar Empire, but it’s a good enough reason to get back into the game or to discover for the first time one of the more interesting evolutions of the strategy genre in recent memory.
Email the author Adam Biessener, or follow on Twitter, and Game Informer.