Tech + Lifestyle

games, gear, and googleplexes (joke)

Sinning it Up

This post was written by Zach, who runs the anime blog Akinotsuki. He and I have decided to write guest posts for each others blogs. For better or for worse, for kicks, for the differing perspectives of interests that we share… or something like that. Here’s his take on Sins of a Solar Empire.

Judging a book by its cover is wrong. Don’t let anyone, especially me, tell you otherwise. Judging a game by its title, though? Absolutely fine, at least in the case of “Sins of a Solar Empire” by Ironclad Games.

Although it shames me, the title of this game was what drew me in. Described as a RT4X on the game’s back cover, Sins of a Solar Empire somehow lives up to that puzzling genre description. Call me a cynic, but both the RTS and 4X genres have become tired. Sure: there are a few diamonds in the rough, but even those are tarnished by years of the same product over and over again. SRPGs can end up being the same, but at least they have a story line to pick up where the gameplay leaves off whereas RTSes and 4Xes leave it up to the player to find his own raison d’être.

As much as I like being treated like a grown-up, the fuel for the fire of imagination required for that existential quandary is nowhere to be found in these games. Maybe I could plot it out or play a re-enactment campaign in “Generic 4X (read: Civilization) IV”, but isn’t that just delaying the inevitable—my moving on to newer and better games?

Just as 4Xes have jumped the shark and are showing few signs of innovation, RTSes have fallen into the same trap: that of rewrapping a package and hoping that the person you’re giving it to doesn’t realize that you’re just handing them the same gift year after year (editor’s note: like Madden! I hate Madden). RTS fans seem to like it, and game sales are solid, but its a niche market, and even though the game devs have done a stellar job of changing my laser-cannon equipped tanks into catapults, they’re the exact same unit at the end of the day.

So what happens when these two stagnant gene pools come together and decide to make a child?

Magic, apparently. The tirednesses of these genres have suddenly met in a game that requires the constant attention of the player, a la RTS games, and the skills at macro-management, drawing from its 4X forebears. But from whence comes the reason for playing that these other games lack for the passersby? From the LAN.

Yes, you heard me correctly. LAN parties have not gone the way of the dinosaur, at least in this case. When I first bought the game, my brother and I started a game on our house’s wireless, flawlessly connecting to each other in what promised to be an epic, four-hour campaign that saw us taking over 62 planets in 4 star systems. Seems like a lot? It is, but that’s where the nerdiness kicked in, and each of us, playing to our strengths, traded resources in-game and shouted out “Hey, let’s rally at that star!”

At the end of the night (it was 4 a.m. and neither of us had expected that), we were both tired but gratified in our experience. The most telltale part of this, though, is that Sins of a Solar Empire has continued to do that for every new friend I drag into this game. Thus, if you weren’t already expecting it, I’m going to unreservedly tell you to check this game out if you have $30 and a bit of free time. You won’t be disappointed.†

This battle was epic.

This battle was epic.


January 26, 2009 - Posted by | Gaming | , , , , , ,

1 Comment »

  1. […] 28, 2009 by Zach What a week this has been. Characterized by Xam’d, Halo 3, Sins of a Solar Empire, and the general lethargy that goes along with being cooped up with very little to do than stare […]

    Pingback by Romanticism « 秋の月 | January 28, 2009 | Reply

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