Sins of a Solar Empire is a slow-paced and large-scale real-time strategy game that incorporates all the best parts of the traditionally turn-based 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) game genre. Ironclad has really nailed the pacing of the action—whether you’re commanding your fleets or managing your planets, there’s always something to keep you busily entertained, but never too much to wrap your brain around.
Contrary to what the opening cinematic would have you believe, there is no storyline campaign following the epic space war between the Trader Emergency Coalition, the Advent, and the alien Vasari, but you can play an open-ended single-player game against very competent (and sometimes downright evil) AI players, or jump online to face other players. The three playable factions are not only visually distinct, but have more than enough unique technologies, ships, and abilities to make playing as each a different experience.
You start out every game with a single world, but by building a fleet and colonizing other planets and asteroids you create an empire that can even stretch to neighboring stars. Of course, to do so you’ll have to deal with the competition: other fledgling empires are fighting for the same territory. To beat them you’ll have to build a fleet of hundreds of starships, research new technologies, and manipulate the diplomatic situation to your advantage. A clever bounty system allows you to sic pirate raiders on your enemies—but you have to watch out, or other players will put a bounty on your head so large you’ll be too busy fighting off pirates yourself to defend yourself from your neighbors.