reviews\ Feb 10, 2010 at 7:00 pm

Sins of a Solar Empire - Trinity - PC - Review

Sins of a Solar Empire is a very special game. It is one of the first games to truly combine the strategy and scope of 4X (eXplore, eXpand, eXploit, and eXterminate) with the frantic action of a RTS game. The original game was released two years ago, and it won many awards (including an editor's choice award on GameZone) because of its great gameplay. Last year the developers released the first "micro-expansion" entitled Entrenchment, which beefed up the game's defense. Finally the developers at Stardock have released the final micro-expansion called Diplomacy. To make the release even more special they bundled up the game and both expansions into one package and they called it: Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity.

Sins of a Solar Empire is classified as a 4X game, but I prefer to call it a RT4X (real time 4X), because of its unique nature. The reason is that 4X games are really huge in scope is because they allow you to control the minute details of your empire, but they are normally turn-based strategy games that are very light on the graphics department. Sins of a Solar Empire really shook up this genre and turned it up-side down by having all of the actions done in real time and its powered by a good graphical engine. The game did all of this while maintaining the scope and integrity of the already established genre. You were free to explore and conquer up to four star systems (depends on how big the maps are) - depending on your ability.

There are three factions in this game: TEC, Advent, and Vasari who are trying to topple each other to claim victory over the star system and all the spoils that it entails. The TEC is the most balanced of the three factions and can be classified as the normal "humans" of this game. The Advent is an offshoot of the TEC that was banished thousands of years ago. They have acquired many alien technologies that make them a powerful foe. Most of their ships are very expensive to produce but can cause massive damage. The Vasari is an alien race that can create dozens of cheap units units very quickly. As you dig deeper in the game you will find that each race really does offer you slight differences in terms of gameplay and the overall strategies used to defeat your enemies.

A screenshot from the Entrenchment micro-expansion

Last year the first "micro-expansion" entitled Entrenchment was released, and it was received with welcomed arms. One of the biggest issues many people had with the original game was that it lacked any true defensive structures. Whoever had the most advanced ships usually won a fight and planets only had a few small cannons with which to defend themselves. Entrenchment gave you the option to create the devastating star bases, mines, and upgrades to planetary defenses. Even though these new star bases took a hefty drain on your economy they were worth every penny. Having one of these star bases allowed you to come up with better defensive strategies. It also permitted you to attempt to conquer other planets without the constant fear of another raiding party coming along and capturing your relativity undefended world.

The newest "micro-expansion" to be released is also the star of the Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity game; and it is entitled Diplomacy. Whereas the last expansion really focused on allowing you to defend what you have already taken, this new one allows you to become a diplomatic powerhouse. There is a new diplomatic relationship screen that allows you to instantly see how different players feel about each other. This will help you when you go to the negotiation screen, which allows you to negotiate treaties or even demand bribes from other players. There is also a new diplomatic technology tree which allows you to become even better in your political abilities.

It wouldn't be an expansion pack if there wasn't a new unit, and thankfully the developers at Stardock delivered with the envoy ships. Each faction gets one diplomatic ship and they adhere closely to its overall philosophy. The TEC ship is called Neruda, which can be sent to help improve relations with other planets, and it can even increase trade for your faction. The Advent ship is called the Herald, and it is focused on getting better culture. Finally the Vasari ship is called Voruntaks, which will boost relations with other factions instantly by just being present. Each ship offers a unique spin on how the particular faction operates and they each feel great in action.

Other than the new features listed earlier, the developers took steps to really improve the game by tweaking two things: The first is a faster game speed, which improves overall game pacing and might shorten some of the game sessions; the other tweak is to the computer AI in this game, which is a very welcomed addition. The AI will now react in new ways that will give veteran players more of a challenge. The new difficulty levels are entitled cruel and vicious, and make no mistake - the descriptions definitely fit.

The graphics for Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity look good, even though the graphic engine of this game is two years old. As always, if you look hard enough you will notice that there is definite room for improvement, such as the lower quality of textures. Even though this game is relatively old, it will still amaze you to realize how stable the framerate remains. It is a moment of pure wonderment when you look at a massive battle up close, then zoom out to view the entire star system with no discernable lag or drop in framerate. At times you will find yourself "zoning out" just looking at the beautiful scenery of this game.

One of the best things about this game is the musical score. It really sets the mood for the entire game, and helps lift your spirits when it seems that destruction seems certain. At times you will want to just sit back and listen to the musical score because it is very peaceful and moving. The sound effects are also good because it truly complements the soundtrack. The voice acting, while at times is cheesy, really fits well.

Review Scoring Details for Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity

Gameplay: 9.0
Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity will keep you sleep deprived for months on end, especially with all of the new additions added to the latest expansion pack. Whoever said Diplomacy is dead needs to check out this game!

Graphics: 8.0
The graphics are still impressive, especially when you consider how it allows you to zoom way out and in without any framerate of lag issues. The problem is that the game is starting to show its age.

Sound: 9.0
I still love the music selection the developers chose to include. It really is peaceful and tranquil and help fully immerse the players during the course of the game.

Difficulty:  Medium
Unless you have played this game already be prepared for a steep learning curve. On the bright side there is a nice tutorial mode that will show you exactly what you need to do to get started in the game. Before long you will be playing like a pro.

Concept: 8.0
The newest Diplomacy expansion really fills in the missing gaps of this game and delivers something that is truly special.

Multiplayer: 9.0
Since there are no campaign modes in this game, the multiplayer mode is where you will spend most of your time. You will have a blast playing this game with your friends especially since the game has the ability to save a match at anytime so you can stop and start again.

Overall: 8.5
Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity is a great game that no strategy fan should be without. Plus this is a real bargain getting the game and both expansion packs for a fraction of the cost.


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