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Sins of a Solar Empire: Review

There are few things in life that I hate. But when I do hate something, it’s not a half way kind of thing. I full on, forcefully seek to hate the things I loathe. For instance, Lindsey Lohan is on the list. Along with her goes anyone who looks like her. I also hate traffic police. And Italians. I don’t know why, but I just do. I love their cars, I love their food, and I love their country. But then they have to go and ruin all of those things by throwing in hairy Italian women with mustaches, and men who wear ray ban sunglasses indoors.

All of these things that I hate so dearly are trumped however. Nothing matches my passionate, unwavering, steadfast, and epic abhorrence for real time strategy games. They’re slow. I don’t care what RTS we’re talking about, but they just are. I don’t care if the game comes with six barrels of Cocaine and an Angelina Jolie in heat– RTS games are incredibly dull. Because they are slow, you find yourself sitting there wondering what you can do to amuse yourself while your little units crawl across the screen at a billionth of an inch per second. Because of RTSs, I’ve learned how to balance a check book, solve differential equations, and speak Kilngon. So if anything, I appreciate that RTSs give me motivation to do things I don’t want to. When the septic tank in my back yard blew up a few years ago, I just imagined the possibility of playing Warcraft 3 and suddenly it was like I had been swimming on a sunny beach in Bermuda. In reality, it was a sea of poop, but I didn’t mind. As long as I wasn’t micromanaging stupid little orcs and stupid little elves with stupid little ears. Fucking elves.

Did you know, I love first person shooters? Surprise! Well actually, I thought I did. But recently, I had been getting bored of the run and gun gameplay I was so used to. I reactivated WOW, and that didn’t do it either. Nothing was stroking my metaphorical gaming phallus, and I needed something that would. That’s when Sins of a Solar empire came into the equation.

I fired the sucker up, and what do you know; it’s like I was trying to pilot the Saturn 5 rocket over telephone with an autistic deaf mute. The tutorial bored me so badly, that it actually killed off the part of my brain that saw the color red. After ten or so minutes of the unbearable torture, I gave up and burned my hard drive. Just like you would with gangrene, you have to remove the problem at its source. The burned remnants of the hard drive dwell in the deepest depths of hell – I dare not to try and name these unholy places. Not that I could anyways, now that I only see the world in hues in blue and green.

Video Games.

But the itch still lingered. FPSs weren’t doing it for me. I was getting desperate. I tried sleuths of other games and nothing was fixing my broken soul (penis). Sure, GTA4 and MGS4 were incredibly entertaining for the 40 hours they occupied, but I can’t just replay them for the rest of my life.

All I remember was that it was dark, and lonely. I don’t remember much of the few weeks leading up to this freak occurrence, but eventually, I ran into a friend from school. He had told me how much fun he had been having with Sins of a Solar empire. I began laughing frantically and called him a heathen. But when he questioned why that was so, I was stumped. I said RTSs were slow, but he explained to me it was because I am stupid. He had a point – I’m usually terrible at everything I do, except Quake III and arguing with my cats. He promised me that if I sat through the tutorial, and really gave it a shot, I’d love Sins of a Solar Empire.

Goddamn him for being right. I was looking forward to getting over my ten year addiction of PC gaming, but no. He had to go and show me that I wasn’t getting bored of gaming, but instead, my tastes were evolving. He said it like this; “You liked Linkin Park when you were thirteen, right?” I replied “Of course not. I came out of the womb carrying a battle axe with Dragonforce playing in the background. I am a Badass, dude.” But he was right, I used to like Linkin Park, and I thought Dane Cook was funny too.

With my flawless sense of logic, I’ve deduced this – Dane Cook is Counter-strike, and Sins of a Solar Empire is David Cross. Don’t bother arguing with me, because I’m right. And if you think I’m not, look at this chart-

Charts are for smart people.

SOASE gets straight to the point- besides some information about the back story to the playable races (which you have to dig for in the handbook), there isn’t a story, really. I hate games that twiddle around in between having a plot, and not having a plot. Case in point? Crysis. Imagine if the game had just launched you into the gameplay with nothing but the dialogue “GO KILL SHIT HELL YEAH GATORADE FUCK THE ALIENS”. I’d be much more inclined to play through that game again if it realized what it was, instead of trying to pretend to be some pseudo intellectual sixteen year old’s livejournal. But it doesn’t, so I hate it. Don’t get me wrong though, I love Half-Life and games like it because the stories are awesome. And although I hate Halo, at least it realizes that the frat boys playing it have the attention span of a chair, and it doesn’t try to pretend otherwise.

You have single player, multiplayer, and a map creator. The single player let’s you enjoy campaigns as simple or as complicating as you like, which is fantastical. I was really bad at first, so I just bumped the AI down to easy, and I was having a great time, not having my rectum so deeply penetrated as if I were to leave it on normal or hard. Unfortunately, I haven’t had the luck of playing multiplayer yet, but I bet it’s just as good.

The actual gameplay is incredible fun. In true RTS fashion, there are three races. Each have different units and abilities, but their main goals of killing each other are all shared. It’s a bit like the Middle East, except SOASE has toilet paper. I really like the balance of materials in this game – although you have to worry about the rarer crystal ore, you still have to manage your credits so that you can pay off the pirates of the nearby galaxy from attacking you, and instead attacking your enemies. Although if you find yourself with too much of one resource, be it metal or crystal, you can sell them to regain any sudden loss in credits. At first I thought the pirate system was a bit annoying; it felt like I was paying child support instead of waging intergalactic warfare. But I had quickly realized you can solve this problem just like you would in real life, and just kill them instead - although incredibly difficult, extremely rewarding.

It’s level of complication is directly proportional to the amount of Counter-Strike you play.

There are so many factors to comment on here… it’s a bit difficult to encompass the game without making it boring. One thing I noticed is that planet travel and playing areas are kind of like EVE Online. This makes for interesting tactics in the sense that you can only enter a player’s territory through a limited amount of passages. This makes tactics an actual tangible thing, and makes the game that much deeper.

The research system is unbelievable, and although confusing at first, it makes every game you play different since there are so many ways to approach building your structures and units. Your units will form fleets, with capital ships as the leaders of them. They enable special defensive and offensive abilities for your fleet, which adds even more depth – kind of like the guy watching a dispute who always yells “BET YOU WON’T HIT HIM!” Sometimes, he thinks you won’t hit him, and some times, he tries to get you two to talk it out. Guess which one happens more often in SOASE.

I can felate this game all day, but I’ll get straight to the point. You need to try this game – it’s the first instance where I felt a game was incredibly deep, but not necessarily difficult to learn. It reminds me of Team Fortress 2 in a way; very simple and easy to play, but difficult to master. As a matter of fact, I don’t think I’ll ever master this game, and that’s part of its appeal. I’m tired of games like Counter-Strike or Quake III where the learning curve ends at when you learn how to point at someone’s head. So I implore you, knuckle dragging Halo and Call of Duty enthusiasts- put down your 360 controllers and gaming mice, and pick up a copy of SOASE. Do evolution a favor, and do a bit of evolving for once. I’m glad I did, I no longer have to go to the chiropractor now that I walk upright.
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About nopkone of us since 2:35 AM on 12.15.2007

Video games.