Short version: Did you play the first? Get the expansions.
Long version: Do you like 4X games? Do you like RTS games, and are you potentially cynical about them like me? Get this.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity is the original Sins of a Solar Empire game combined with its two expansion packs, Entrenchment and Diplomacy. Sins is an RTS with strong 4X elements, and rather than the standard open map, the game focuses on key points. Most of the action takes place around planets and asteroids, near stars, and all connected by hyperspace paths.
Micromanagement is generally put on the back burner in favor of good fleet variety, resource exploitation, and careful, precise strikes at weak points. There’s a lot of cat and mouse, a lot of distraction, and a lot of waiting. Sins is much more akin to chess than Starcraft. Of course, that’s just the base game, which is excellent, but the two included expansions add a ton.
Entrenchment fills in the gaps in the defense of the first game. Players needed to sit fleets around previously, now they can place star bases (devastating defensive placements that can hold planets and phase lanes with serious offensive abilities to quickly take an area) and deploy mines, among other defensive enhancements. There are also new entries on the new defense tree, helping to keep defenses up to snuff late game. There are also devastating structure-killers, changing the nature of the game from cat and mouse chasing open systems to countering the strategy and building/replacing ships on the fly. Battle lines, defensive lines and drawn, trenches are dug out, and players are going to slug it out. Improved AI means better battles and stronger assaults, as well as smarter defenses, making those wins harder to get.
Diplomacy adds, of course, cheese steaks.
Oh, and diplomatic options.
Envoy ships play a major role, and pirates have been upgraded to be pickier about targets. The AI is smarter too, and no longer is reliant on ganging up on the player to make up for its lack of intelligence. It’s closer to the Galactic Civilizations AI, which plays more to win for itself rather than just make the player lose. Diplomacy pushes players to focus less on military research and more on science and cultural advancement to gain influence which can be more useful than any weapon when you pay another player with a powerful army to hit a target for you.
Players can also reach a diplomatic victory, thanks to a score that goes up or down based on relations with other factions. The game is great at explaining interfaction relations, specifying just what’s going on even, but that doesn’t make it easy to keep everyone happy, of course, but it does help players who want options beyond “Destroy them all” to advance in the game, and take the heat off themselves as well.
The expansions also improve the control and visuals. It’s easy to zip around the galaxy and select specific fleets thanks to the very well designed interface, and the galaxy just looks great, with icons handling things for far zoom levels, and beautifully rendered ships showing up once things are close. The game’s performance is smooth and relatively easily navigated, a pretty small learning curve overall, something often lacking in the RTS and 4X genres. There’s a lot of game to learn, of course, and it’s not an easy game because of the scale, but it’s satisfying as can be.
Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity gets 5 out of 5 stars. It’s a deep RTS with surprising 4X depth. Looks great, sounds great, plays great. The nature of phase lanes and resources helps keep the game focused and keep conflict high without ever burning players out thanks to the supreme pacing.