Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion Review
8.0our score

Ah Sins of a Solar Empire my old friend, it seems a long time since I originally reviewed the first installment and the two micro expansions for it. Now Ironclad is back with a stand alone expansion Rebellion. As the name suggests, this expansion is about a rebellion where the three factions from the first game have each split into “Loyalists” and “Rebels.” This all sounds great – now I have six sides to choose from and play! So, as soon as pre-purchase was available, I ordered up, got myself into the beta and tested away, finding a few issues and helping balance the gameplay.

Now that the game has been officially released, I decided to join in on the mass reviews Ironclad has been getting. Rebellion, as with Trinity (The name for the original Sins of a Solar Empire and the two micro expansions, Entrenchment and Diplomacy), is a 4X Space RTS that follows along the lines of the standard RTS theme: build a base, gather resources, build units, and kill your opponent. Although with Sins you don’t build a base, you build a colony, and you can explore other systems and colonize more planets. Each planet, moon, dwarf planet or asteroid can have any number of mineral mines, comprising of either Crystal or Metal.

Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion - Titan Ship

The new TEC Loyalist Titan Class against the new Corvette Class and the Original Capital Ship on the far right.

You also gather Tax from each planet you colonise.  The greater the population on the planet, the more tax you receive. All of these sources of income can be increased through research or specialised buildings such as Trade Centres for credits, orbital refineries to increase your crystal and metal income, and so on.
The game also allows you to spread your culture; this is much like your influence in other 4X games.

Gameplay

The gameplay is overall similar to the original installments. The additions added in Rebellion however do change the gameplay a fair amount.

Each of the original sides – TEC, Advent, and Vasari – have now split into Loyal and Rebel factions. Generally, the Loyal factions are defense-orientated, and the Rebel factions are offense-orientated.
Every faction and sub-faction now has new research and ships. There are only 2 new ships added, but one is a real game changer. The first is a Corvette, small cheap and good for harassing the enemy or fast scouting. The second is the enormous Titan class. You may have thought your capital ships were big, just wait until you see your Titan ship!

Each faction and sub-faction have specific bonuses and potential advantages over another. For example, the TEC loyalists are defensive and, once researched, have the ability to build 2 starbases in a single gravity well (System). Their Titan is also geared towards defense and, once leveled up a couple times, has the ability to heal itself, extend shields around friendly ships, or cause damage to nearby enemy ships.

Their offensive counterpart is geared towards damage. The TEC rebels have a unique technology that allows them to ally with pirates and other rebel factions usually found guarding uncolonised systems. Their Titan is very offensive with one of its abilities consisting of a high power blast targeted at structures and larger ships which causes immense damage.

Victory has many paths

Another addition to Rebellion are the new victory conditions. You could split these into two categories: defeat other players or simply win outright.

Defeat

Capital - A Player loses if they lose their starting capital planet. You cannot change capital planets in this game mode.

Flagship - Each player starts with a special flagship unit. If the flagship is destroyed that player is defeated.

Sins of a Solar Empire - Titan Shields

Shields up Captain!

Victory

Diplomacy – Revised from the original Sins to make it more challenging but fairer.

Research – When this mode is enabled, a very expensive tier 8 civic tech can be research after you research 50 other techs. The player who researches it first will win.

Occupation – A special occupation planet spawns with heavy militia in a special star system. If a player takes it and holds it long enough they’ll win.

Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion - Vasari Planet Attack

Vasari capital ships attack a planet. “All your planets are belong to us,” comes to mind!

Graphics

Not only have Ironclad had time to add all the extra gameplay to this expansion, they have also overhauled the shader model and engine to make the ships look much nicer.

Additionally we have a lot of new weapon effects, new planets and models, and we can now make all of those a higher quality in the options too! The options also allow for more anti-aliasing just to make everything look that much better.

Even with all of this added, they have still managed to allow Rebellion to run on a relatively entry level machine given that the settings are turned down accordingly. Most things can be changed individually, from planet detail to ship detail, turning bloom on and off, anti-aliasing and much more. Even with a entry level machine you can tweak it to look how you want.

Sins of a Solar Empire Rebellion - Rebel Titan

Rebel TEC Titan attack a Pirate Base.

Verdict

Unfortunately, there is not a great deal to put in this review without repeating what I have said in the first review.

Titans bring a lot of fun into the game, but can also increase the length of games depending on the races involved. For example, defence vs defence can become a long game as neither side will have enough firepower to break defences long enough to do any damage to the opposition’s economy or infrastructure. However, I like it, and I am a great fan of TEC Loyalists and their defence ability. In fact, below is a short video of a battle I had with my Titan. It lasted some time even though the video is a bit short – my Titan was in the fight for about 10 minutes, slowing killing off the opposition before I had to withdraw for repairs.

Rebellion is well worth the money for the game and, being a stand alone expansion, you don’t need the original game to pick this up.

Pros:

  • Plenty of features and game play
  • Relatively easy to pick up and play if you are an RTS fan
  • Good minimum requirements allows for a larger audience
  • Good modding community to keep the game new
Cons:

  • Games can become rather long
  • It is very easy to spread yourself too thin as moving across the map can take time
  • Ally A.I does not follow orders very well leaving you high and dry if fighting on multiple fronts

 

System Requirements

Minimum:
OS: Windows 8 / Windows 7 SP1 / Windows Vista SP2
Processor: 3 GHz Intel Pentium 4 Processor or Equivalent
Memory: 2 GB Available System Memory
Graphics: 256 MB Video Card w/Pixel Shader 3.0 Support (Radeon X1650 / GeForce
6800* or Better)
DirectX®: 9.0c
Hard Drive: 5 GB HD space
Sound: DirectX 9.0c Compatible Sound Card
Other Requirements: Keyboard and Mouse (w/scroll wheel), Broadband Internet connection for Multiplayer
* NVidia video chipsets must use driver version 296.10 or higher and mobile cards be set as the primary video chipset for the game.

Recommended:
Processor: Intel Core i5/i7 Processor or Equivalent
Memory: 4 GB Available System Memory
Graphics: 1 GB Video Card w/Pixel Shader 3.0 Support (Radeon X3000 Series / GeForce 8000* Series or Better)
Other Requirements:Broadband Internet connection, also to activate this game you must create a Stardock account while launching the game on Steam.

the author

Author at ManaPool. Working in the IT industry but with a strong passion for gaming, Gary resides near Brighton, England. He has tactical superiority of RTS games but likes to dabble in turn-based to provide entertainment for the founder of Manapool Peter. Known for hopping from MMO to MMO Gary has a wide array of experience playing MMO's but is hard to impress after playing the likes of Ultima Online and Anarchy Online. Also known for bad typing and rambling.

  • http://www.manapool.co.uk/ Evil Tactician

    Ah, those pretty pictures. If only I was any good at this game.

    We need a turn-based version of SINS!

    • Gary Thwaites

      Nah, just play it more. You beat me at Civ V I beat you at this. Is only fair :)

      • http://www.manapool.co.uk/ Evil Tactician

        I tried. I totally didn’t get it and ended up just spamming units / throwing it at the enemy (and still win that way). I don’t know, the tech trees in SINS always struck me as a bit odd / difficult to use.

        It’s like it wants to throw massive depth at you but then doesn’t give you time to explore said depth.

        • Gary Thwaites

          For a person who loves in depth gameplay I thought you would like this more. The tech tree is pretty simple really. It is broken down into section and sub sections. Military and Defence then Industrial and Diplomacy basically. Then the last one is supplies to increase your fleets and capitals. They are then basically in tiers. So for every civic or military station you build gives you a new tier in the tree. It may look daunting to start with but it is pretty simple once you get into it.

    • Gary Thwaites

      It’s called “Birth of the Federation” :)

      • http://www.manapool.co.uk/ Evil Tactician

        Now there’s a decent game. It did have it’s flaws, but the combat system was a lot of fun. There was a remake a while back but they got issues with copyright and stripped out all references to Star Trek, dropping the general interest in it to a point where I’m not sure they ever finished.

  • Skulb

    I noticed you haven`t done reviews of Homeword on the site. If you`re still doing retro reviews I think you should, since it`s still my personal favorite RTS after all this time. And if you managed to miss it the first time around you owe it to yourself to play it, even if you don`t want to review it:)

    • http://www.manapool.co.uk/ Evil Tactician

      I’ve tried playing it but never really got into it – or had issues running it. Agree though, it’s a game that would be well suited for a review on the site.

      But hey, if you’re a fan and you’re up for it – why not submit a review? If you’re a decent writer, we’re more than happy to publish it. That’s how we’ve found most people in our current team!

    • Gary Thwaites

      That is a very good shout, some new systems struggle to run it but I think I got it running once with minimal tweaking. Would be good to run a comparison against the remakes Gearbox are doing.