Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion Review

Rebellion is the best way yet to experience the strategic joys of the Sins of a Solar Empire franchise.

Sins of a Solar Empire reaches new heights with the stand-alone expansion Rebellion, which is the best way yet to play this 4X space real-time strategy game. Developer Ironclad Games hasn't reinvented the wheel, choosing to tweak the four-year-old franchise's fundamentals instead of tearing things up. This results in an ingeniously refined new experience that leans on a number of adjustments and additions to features like victory conditions, ship classes, and even the graphical engine. All of this fine-tuning of the feature set doesn't quite warrant the $40 price tag (although owners of the previous games in the series can qualify for a $10 break), but for that cash outlay you get a greatly modified version of a classic RTS game that will keep you forging galactic empires for many hours.

Titans are big and incredibly powerful. But they also draw a lot of fire, so they aren't invincible.

Virtually all of the material in the original Sins of a Solar Empire and its previous Diplomacy and Entrenchment expansions is front and center in Rebellion. Gameplay remains focused on building a space empire in the far future through constructing massive battle fleets, colonizing planets and asteroids, gathering metal and crystal resources, stuffing the bank account full of credits, engaging other species diplomatically, and even spreading your culture across the spaceways like some kind of interstellar Roman Empire. The user interface is still terrific, allowing you to keep balls in the air without everything crashing down due to an excess of information.

The heads-up display looks a little cluttered, especially the left side of the screen that tracks vessels, but it lets you avoid micromanagement hell. The main drawback in the core feature set is the continuing absence of a campaign, so you're stuck playing one-off skirmish matches against AI opposition or human players in the online and LAN multiplayer. These skirmish scenarios can take many hours to play, however, depending on the size of the map you select.

Zooming in on battles reveals some incredibly cinematic moments.

While the core of Rebellion remains familiar, the gameplay has been stretched in significant ways. The three races of the earlier Sins games--the Advent, the Trader Emergency Coalition, and the Vasari--have been expanded to six with the creation of Loyalist and Rebel factions for each group. All are tricked out with new capital ships and unique tech. This isn't the typical expansion where each side gets a handful of new ships and guns. There are radical changes here. Vasari Loyalists, for instance, have a hate on for pretty much all other races, and can eat planets. The Vasari Rebels, on the other hand, are more easygoing when it comes to buddying up with other species, and they specialize in nanotechnology.

TEC Loyalists are all about defense, with cheaper starbases and the ability to deploy two of these behemoths around planets, while the TEC Rebels are all about conquest and can ally with pirates and neutrals to go on the offensive. Advent Loyalists are aggressive mind-controllers out to assimilate enemies, whereas Advent Rebels are a little more on the spiritual side and can revive destroyed ships. So you get a lot of replay value courtesy of the many differences in how each faction takes to the stars.

It can get crowded in the vacuum of space.

Extra ship types are some of the best new feature in the game. Massive Titan-class battleships unique to each faction can now be constructed as counters to enemies who might be turtling with starbases, minefields, and gun platforms. Titans are supremely useful when you want to assault a barricaded enemy system. This greatly aids in eliminating the drawn-out endgame that was sometimes a problem in past Sins games, with fleets endlessly smashing into one another in an effort to break defensive logjams. Titans also play into the distinctiveness of each faction. The Vasari Rebels' Kultorask Titan uses the group's nanotech to bleed power from enemy ships, for example, while the TEC Rebels' Ragnarov Titan is a huge rail gun that can shred enemy fleets with targeted and splash assaults.

Despite all of their abilities, Titans are not overpowered. You need to research a lot of tech to enhance their weaponry and damage capability, and move them up in level before they hit their full potential. Even then, Titans need allies, or enemy fleets can whittle them down to nothing. New corvettes, again unique to each faction, are another solution to smash-'em-up battles. Instead of being head-on attack craft, corvettes have the ability to cause damage to foes in more subtle ways, such as by slowing enemy ships, causing them to sustain more damage, or bogging down their repairs. Deploy them smartly, and you can turn the tables in battles even when you're outmanned and outgunned.

Sunsets are different in space.

Artificial intelligence remains impressive. Enemies tend to be aggressive when they need to be and hold back when necessary. The AI isn't perfect, however; you can sometimes draw enemies into attacking before they might be ready by sending a smaller force out to stage a hit-and-run before falling back to a heavily fortified planet with the bad guys in pursuit. This usually results in a full-on assault, which can be played in your favor if you're sitting back with a Titan, some carriers, a few other capital battleships, and a load of cruisers and corvettes just waiting for the enemy to warp in. Otherwise, expect to be challenged early and often.

New victory options also add variety to matches. Where before you had to win through domination (basically obliterating all rivals) or through diplomacy, now your empire can soar to success based on numerous objectives. These conditions further break up late-game stalemates and give players with different tactical preferences the ability to win games without leaving their comfort zones. For instance, the less aggressive can go after diplomatic or tech victories. Warriors can now win without destroying everything in sight, courtesy of new victory conditions that give wins to the faction that annihilates enemy capital planets, occupies a hidden world guarded by a neutral AI fleet, or takes out powerhouse enemy flagships.

KA-BLAMO!

You can also win by simply being allied with a faction that fulfills one of the victory options. All six options can be turned on before launching matches, or you can pick and choose which ones you want. A lot of new flavor has been added with the victory options, so much so that you can't imagine going back to plain old regular Sins after messing around with them.

Visuals have been updated as well, although the general look of the game is the same as it has always been. Everything looks good, but a little dated, as you might expect from an engine that's going on four years old now. The enhancements do result in some epic space battles when zoomed in close, though. Watching colossal engagements is a thrill, especially when you turn off the UI and just watch the spectacle unfold. The engine overall runs smoothly and allows for battles with hundreds of ships onscreen simultaneously without any noticeable slowdown. The exception: occasional frame rate hiccups when zoomed in very tight on capital ships taking and giving heavy beam-weapon fire. Audio effects and music remain the same as before, meaning that you barely notice either, aside from occasionally being annoyed at the limited number of order acknowledgements.

Gosh, that's embarrassing. Hope the folks planetside aren't watching.

Rebellion puts a nice capper on the Sins of a Solar Empire franchise. While this is an excellent game, with loads of new options and an incredible amount of tactical depth, it does show the age of the series. It's hard to imagine the Sins games progressing without a more serious overhaul to move the next release into full-blown sequel territory. Until that game launches, however, you can get your space-empire fix from this outstanding stand-alone expansion, which contains enough ways to conquer a galaxy to tide you over for a very long time.

The Good
Tremendous scope
Combines all of the content from the original game and the expansions
Includes new races, new victory conditions, and tweaks to tech trees
Added ships like the massive Titans and corvettes that wreak havoc on foes
Enhanced visual engine makes everything look better and move more smoothly
The Bad
Expensive for a stand-alone expansion
Still no campaign mode
8.5
Great
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2 comments
Poldek87
Poldek87

I dident know a game like this existed o0 , so if i missed the Original is it ok if i just buy rebelion then ? its a stand alone after all and i am interested in skirmishes only

rrider
rrider

Currently for sale as download at GameFly online for $13.

chopsbenedict
chopsbenedict

missed this coming out forever ago.  My biggest issue with sins was the pirates, it felt like the entire game was spent messing around with what should be a relatively minor facet, rather than a more expansive or tactical approach to your actual enemy in the game.  Is this fixed in this expansion? or should i expect to do nothing but alternate spending all my money bribing pirates or building ships to combat enormous number of weak and unimportant enemies?

mjaddo
mjaddo

not the game for everyone takes alot of geting used to but over all decent.

BenFireFox
BenFireFox

im having much fun in this game :) same as like in the 2008 original one still the titans and slightly changes are a benefit :o so not sure why its rated 0.5 points down

GeneralEpic
GeneralEpic

There are plenty of mods for Diplomacy 1.34. I just downloaded Mealstorm that adds 3 new races and lots of new planets. It also adds a Titan that spawns for free in game.  One truly great mod and it is free. I will soon download the Rebellion version. So try them out, there are many mods available for the Trilogy version and lots on their way for Rebellion. Can’t wait for the Mass Effect 3 mod.

trustc
trustc

this game seriously needs a campaign mode

Vambran
Vambran

My PC can not run this after a certain amount of units are made. Everything starts to slow down real bad no matter where im zoomed in or out. Guess it's time for a new PC.

ShadowRun02
ShadowRun02

hope the AI is good enough since where im living in the multiplayer matches ping is always so darned high!

NoRb4k
NoRb4k

The only retarded thing about this game is that space is limited to a 2D plane around planets. It might as well be a naval battle game. So much fail

tweezzzy
tweezzzy

the only candle HW can hold to SOASE is its deep storyline, plot, and atmosphere surrounding the games SP campaign...which is the only lacking feature in SOASE. otherwise....SOASE absolutely obliterates HW in every way imaginable.

GeneralEpic
GeneralEpic

Great game. The fact that I can now build a fleet to the max without lag is the best ever.

Still, I want Homeworld 3

ramilahate
ramilahate

Why can't they just put a campaign too :(

Frosty3223
Frosty3223

Spoof of Homeworld??? (best space RTS ever made btw, sad that the Relic and Sierra Scrapped the franchise after HW2...)

Redthedemon
Redthedemon

nevermind. answered my own question. this is all hands down thanks to google, one hell of a good seach engine.

Redthedemon
Redthedemon

hmmm quick question do you need the base game to play this or does stand-alone expansion stand for no need for the base game jump on in?

naysay3rs
naysay3rs

this game sucks bcoz it has no campaign mode but if you're talking about online i prepare EVE online...IMO EH'

Rocksteady777
Rocksteady777

Can somebody please help me? This game looks cool, but I need to know: How long are the online matches??

penpusher
penpusher

I love this game, titans can be annoying though, simply because I've found if you manage to get one out before anyone else you can steam roller the opposition without and real resistance and vice versa.

 

And not to mention the serious amount of cash they're asking from those of us who already own every sins expansion. I expected more for £25 than just the games I already own plus rebellions £10 worth of content

herodotus2006
herodotus2006

One minor disagreement with the review, though. Audio to my mind has been improved to a degree where I do now notice it, with new themes added for events, the contruction of a Titan and various other situations. Weaponry also, while looking a lot better with new particle effects sounds much improved over the original. First thing I turned off after sveral hours in 2008 was turn the music....now I'm happy to listen to the thematic variations as the exploration, contruction and inevitable battles unfold.

herodotus2006
herodotus2006

Aside from the pricing (10% was good for me as I did not have "Diplomacy" nut 20% would have been better for those with "Trinity") and the lack of a SP Campaign which the game is begging for, this is as complete a "Sins" experience as I can imagine at this stage. From re-designed tutorials, to minor changes in the way fleets now face off (corvettes darting in and out) to the bigger changes mentioned in the review this akes for a hefty package....IF you don't have "Trinity". I'm happy with it as I only bought "Entrenchment" and barely played that as Vanilla "Sins" had become a tad boring, but the AI (particulalrly on higher difficulties) is excellent, the visuals nicely updated and the mid-to-late game has been improved tremendously. All in all, I couldn't be happier baring in mind that this is a hybrid 4X and RTS, and not a true 4X...."Endless Space" should take care of that.

PaulJA
PaulJA

 @BenFireFox 

Each expansion is basically the base game plus the previous expansions thrown in, that might explain some of the complaints. I don't know if you got a discount if you owned the previous versions but yeah, I can see some people moaning about basically having to buy what they already (partially) owned. Still, it doesn't detract from the fact that overall it's a pretty compelling package and remains so with Rebellion.

Nietzschie666
Nietzschie666

 @NoRb4k yeah, being able to position fleets three dimensionaly would add alot more strategy, AI would probably be totally unable to deal with the constant changing flank attacks...computers are stupid..lol

 

GeneralEpic
GeneralEpic

SOASE is great fun yes, but it is too restricted. Your enemies can only attack you from pre selected points. This makes defending easy and can lead to an unending clash between fleets even with the Titans that were suppose to put an end to this.  Homeworld’s  game play is a lot more fun as you can literally attack your enemy from a 360 degree angle. From the sides, below or above. Fun. Especially when your buddy is screaming over his mike when Battlecruisers start to cut thru his poorly defended mothership from above.  And most important, no freaking fleet tax. I had a simple mod for the Trinity edition that removes fleet tax which increased its awesomeness. Now to get one for Rebellion.

tweezzzy
tweezzzy

 @Frosty3223 go try to play the Complex Simple mod for HW2. it essentially upgrades HW2 into HW3, minus a new engine. trust me, i am a HARDCORE HW fan and i am DYING for HW3....but even so.....SOASE franchise > HW franchise. even if HW3 came out, it would have to compete with SOASE which i dont think it would be able to do, unless they crossed Freelancer with HW. (someone already tried it)

Redthedemon
Redthedemon

@naysay3rs you sound like the kind of person who can't live without a bit of strucure in your life (or games for that matter) but this just a shot in the dark but im guessing you hate minecraft

oflow
oflow

 @penpusher ya they kinda screwed all the people that have been supporting the game from the beginning pricewise. Even with the $10 preorder discount its kinda steep for an expac if you already had the other games.

jayjay444
jayjay444

 @penpusher titens get owned by corvettes when i say corvettes i mean about 50 of them and there cheap as chips.

NoRb4k
NoRb4k

Well, homeworld had 3D battles... which makes, in my opinion, the "quid" of space RTS...

PaulJA
PaulJA

 @GeneralEpic 

While I can see how 3D can enhance some games, I don't quite see that working too well for Sins other than just making battles messier. I'd also like to note if you posted that comment on the official forums ("freaking fleet tax") you'd likely be torn apart by the vets lol. Shrug. To each his own, but I gotta agree with them, the tax is only inconvenient if you're absolute crap at managing what little economy exists in the game.

DarthRN
DarthRN

Agree... Even at $29.99 with the discount, this is overpriced for those that already have the game plus the 2 micro-expansions. I'll wait for a good steam sale before buying it. I'm already playing the game now, and while what's been added is great, it's nothing I'm in a hurry to shell out $30 for. (Stardock is still offering $10 off for previous owners of the game, if you bought it through them.)

y3ivan
y3ivan

 @jayjay444 isnt it easier to command all ships to concentrate fire on the titan

penpusher
penpusher

 @jayjay444 I have seen players onlinet try this. Youre asking for it if you leave you titan by itself which considering how much it costs to build is a fairly stupid thing to do, even if the cost of loosing one is minimal.

Kisalon
Kisalon

 @jayjay444 Actually this depends on which titan... seeing as one of the Titans has an AoE leech ability then 50 corvettes wouldnt do much.

Rocksteady777
Rocksteady777

 @penpusher I've read the entire article (back when I was super excited about the game...), and also you can't save multiplayer battles...

penpusher
penpusher

 @Rocksteady777 erm no, that would just be silly there is a save feature so you can save and continue the match at another point. If you read the review of sins of a solar empire (which this is merely an expansion of) you'll find everything you need to know.

y3ivan
y3ivan

 @penpusher well it depends on the titans upgrade. Some players prefer armour over firepower. But who fight a titan with same fleet size as the defender. Your would need 3:2 ratio to be effective against titan while possibly losing 1/4 of your fleet. Those Advent bombers are quite effective against titan in a swarms.

penpusher
penpusher

 @y3ivan Wasnt talking about capital ships, was refering to doing it against titans. They're capable of taking a lot more fire than caps so the fleet can use the time to go around and whittle the enemy down while the titan draws all the fire. I personally prefer not to sacrifice an entire fleet generally.

y3ivan
y3ivan

 @penpusher o'really? i find that killing all the capital ships before fleeing while sacrificing my frigate is a good trade off especially if the capital ship is had lots of experience. Capital ships cost alot more than frigate.

 

 

penpusher
penpusher

 @y3ivan You can but the problem with having ALL your ships concentrate fire is that while they are engaging that one target the rest of the opposing fleet is free to do what ever it likes to your fleet

 

I've played a couple of games where people have done this only to have the rest of my fleet split and surround them thus killing them

Sins of a Solar Empire: Rebellion More Info

  • Released
    • PC
    Rebellion is the first stand-alone expansion in the Sins of a Solar Empire series.
    8.5
    Average User RatingOut of 260 User Ratings
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    Developed by:
    Ironclad Games,
    Published by:
    Stardock, Kalypso
    Genres:
    Strategy
    Content is generally suitable for ages 13 and up. May contain violence, suggestive themes, crude humor, minimal blood, simulated gambling and/or infrequent use of strong language.
    Teen
    All Platforms