Sins of a Solar Empire, while being a few years old, is still one of the best large-scope RTS games on the market. Each time I play, it feels like I'm in charge of a sweeping, epic space opera full of dramatic battles and tough tactical and strategic decisions. Sins of a Solar Empire: Trinity brings players this outstanding title along with each of its expansions, Entrenchment and the newest Diplomacy. This gives new players a perfect opportunity to take the time-eating plunge into this series.
Readers can peruse my review
of the original Sins of a Solar Empire to see my initial impressions, an outlook that has only improved through time. The incredible control scheme remains one of my favorite in any RTS, allowing the orchestration of complex battles on dozens of worlds, all the while building the technological and infrastructural advancements necessary to take players to victory. Sins has stood well the test of time, with strong graphics and audio balanced to allow players with older machines to still enjoy the grand sweep of the game.
I'll spend the rest of my time focusing on the expansions, Entrenchment and Diplomacy, available separately for those who already own the original game. Entrenchment, my favorite of the two expansions, fixed most of my minor quibbles with Sins. A turtler by nature, I found myself hard-pressed to maintain a defensive front on my worlds while striking out for new territory. Entrenchment helped out immensely here, bringing a nice assortment of defensive choices to the party. Most notably, Entrenchment introduced Starbases, massive structures that function like independent defensive fleets when fully upgraded. In addition, the Starbases can also double as various planetary structures, allowing players to build units, repair ships, and even set up trade routes through the proper Starbase outfitting. Starbases are also great on the frontlines, allowing players to gain a foothold on those worlds that are a little too heavily mired in enemy influence to be converted and colonized. Entrenchment also brings about some new units, including anti-structure ships for those wanting to make damaging assaults a bit more readily. Also included are minefields, introduction of a new line of technological advancement, and a few tweaks to the game setup, allowing for some quicker games.
Diplomacy, the latest expansion, allows players to focus on the kinder side of galactic domination. Whereas Entrenchment fit my play style perfectly, it will take me some time to fully embrace all that Diplomacy has to offer. Bringing along yet another tech tree, Diplomacy focuses on the cultural spread, influencing other players and AI opponents, and more efficient dealings with the Black Market and those dreaded Pirates. There are a few new screens of information to wade through to determine inter-empire relations. In addition, players now get to initiate some of those relationship-building missions, rather than always being on the receiving end of things. Even the pirates can be tasked with a mission, should players so choose. There are a lot of new and subtle choices here, which I'm only beginning to appreciate in my early plays through the full Trinity bundle.
Diplomacy also introduces the Envoy class frigate, a ship designed to carry out diplomatic tasks in opponent territory. With the proper technological advances, these Envoys can offer a subtle-but-powerful advantage. Of course, IronClad also brings along more gameplay tweaks and advancements, like options to change the progression speeds of most aspects of the game, additional difficult levels (as if I needed harder opponents), and increased Pirate aggressiveness. Thankfully on that last point, pirates can be disabled at game startup for those who find themselves swamped by hordes of raiders all too often.
As a bundle, Trinity makes a wonderful 4X experience. While many fans will already have the original Sins and/or Entrenchment, for those a little late to the game this offers the perfect entry point. Fans of the series can get fully up to speed by picking up Diplomacy on its own, brining their Sins/Entrenchment title up to date. Either way, the complete Sins of a Solar Empire package continues to be one of the most engrossing 4X sci-fi titles available.