82 of 86 people (95%) found this review helpful 2 people found this review funny
2.9 hrs on record
Posted: July 21, 2014
I had to buy this game again in order to review it. My hours played does not include the older Steam version that isn't sold anymore.
This is hands down my favourite game of all time. Therefore I am actually going to take time writing this review.
Ridiculously deep, engaging gameplay that can allow for 250+ hours for a single large game - a game filled with desperate struggles against merciless and highly adaptable AI in long late-night/early morning sessions. A very nice physics engine allows for some interesting RTS battles with completely customised ships bristling with esoteric weaponry - from the humble red laser to giant space revolvers that shoot asteroids that glass planets.
With a quasi-randomised tech tree system and 6 different races that each play completely differently, it is easy to spend thousands of hours on this game and still not experience everything it has to offer. Multiplayer is just as good - coordinate with a friend or compete against them in 4X/RTT combined gameplay. If you thought multiplayer games of Sins of a Solar Empire or Civ were long, this game is somewhat longer, but rewards you with deep satisfaction during and after play.
Overall it is similar to the Master of Orion series of games if you remember those, but also feels akin to Total War with the RTT combined with turn-based strategy, and the depth of control available during battles. Most of the time you are trying to expand, tech up and survive in a turn-based 4X type strategic map.
However, if one of your ships encounters something hostile, you are given the option to fight manually; this is often very rewarding, you are able to visually assess the ships, including tech level and weaponry, and to also destroy them with extreme prejudice (or not if you prefer). The RTT game engine allows polygon targeting, allowing you to aim shots at precise parts of their ships - snipe off their turrets or shoot out their engines so their inertia causes them to crash into a planet. The level of detail simulated allows for incredibly fun and often unpredictable fights. This is not like Sins, where ships have simple health bars and succumb after a set number of hits; exactly what and where you hit things is of great importance - hit a tanker in the fuel tanks hard enough and be rewarded with a satisfying secondary explosion, sometimes disintegrating the ship and everything small within a large radius.
Visually, it is quite dated now, something that they tried to fix in the sequel, which is somewhat buggy and sometimes broken. However, this original is very well polished, and I would highly recommend this gem of a game to anyone with half a brain and some patience.
If you do end up enjoying it as much as I have, the sequel may be worth trying, but be prepared for a general feeling of lack of completeness that is absent in this original. I wouldn't fault the devs too much for that, Paradox wanted them to release at an incomplete point and it was do-or-die for the studio. It has come a long way since release but the devs aimed a bit too high and fell short. This does not mean it is terrible, much fun is to be had, with a lot of new things to be tried - if you have the patience and an SSD to cope with the *occasional* CTD - (occasional is a relative term).
TL;DR: this is a very good and underrated game, buy it (it is also cheap), play it. Don't buy the second one if you are new to the series unless you are a masochist with too much money.
This is one of the most underated 4X games ive played. Ive put way more than 112 hours into it before i had steam. The combat controls take a bit of getting used to but once you have those nailed this game will eat hours of your life.
Planet management and the tech tree are easy to understand but the tech still retains depth. After an 8 hour long game you will still have lots of tech still to discover. Whilst the graphics are a little dated it really doesnt matter once you are playing and you are immersed. Combat is enjoyable to watch especially when you have 3 massive dreadnoughts trying to face off against an entire enemy fleet.
This is a really solid game one of my favourite random buys ever .Its worth every penny and if you see it in a sale definatly grab it!
57 of 59 people (97%) found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
67.9 hrs on record
Posted: July 22, 2015
I think it's my favorite 4x game by far, and I'm playing it in 2015, the game still holds to modern standards and modding community is still active. This game should serve as a reference for the space 4x genre, it gets everything right and does not try to push fancy and poorly made useless innovations like too many games.
easy to play, hard to master, has much more depth than it appears at the beginning
focusses on what really matters and does not annoy you with useless micromanagement just for the sake of complexity.
interesting real time tactical combat phases where both how you command your fleet and how you designed them matters.
very well designed UI which allows you to play quickly and efficiently.
just enough ship customization, lets you design them for your intended strategy, does not require you to spend hours fine-tuning them.
3D galaxy map which adds real strategic interest and variety to the games.
varied and balanced races with very different travelling methods.
interesting and challenging research tree, partially randomized for every game and player, with random technologies that you may not be allowed to research at all for this game, but have some chance to steal from an enemy.
smart and challenging AI which properly uses diplomacy, however not so good within tactical combat phases.
still active modding community, great mods available to enhance visuals and improve game balance (check my Steam guide ;) ).
the game seems very polished and you will have many pleasant surprises, few bad ones.
straightforward videos + text transcription tutorials, easy to skip parts or quickly read the text if you are in a hurry ...
... but lacks explanations for advanced things, which you need to look up online, such as how planet size, resources and hazard works, how population, industrial output, and income impact each other, detailed game mechanics and weapon damage values, or some useful key bindings (pausing combat, making waypoints in strategic map, speeding up combat, rotating fleet formation, etc.).
RNG can be potentially ruin your game (if you activated random events).
no ship refitting (but that did not bother me that much)
trading system is not great, it requires you to build A LOT of freighters at some point in the game, and when you upgrade the freighter technology you need to rebuild them all. However by becoming at some point the backbone of your economy it becomes of great strategic value and improves the dynamic of the game.
TL;DR: Best space 4x game without aimless overcomplicated features, way better than recently released ones.
47 of 50 people (94%) found this review helpful 1 person found this review funny
0.2 hrs on record
Posted: May 19
BUYER BEWARE: As of May 2017 this game will not work. I Purchased this game on steam and it gave me the wrong CD key, or the game doesn't recognize the key given. There is no way to play this game once purchased that I have found.
The publisher has not replied and given a legitimate code, or fixed the error. There's already a forum post with several pages of complaints and people with legitimate copies that will not work looking for a solution, and after a month there is still no reply from the developers or publishers.
Steam will not make good and refund your money on the game that won't launch if you did not install it and discover this error within the first 2 weeks of purchase. Too bad lemon laws do not apply to video games. They will just take your money and you'll get nothing for it.
44 of 46 people (96%) found this review helpful 2 people found this review funny
86.7 hrs on record
Posted: January 18, 2014
So my friend introduced me to this game as he wanted more friends to play with. It was an old game (relatively) and I expected a few laughs and not much else. I didn't ask for this. I didn't ask for Civilization in space. I didn't ask for all the lore and all the different races and ships. I didn't ask for interesting space combat and with ship by ship construction and pretty high level strategy. They even forced multiple maps down my throat with a tech tree that is randomly generated from game to game! It was horrible. Terrible. I didn't want this.
On a more serious note. The game is fun, as usual especially with friends. Has a pretty good learning curve, interesting races with tons of lore to read. Every race plays different and is interesting in what they are good and not good at. Good mechanics and has actual space battle where you control the ships in 3d space. It can be a bit daunting at times and for some people it might get boring if things get slow. However I very much liked this game. Certainly gave me some sleepless nights staying up to play it. Graphics are solid. No real complaints, though games do tend to go very long.
+/+ Unique take on research. +/+ Simple ship building UI. +/+ First encounters with alien species is handled very well. +/+ All six species have unique play styles and lore as well as provide unique opponents to fight. +/+ Micromanagement decreases with game length. +/+ full 3 dimensional star maps (with many choices included a ‘2D’ star map for those who prefer 2D). +/+ Games are very customizable.
+/- Turn-based star map with real-time battles (kind of like Total War in space). +/- Economy management is relatively simple. +/- Graphics are nothing to write home about (not that important for a 4x strategy game IMO).
-/- SotS lacks a sufficient tutorial and the UI fails to present all relevant information. -/- Sound effects range from average to bad. Some may even find them offensive. -/- Lacks steam features.
Verdict: 8.8/10. SotS is a very impressive and unique take on the 4x genre. The developer managed to create a game design that scales the micromanagement with empire size. The ship design is one of the best I’ve seen in a 4x game (Star Ruler would be my only contender). The game has a steep learning curve and requires some forum reading/let’s plays to gain a moderate understanding of the underlying mechanics. If you are willing to invest the time, you will find a lot to love in Sword of the Stars.
Bought this in April (second copy) didn't have a chance to install it until today and found that I'm having the issue lots of others have.
We aren't getting valid CD codes from Steam so the game won't launch, says
"Invalid CD key you may need to reinstall"
Reinstalling does nothing, I've spent more time trying to fix this than I've actually played it on this steam account. Purpose was to have two copies to play multi player, other one works fine but its a non steam version.
A surprising favorite among 4X games. I've put 90% of my time into this game before getting it on Steam, and I still come back to it now and again. Everything about SotS is cut down to its best aspects; empire management is user friendly and simplified, but still a powerful way to gain an advantage, while combat is straight to the point and engaging. You will never spend twenty minutes meticulously planning your next turn. Instead you'll be rushing to make new designs and push production, scraping together fleets to push your advantage and stave off annihilation.
If this game had better publishing, it would rank among the classics. And once you think you've played it out, just try the ACM mod.