Fans of strategic computer games, specifically the genre known to geeks as 4X (explore-expand-exploit-exterminate), are in for a treat.
Today Stardock, the independent developer and publisher best known for the epic Galactic Civilizations series (think Master of Orion) has released Ironclad Games' Sins of a Solar Empire. The game has been in various phases of beta testing for about a year, and I've had the pleasure of playing it in that form.
Sins is different from stereotypic space 4x, typified by Galciv and MoO, in which a player starts from one solar system and moves over hundreds of turns to conquer the galaxy, in a couple of ways: first, it's played out in real time; second, the scale of operation is smaller and more tactical (think solar system or "star cluster" rather than galactic).
Now, lest you think I'm pushing some real time strategy game requiring the reflexes of a Korean and mad micro skillz upon you, the game is nothing like Starcraft, and in fact plays much more similarly to the 4x style than it does to any button masher. Even in real time, events occur slowly, and the player has the option to pause or slow things at any time. Those who played Timegate Studios' worthy fantasy game Kohan: Immortal Sovereigns, will be right at home. And the scale, while smaller than that of a MoO, is plenty big. Most tasks can be automated and your fleets will react and fight for you if you choose not to tell them what to do. Sins has exploration, planetary and asteroid development, multiple alien races, and a vigorous research and technology system, as a proper space strategy game should.
My only quibble with the game in beta was that it had a rather good but predictable AI, but I understand that's been improved, and Stardock (whose abovementioned game features the best AI ever seen in a 4x) will help Ironclad to polish it further. Sins also features a (completely optional) multiplayer experience, if the AI ever lets you down.
The beta was better than most games at release. I look forward to enjoying the "real" version for years to come.