I've read all the other reviews on this game and the main two problems people have with this game is the lack of story and that games can be drawn out. One solution to the concerns of game length is to play a small map with about seven planets. I tried this earlier and it took about half hour to win. You can choose to make your own maps or choose a map spanning several solar systems with hundreds of planets. Although that may take a while to complete. You can always save your game and return to it at any time.
The latest patch available from Impulse (free Stardock download client that's not required to run the game or installs any spyware) fixes the problems people here seem to be having with the game. There is a quick start option to help speed up the pace of the game by giving you resource extractors, a capital ship factory and planet upgrades from the start. To further modify the pace of the game, in the game options the speed of ship movement resource income and other options can all be changed. The latest patch also adds new features such as AI improvements, tweaks research and ship abilities and adds memory optimizations.
A major feature of the patch is the ability for ships and structures to target more than one ship at a time. For example one of your capital ships could be attacking an enemy capital ship whilst fending off smaller ships using the side mounted guns. This addition makes the space battles even more intense. This also improves the star bases in the expansion which enables them to be even more deadly.
There will probably never be a story for this game unless it's in the third expansion (see below) but do you really need one? If you care that much about a few voiceovers and lists of objectives then don't buy this game. The developers focused their time on creating a great game that is a joy to look at and play. It will play well on just about any system my specs are:
Intel Pentium 4 2.66Ghz
1 GB Ram
Nvidia 7600GS 256Mb
Not exactly the best system on the market as it's nearing 6 years old. I can still turn all the settings pretty high up and have a great looking game. Zooming into individual units to follow them as they fight then zooming out so you can see the whole map in less than a second is breathtaking.
The first micro expansion for this game has just been released it's only about £6 to download off Impulse. It adds star bases for all three races, deployable mines, new research, new ships, new graphics, sounds and more. There are a further two expansions coming out this year, the second focusing on diplomacy and the third is unknown, could be a story mode or it could be a new race.
I would recommend this game to anyone who is a fan of RTS games. The multi-player supports up to ten people online or offline and is great with a few mates. No subscription fees to play online and people without the expansions can still play with everyone. If you are ever stuck or need help the forums are friendly and helpful.