Its old, slow and a bit too complicated.
Its fun, unique and for a 4X type of game, ..decent despite its age.
It has plenty of room to grow as you can easily add your own races with some very simple file placements.
Honestly though, this game is extremely hard to review. You know by now if this is what you want or not based on the genre. Its the standard game but with a sci-fi spin. Its fun, but extremely painfully long and hard. Even if the game is rigged for you to win, you might still lose. I dont play to win though.
Seriously, I dont even know how to explain gameplay or tell you anything about it. It is what it is. I happen to enjoy it.
Would I recommend this game: ..maybe. It is good enough to recommend...but (as previously stated) you probably wont like it unless you like this type of game. Also, its age is a point to bring up, it is old. Very old. If they kept making these games Space Empires XVII would probably be around.
Honestly, you should probably pass this up. Its good, but probably not what you are looking for. I'll recommend it for those who know what they are getting into though. If you think it looks good and you like this sort of thing, its great.