This is likely the best space 4x game out there. It's a shame it hasn't gotten more support, because you occasionally encounter some frustrating bugs and oversights (like if a planet with multiple populations rebels against you, it forms a new race with stats identical to your base race, and erases all other sentient species from the planet).
It gives you what you want. Ship design, the ability to make your own society, lots of interesting research, good espionage, an organized and customizable interface, and cool battles (with lots of tactical options, even if missiles+outrunning the enemy seems a bit overpowered).
The diplomacy can be frustrating, due to there being a turn delay and also you not knowing what conditions the AI wants. So anything more complicated than an open borders treaty might be impossible to implement.
I strongly recommend getting Captain Kwok's balance mod. This will make the AI more intelligent and challenging, as well as give you a chance to engage in more fleet actions.
Posted: December 2nd, 2013