Think Civilization in space, a beautifully crafted and easy to get to grips with 4x4 strategy game that can operate anywhere from small galaxies with two races to a huge universe with 8 factions. The joy in this is the expansion and technological advancement. However, the space combat, while somewhat of a railroad sequence, remains entertaining with a fairly unique 'stance' selection mode where you can choose the tactics your fleet uses.
This game is also has incredible aesthetics, one of it's high points,with the ability to zoom in on planets, ships, the galaxy as a whole has clearly been crafted with love.
IMPORTANT: Get used to this game via a let's play video: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UVGjqDRgc6w&list=PLA980FA7E19F59120
the tutorial system is the long-winded sort and it's far more entertaining and less of a chore to learn by seeing and then doing. This is a must.