I have been playing this game for a while now, it has grown into such a great game. The developers really shine in their skill, communication, and direction. Right now it is like an uncut diamond. You can see the potential in the game, but it might not quite be there yet. If you are looking for a finished or mostly finished game, this is not yet for you. Since I bought the game, it has been drastically improved, both functionally and with new content.
For your benefit, here is my take on a few features the game offers
Sorry charlie, not yet. If you play the game, you will see why its not ready, the engine is not finished and the balance is a bit off.
AI, multiple opponents
The AI saw some improvements after the game launched to Beta. Now, they attack each other and expand more often. Additionally, every race and pirate uses stronger ship designs and upgrades their fleets as they research new tech. The early game is much more brutal, simply building 10 of the default attack design won't cut it it anymore. You'll find the most challenge in this game playing against Very Hard AI, having Total War selected, and selecting a race with a low likeability.
Standard researching. No real thoughts on this, its nothing to scream about, but its not bad either. To summarize.. Three tech trees, military, economy, science. Military has weapons, ship modules, and fleet and ground attack buffs. Economy has money and diplomacy buffs and a few economic buildings. Science allows you to colonize worse conditioned planets, terraform, buff science production, and has a few buildings.
Its a rudimentary system currently, but it has already seen some major improvements. Currently there are 4 hull sizes available from Scout up to Capital. Your different ship parts have weights and can only be placed in certain predetermined spots.
Ships and space combat
Use shipyard planets to build ships. Then conquer the galaxy. Space combat is psuedo turn based. Each player takes a turn with his whole army and attacker goes first. You can move a ship, then move another ship, then come back to your previous ship and attack with it. I like to move all my stuff then attack with it. There is automatic combat resolving, but like most 4X games you can do much better when you control combat manually.
Random Events, Minor Races, Pirates, Espionage, Diplomacy
There is a decent amount of variety but like any game if you play enough you will see it repeat a lot. Someday they are going to add in Race specific story line events, the race backgrounds (detailed in the manual) are quite good, but that story is not yet integrated with the game. The game offers espionage and diplomacy. These features are being worked on and have seen some improvements over the last few months.
Game graphics and performance
The graphics are beautiful. The camera angles are not great yet, but you can see that your able to zoom into fine detail and it still looks good. The developers recently said on the forums that their intention is to make combat more cinematic so it feels more exciting, you can see already that they will be able to pull that off
Some of the sound effects are much louder than others, so occasionally you will jump at some sounds (like a missile exploding or when you deliver any of the speeches). The music is deliciously good in this game, I never noticed it until the Beta launch reset my settings to default.