Distant Worlds: Universe - The definition of a true RT4X, but not a game for everyone.
I feel as though this review doesn't do the game justice, as I highly enjoy this game. That said, there are things about it that most gamers would have trouble with, despite Distant Worlds generally being a good game.
Gameplay-wise, Distant Worlds is extremely deep. The tech tree is enormous and even makes logical sense. Basic gameplay is very similar to an RTS, while the amount of control you have over every aspect of your empire goes down to the very designs of your ships. This may seem too deep, but you can automate anything you don't want to have to deal with - you can even basically let the AI take over for you while you watch if you want.
Graphically, the game is a bit dated, though it will look familiar to people who have played older RTSs and indie 4Xs. There's not much to say here, as it's a 2D game without too many graphical frills. However, I'm kinda glad the graphics are so basic - there's so much going on in this game that 3D graphics of any sort would kill even modern GPUs.
The soundtrack is something I could gush over for days, but I'm not going to. It basically varies from cinimatic to orchestral classical, and even a bit of monophonic chamber classical (though it all meshes together very well). One thing, however, is that the entire soundtrack plays at all times, so you may end up with peaceful exploration music during a brutal war, or a high-intensity battle theme while you're peacefully exploring the galaxy.
Quality-wise, this game is all over the map. On one hand, the game runs surprisingly smoothly for what can be considdered the biggest RT4X ever made in terms of map size. On the other hand, there are parts of the game that don't feel finished, particularly the system used for ground combat.
One thing to note: This game has a steep learning curve dispite all the automation features. Mistakes will hurt, and they will hurt HARD.
The Bottom Line
Gameplay: 9/10 - Deep, almost too deep in fact.
Graphics: 5/10 - Nothing special, but there's no slowdown.
Soundtrack: 10/10 - Incredible
Quality: X/10 - I can't give a rating in this category, as the game is all over the map here.
Overall: 8/10 - A little rough around the edges, but definately a solid entry in the RT4X genre.
Recommended for: Fans of RT4Xs, people who liked Civilization but were bored by how simple it was
Not Recommended for: The average gamer.
P.S. Pirates suck