One phrase: Sins of a Solar Empire.
This game is truly remarkable. Consider it a cross between Civilization on a galactic scale, and the Homeworld series. You can choose between one of three species (Trade Emergency Coalition, The Advent, Vasari Empire), and you carry out the tasks involved in building a galactic empire.
Its pace can range from empire-wide research and inter-system trade negotiations all the way down to a footrace to destroy the enemy’s mothership before it escapes into Phase Space. You can rule your empire from above, managing your planets and conducting politics with an eye on the entire star system’s expanse, or you can follow the intricate manuvers of one your fighters engaged in the defense of one of your planets.
Just when you think you’ve carved out a nice coalition in your corner of the solar system, remote sensors will detect a massive enemy fleet en route to one of your outer worlds. Or, in jumping from planet to planet, your expeditionary forces accidentally stumble upon a pirate outpost and are swarmed in seconds by raider ships.
Alternatively, your resource extractors are raking in an extraordinary amount of crystal early in the game, but just as you try and sell it for massive profits, the crystal market crashes and you’re left holding the check. Or, in a war of attrition, one of your outer worlds and key defense checkpoints suddenly revolts and overthrows your rule, forcing you to retreat or retake the world by force.
It’s amazing. Hours fly by in a heartbeat, and at the worst time: when I’m writing a paper comparing spoligotype analysis techniques, desigining a program to analyze and classify biological images, and conducting research into subcellular protein location.
Hence why I am writing this from the library, far away from my desktop. 😛
Good luck to everyone who is in the midst of finals!