But the battles themselves don't have much in terms of tactics going for it. What I don't like most about it is that you only have a limited number of ships in a fight, and any "extra" in your fleet get used as reinforcements. So if you build 50 cruisers, depending on your research and CnC ships (Command and Control), you might get something like 8-10 of them into a fight. As they get destroyed, their replacements jump in. So the scale of the battles is much, much smaller than Sins. You can, with proper research, organize your ships so that you control what jumps in (so you can have your CnC cruiser in the middle, with heavy damage cruisers as your line ships and a few to flank, and throw in some Point Blank destroyers for anti-missile protection if the enemy is using missiles). Otherwise, it usually jumps the last thing you want it to jump in - like all your refinery ships so you lose your ability to fuel when they get blown up, or all your CnC ships so you lose the ability to field more ships in a fight.
They do look nice, though, especially when you research some of the higher end weapon techs, and there are many different weapons. Gauss turrets (projectiles), lasers, missiles, torpedoes, beams, so on. Each of these has different variants, too. Projectiles might have AP Rounds, or Sniper Rounds. Then there are 3 sections to each ship, with research to unlock new ones. There's the forward section, the backbone, and the engine section. Bigger ships have more mounts and more turrets per mounts, and the different sections of each type have different amounts, too. And the bigger the ship, the more sections you need to destroy to blow it up, each section has its own hp and you can direct your ships fire on a particular section - so if the enemy is using a heavy missile boat middle section (those hurt, trust me, as the missiles don't miss), you'd probably care about taking that out before the engines.
For example, you can research a destroyer (the smallest ship) mid-section that lets you house a single Large weapon (like a torpedo), so you can use them as light bombers against heavy ships. Or you can keep to more regular hulls and then have more mounts to put Point-Blank defense turrets on it to make a nimble anti-missile/torpedo ship. There are sections for salvaging, repair, refueling, deflectors, all sorts of stuff.
The game is most definitely worth the price, however. The combat is simpler but it still does not disappoint. And at the top level it has a similar structure to a Total War game - you have your strategic map where you manage your empire, and then each battle can be fought in tactical mode or auto-resolved. It's not full TBS and it's not full RTS.
Oh, one more thing.. the map in the strategic layer is fully 3D. That is to say, it can be pretty disorienting because it's hard to gauge distances without lots and lots of camera rotation so you can try and see just where that planet is in relation to you.