Having played this game since release and recently the expansions, I have to say this is among the best 4X games I've ever played.
The game seems a tad complex, but the underlying mechanics are really quite simple.
The AI is actually quite decent for a 4x game, and the automatic options work surprisingly well, which helps if a first one is a bit overwhelmed by the amount of things to do.
A very good but complex game, the ai helps run your empire so if your new to the game best bet is to start small, take control of 1 ship, maybe r&d until you get the hang of it.
I have tried, twice to download and play distant worlds. When i hit 'play' in the game menu, its proceeds to do 'something ' for tow minutes, then it CTD. Distant Worlds needs a much more robust installer, verifier.