Don't listen to ngtm1r.
For starters, the 'default' graphic settings blow. Reason for that, the game is meant to run on low-end rigs. If you've got the horsepower, crank that baby up to max. The ships are extremely detailed on max. How does this game feel consolized, by the way? Everything from the empire tree, the tech trees, down to how you group your fleets and manage the abilities screams PC. Yes, it's streamlined, and not as in-depth as something like GalCiv2, but the way they refined everything down is amazing. Each of the three sides play different from each other. The TEC are balanced, you're cliche starter race. The Advent sway more towards culture and special abilities, instead of a vast economy and massive fleets. And the Vassari are you're standard marauding space baddies. Their ships are big and powerful, but their culture abilities suck. As for ships having defined roles, well.. ever heard of combined fleets? Theres a reason for the light frigates to be fast, the siege frigates to be useless in space combat, and for capital ships to be literal wrecking balls.
As for the whole customizable deal, the developers tried this. As a matter of fact, it made it very late into development. They scrapped it because it wasn't conductive to the game. They found players being overwhelmed by the options, and spending too much time just making wacky ass ships instead of teching up, expanding their empire, or what have you. They, however, might bring that function back in an update down the road if they can get it to work right.
I'm not trying to be an apologist here, by any means. I want a ****ing singleplayer campaign. The scenarios and multiplayer are fun, but only for a little while. And I am sick to death of the damned pirate bull****, especially against the AI. With other players, it's a fun kind of ebay sniping but thats about it. And the midgame sucks, once you secure a few planets and have a fleet that can secure your boarders and not much else, and all you have to do is tech up, things move a little slow.