Latest Game Reviews

Star Wars: Empire at War Review - PC

8
Gameplay: 8 stars 8
Graphics: 8 stars 8
Audio: 7 stars 7
Multiplayer: 7 stars 7
Innovation: 9 stars 9
Share |
click to view full image
view full
click to view full image
view full
click to view full image
view full
click to view full image
view full
click to view full image
view full
click to view full image
view full

Introduction

Pretty much all of the genres possible in the Star Wars universe have been explored by now. We've had space combat in Tie Fighter, RPG's with Knights of the Republic, FPS in the Jedi Knight series, MMORPG in Star Wars Galaxies and even the humorous in Lego Star Wars. There have been many hits, but also there have been many misses over the years.

In the RTS area for PC, most recently we've seen Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds (2001), a game combining the Age of Empires II engine with the Star Wars story. Prior to this was the rather forgettable Force Commander (2000). These previous games received a generally indifferent reaction by gamers, so Empire of War has a lot to improve on. Also, with so many RTS that have been released in the last few years, is the Star Wars licence enough to save it from being 'just another RTS'?

Gameplay

Empire at War starts somewhere between the events of Episode III and Episode VI, and tries to take a slightly different approach to just your standard RTS. Included are three main game modes – Campaign, Skirmish, and Galactic Conquest.

Skirmish allows you to either play out a single mission on land or space as you attempt to capture local resource nodes, and make a move to exterminate your enemy. This is probably the closest to any other RTS. In the space mode of Skirmish, you start with your own space base, which you can upgrade, and use to build ships to attack your enemy's base. This mode is just individual battles which allows quick bursts of gameplay, and can be played online. It's fun, however is a little one dimensional.

In Galactic Conquest mode, things are more like a strategic interstellar grab for planets, and offers a longer-term goal. Each planet you capture has it's own form of resources and specialisation bonuses, and earns you credits to buy further facilities. If you move into an enemy forces area, you'll have to battle it out on either land or space to gain the planet's resources. There are a number of key goals and mini storylines for the different scenarios included, such as taking out the Death Star, assassinate your enemy leader, or just wipe them off the galaxy. This mode can be played online, and if you've got a bit more time to spend, great to play against others.

Campaign Mode is the single-player focus of the game, and the more unified storyline mode. Rather than trying to focus too much on the standard scenario of just building bases, building armies, and conquering enemy territory, the game expands things into the surrounding galaxy as well. There still is your standard planet-side action for a lot of the game, but intermixed amongst this is the grander goal of managing your empire of planets, and space based grand-combat. Throughout this is a detailed storyline which details Darth Veda's conquest of the ...

(continued next page)