Empire Earth is for a good long while!
So, the time has come to write a review to Empire Earth. I should say that to write a review of the release version, after the review for beta-version was posted, is quite hard. The developers were in earnest about making the game, so, even at the early stages it was remarkable for its high reliability if compared with other games of this genre: As a result of it, not too many changes were added to the final, release version, and in the previous review for the beta-version we covered this game quite widely.
As it has been already noted, Rick Goodman has based this game on his own creation - Age of Empires - taking it to the 3d world. In general, EE gameplay is similar to that of AOE; the only difference is that it was improved "in the right places".
The core of the game, which is similar to that of Age of Empires, is to build as many settlements near mines as possible, as well as to 'make' peasants, upgrade units and build new structures. In EE one must fight for domination not only on the land but in the sea and in the air as well. The ladder of success is to find the golden mean between development of the infrastructure and armaments build-up as soon as possible.
Economical component is presented with a possibility to build different kinds of factories for manufacturing water/underwater, land, and air units as well as magical ones. In EE you can find many units from spearmen, swordsmen, and horsemen to stealth-fighters, submarines and huge Mechs. As in AoE, development of civilizations comes from the Stone Age to the epoch of nanotechnologies. Each epoch has its own bonuses: discovery of granary, hospital, gunpowder, and many others. Upgrade of units as well as transfer to the next epoch happens with a wave of a magic click on a certain icon. Although, it should be noted that some iron, food, gold, wood and other resources are still necessary for such transfer.
Mining system is still the same - crowds of peasants are running between mines and settlements. It's nice to see that units and buildings are changing their appearance when transfer from one epoch to another happens.
It's not easy to survive in this world too long as far as AI is quite powerful. It develops very quickly: moreover there is no need for your computer opponent to drive camera from place to place for efficient rule over its kingdom. That is why you'll have to practice in "fast mouse clicking", and you'd better store up an extra mat for this strategically important device.
The really nice thing in EE is that the system of control is well thought-out and very convenient. Here one can use such a convenient feature as a panel for easier control under groups of units, together with auxiliary buttons for searching for idlers and many others. The camera control is not very convenient though: it can move in the only path.
For every building one can assign points where just created units will go to right after seen the light of the day. Fore example, for airfields one can assign points of bombing raids and just created planes will start bombing those areas without any additional orders.
Each unit can carry out several orders: patrolling own possessions, explore outskirts. An aircraft carrier, for example, can produce fighters on its board like the similar unit from Star Craft. The player can define how each unit must behave while on the battlefield; the player also can choose the formation for his/her troops. Unfortunately, formation in EE does not play a large part. Battles are still a typical butchery in the style of RTS when the one who has more units is winning.
Like in AoE, in this game one can erect the wonders of the world - huge buildings giving special abilities to the race. And sometimes they can be a half of your victory. As to unique abilities of the races then here EE has been enhanced. You have a possibility, by distributing 100 points among different features, to make your race unique. For example: your ships can be faster and stronger, your cannons can have a longer range, and your peasants can mine more gold. Set up of special features is a quite important element of the development strategy!
The most interesting events are taking place during the modern times, when the map will be overwhelmed with fighters, rocket carriers, tanks, marines and so on. When the cyborgs appear, EE is turning into a funny analogue to Mech Commander. Explosions of atomic bombs, burning torches of falling fighters, bursts of aircraft bombs and cluster shells will impress you! It may seem strange, but during the whole game one can create 'mages' who are able to gain over enemy soldiers, evoke storms and earthquakes. While there are a lot of spearmen running about such a unit blends with the general concept, but when this very unit attack a submarine: it can make you laugh, while the spelled storm can make enough problems for the submarine though!
In EE one can win by way of diplomacy, trivial elimination of the enemy or by building certain number of the wonders of the world. Then you'll be showed a graph (similar to that of Star Craft) with numbers of mined gold, killed enemies and mouse clicks [sic!].
In short, that's the way EE is. I did not say a word about campaigns and sceneries yet though. Here EE is more enhanced then Age of Empires. Campaigns resemble a quest game more then a war one though. Each mission is accompanied with dialogs of characters and funny script scenes. The game is presented with four campaigns: you can play for the English, the Greeks, the Germans and the Russians. The way how the developers see the future is: let's say, quite interesting: I thought that the time of the Cold War has passed, but the Russians are still not far from being the Empire of Evil :) It's kind of naive, banal and trivial, isn't it?!
According to the authors of the storyline, right after the civil war a new leader of New Russia would have almost brought the entire world to its knees. Meanwhile his foes, like in Red Alert, would be traveling into the past to kill 'our' leader. So, in one word, EE storyline guarantees a big bunch of fun.
To this entire one can add the powerful editor of maps and Sierra's net service around Europe and America. So, I dare to assure you that rival to EE will be very envious of the game's success.
Music and Sound: 8.5/10
Interface design: 8/10
Mission/map design: 7.5/10
Storyline originality: 8/10
Multiplayer mode: 9/10
Total score: 8.3 (The hit it will be!)
- Yuri Bushin (Yurg-Aga)