PC REVIEW: STAR WARS EMPIRE AT WAR
On land, the objective is to take control of the major buildings while combating various ground troops. The number of units that you can deploy and use in battle is determined by the reinforcement points that you control. You will be affected by such things as the terrain and the weather. Enemy troops may take cover behind hills, dunes, rocks and other obstructions while heavy rains and snowfall not only reduce visibility but affect the accuracy of your weapons.

On the planet you will be able to construct turrets, amour generating systems and healing stations for wounded troops. You can even direct bombing raids if you have a fleet of ships hovering over the planet. One thing that you'll notice with the land battles is that the AI isn't as much of a threat as they are in space. The AI sends units running toward you which makes it easier to pick them off before they can do the same to you. They do have some ranged capabilities which puts you in some form of danger so it's not a total cakewalk but once you take over the majority of buildings you will gain more control of the planet and its resources allowing you more places to take cover and more access to more troops and weapons. The AI doesn't try to force you into areas where more troops are hidden in an attempt to ambush you. This technique is reserved for space battles. They will attack where you are most vulnerable which you will have to give them some respect but you can usually counter this easily by identifying and fortifying your weaknesses.

There is a good assortment of hero units. They are very powerful and should be protected at all costs. They act like bonus features and aid in everything from strengthening attacks to saving you money on construction. R2D2 and C3P0 can hack into computer systems and turn some of the enemy's weapons system against them. Palpatine and Mon Mothma, allow you to create more buildings using less resources and money. Darth Vader commands the Death Star and can destroy entire planets. These heroes can be very valuable to you and while they are not easy to kill, they will be sorely missed if destroyed by negligence.

Modes include the Campaign Story mode, Galactic Conquest and Skirmish modes. The Campaign is the epic mode that plays out like a movie. The events of this mode take place prior to the very first Star Wars movie, which is the fourth one in the series. The Galactic Conquest mode has less of a story and offers various options such as the ability to limit money earned, weapons systems, the number of available planets and the length of the game. Skirmishes are short, single battles and although you can play all these modes online, Skirmishes appear to be the favored online flavor. You can play the Campaign mode with one other player online but you're going to be in for a long game. Fortunately you can save it and upload it in its entirety anytime.

Not only is this a great game but like most Star Wars videogames, the production values are beyond reproach. The game looks fantastic. The camera offers an amazing panoramic view of outer space and can be zoomed in to highlight the smallest of details. The trademark Star Wars laser sounds zip, zing and zap from speaker to speaker. The music is lush and empiric as it drives you into battle. The voiceacting is the third addition to the aural component of the game. The good acting quality helps to affirm that we are enveloped in the Star Wars universe.


Features:

  • Wage war on ground and in space - battle it out in space and then send down your remaining forces to invade the planet.
  • All action is persistent - every decision affects the next battle and, ultimately, the fate of the galaxy.
  • Real-time strategy (RTS) 3D gameplay set in more than 25 ground and space locations in the Star Wars galaxy.
  • Begins several years before the events of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope and including vehicles and locations from both the classic timeframe and Episode III.
  • Play as the Rebels as they amass their forces and work to thwart the plans of the Empire, or serve the Empire and crush the Rebellion at its roots.
  • Visit a variety of different planets and space areas including Yavin IV, Tatooine and Dagobah - each with its own specific advantage and/or resource.
  • Construct more than 15 structures, including space stations, factories and cantinas.
  • Deploy more than 20 ground-and air-based vehicles from giant Star Destroyers and Mon Calamari cruisers to swift speeder bikes and X-wings.
  • Access a variety of ground troops, including stormtroopers, Rebel soldiers and hero characters like Obi-Wan and Darth Vader, who can be enlisted and brought into key battles.
  • Multiplayer includes two-player campaign mode and up to eight-player online skirmish modes.
  • All-new game engine created by Las Vegas-based developer Petroglyph, composed of industry veterans responsible for classic RTS titles.

By Mike Chasselwaite
CCC Freelance Writer

Rating out of 5
Star Wars: Empire At War (PC)
4.9
Graphics
If the graphics were any better I would be looking out my window to make sure I was still on Earth.
4.8
Control
The interface really helps you with making sound decisions. There is a lot to keep track of and it can help you to automate some of these tasks. Commanding the Death Star, or attempting to blow it up, are the highlights of the game.
4.8
Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Like a good toupee, there isn't a hair out of place in the audio component of the game. Not to mention that it's very believable.
4.0
Play Value
With the multi-player modes you won't be getting tired of this game for lightyears.
4.5
Overall Rating - Must Buy
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
2
Preview By Devin
Imagine finding a story that you fall absolutely head over heels for, a story that involves wizards and pirates, a princess and a young man who has become the last hope for a dying society. You become so enthralled in the story and so much about the characters that you feel you should be a part of that story. Needless to say, I'm talking about Star Wars, and almost every Star Wars fan has once said "Man, I wish I could do that."

With LucasArts' new Real Time Strategy game, now you can.

I'm not going to bog you down with the technical aspects of the game. No, I won't waste your time talking about the 3D graphics on a 2D plane, making space combat gameplay a similar experience to sticking your hands into a tub of butter, so silky and smooth. Here I go sounding like a bad infomercial, but I want to talk to you today about what will make this game fun, and point out some of the aspects that will make all of us Star Wars fans say "Man, I want to do that."

One of the first things people think of when they think Star Wars is the Death Star, and rightly so. Unfortunately no Star Wars licensed game has given you the ability to control this technological terror. Star Wars Battlefront came close; if you conquered two galaxies in a row you could call in the Empire's super weapon to destroy a planet. With Empire At War, you will be able to control the Death Star as if it were one of your everyday stormtrooping units.

When you call that big bad oscar in, a countdown will begin. This countdown is just like it was in A New Hope, your Death Star must clear it's path of destruction and once it has a clear shot, boom boom time. At the same time, you shouldn't be too proud of that technological terror as it isn't without its weaknesses. As the Empire, you will have to fight off those pesky Rebels and protect your ball of doom.

While staying on the path of similarities to Battlefront, you will be able to call in Star Wars "heroes" to assist you in battle. Right now it is confirmed that both Obi-Wan Kenobi and Darth Vader will all be available as units in your military. You'll be able to call in these heroes and use their skills as you see fit. A screen shot provided shows a whole troop of Stormtroopers firing at a single Jawa, while Vader hacks away with his lightsaber at another lowly Jawa. Brutality!

All the little kinks and quirks in Star Wars Empire At War are still being ironed out, so some details still aren't tacked down. Like can you build another Death Star if it is destroyed? Or how often can you use these Star Wars heroes on the battlefield? Shoot, I'd just send in Vader to clean house while I sick back and sip a cup of joe.

Regardless, so far Empire At War not only looks amazing but it looks to be redeeming the Star Wars RTS franchise. Set your targeting computers to February 2006 for Star Wars: Empire At War.

Preview By Devin

LucasArts has been on a roll as of late. Now it looks like once again LucasArts will rehash the classic stories of the Star Wars trilogy only this time the game will be a huge RTS game. I only used the word rehash because lets face it they certainly have made enough games about the old Star Wars and even the new Trilogy I won't even say anything about the quality of the new movies. After all this is a preview not my own personal soapbox. I will warn you know this is a first look preview and I can only post the info and features that where announced. I will be following this up with a larger update as soon as we get all the game features and details.

This one is a bit different in several ways. Not just in the fact the story takes place in between Episode III and Episode IV for those who may not know or have lost track that would be the 1977 mega-hit Starwars the first movie. Now it will have vehicles and other well-known characters and even places from Episodes IV-VI. If you are reading this and are confused don't feel bad so was I.

It looks like the storyline will somehow explain this and it will all make sense. Hey lets be honest it's going to be thin then again if the game plays as good as the early screen shots I don't think fans will care. It will also be a RTS game as a stated yet; the game is going to be unlike any other RTS game ever made. In short the developers are some of the makers of the genre and they are about to change things hopefully for the best.

So far from the PR info the game will be like any other RTS as far as building up your troops and strong holds as well as vehicles etc. However that is where the new changes kick in after a battle you will keep what is still in one piece and won't need to replace everything for the next battle. It sounds decent and a good idea fans of RTS games are touchy and so are Star Wars fans. When it comes to facts and the way the game is played or looks etc. Will the new RTS game be a hit? Probably so take a look at the early screen shots and you will see some nice shots and impressive graphics. I don't even know how many players the game will support or if there will be an online mode yet.

The game is set for a 2005 release how is that for setting the date? Hey don't blame me like Vaughn has said, "a picture is worth a thousand words" So here is several thousand words in one shot. I will say while the game has some holes in the story and overall gameplay so far it sounds very interesting. I will have more details on this one as soon as we get our hands on it!

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best