Empire Earth – PC – Review

Civilization games are nothing new to
the world of PC gaming. In fact, even Sierra has published its share of games in
the genre – everything from Acropolis to Homeworld.

So what makes Empire Earth special?
Maybe it’s because is spans 500,000 years of human history, beginning in the
distant past and carrying through to 200 years into the future. Maybe because
it’s high quality graphical elements give a vivid cyber-life to the different
time periods. Maybe because – though the first release from Stainless Steel
Studios – it had the talents of Rick Goodman (the lead designer of Age of
Empires) on the project.

Whatever the reason, this is a game
that, while employing many of the same elements of other civ games, manages to
come across with a freshness that will entreat fans of the genre.

Resource gathering is important to
advancement of your civilization. And you really cannot live in harmony for

There are several different ways to
play the game. You can select an open-ended format, where you pick a
civilization and then try to guide it successfully through the ages. Or you can
play one of the four campaigns (Greek, English, German and Russian) included
with the program. There is a scenario editor, random map boards, a tournament
mode, and multiplayer options (which basically are of the ‘last one standing’

You want heroes? We got heroes …

In a game where domination away from
home is exceeded only by contentment at home, it is wise to have leaders that
the people can look up to, respect, perhaps fear a bit, but will follow. Enter
the hero. In Empire Earth, heroes stand as symbols of the civilization. They
lead or guide troops, and can often make the difference in a battle’s outcome.

Empire Earth allows players to
generate historic heroes at a town center or capitol. There are two types of
heroes: warrior and strategist. One leads on the front lines, one leads from
behind them.

Because the game in translated into
epochs, certain heroes are appropriate for the epoch the game is in. For
example, in the copper age, you can generate either Gilgamesh (warrior) or
Sargon of Akkad (strategist).  As you move into the Bronze Age, you can upgrade
to either Hannibal (warrior), or Alexander the Great (strategist). Get the idea?

The game even has heroes created for
future epochs, like the Digital Age, and the Nano Age. Each comes with a
complete bio so you will be able to choose which hero is the right one to guide
your civilization.

One if by land, two if by sea,
three if by air …

Graphically this game is rather well
done. The three-dimensional environmental graphics read well, and the mapboards
are covered by the fog of war that can only be lifted through exploration. Add
to the many flavors of eye candy the different units – including sea vessels and
aircraft – and you have a visual delight.

If there is a drawback, it is with the
camera zooming in on a scene. The graphics look fine when pulled back, but tend
to get blurry the closer you get to the object of the zoom. And there doesn’t
seem to be any way to rotate the camera to allow a better view of a single
object or citizen. During gameplay a citizen was behind a building that was just
built, in fact, the character was so close to it that it is almost impossible
select the character without selecting the building.

Musically the game is very strong, and
the battle sound effects are well rendered. This program uses narration to
advance the missions and years. At times the narration was well behind what was
happening onscreen, and the voice acting was a little suspect at times.

It ain’t heavy, it’s the manual,
and yes, it is heavy, or at least thick …

The manual, all 238 pages of it are
quite entertaining. It is well illustrated, and does a very nice job of
explaining the fundamentals of the game.

However, if you have played other civ
games, you can use the manual as light reading material only. This game plays
like the majority of the better civ games. The player interface is intuitive and
if you hover your cursor over them, what each button does is explained. You send
citizens of your civilization to work gathering resources by selecting the
citizen, then clicking on what you want them to do. You can group select by
dragging your cursor over the citizens you wish to band together.

To build a structure, pick the
building you wish to construct (assuming, of course, that you have enough
resources to pay for it) and then position it on the revealed map. If the
building is red, it can’t be built there. If it is green, release the mouse
button and workers will begin the construction.

Empire Earth has scope, it has many of
the elements that have made other games in the genre successful, and it has a
nice fresh feel to it all. There are, obviously, subtle differences between this
game and a game like Age of Empires, but the general game play is still there.
This is a solid game that is enjoyable to play.

Install: Easy

This game takes up 407 megs of hard-drive
space, but goes on easily.

Gameplay: 8

Once you are into a scenario, this is
nonstop resource gathering and battle.

Graphics: 7.8

The graphics are terrific from a
distance, but once you zoom in, the graphics become blurry.

Sound: 7.5

The music is very good, but the narration
can fluctuate between very good and very poor.

Difficulty: 8

This game is designed so that players of
other civ games can jump in and play with little help. The AI is extremely well
designed, and if you play at the harder difficulty settings, you will be in for
a rough time. The player interface is designed for easy access.

Concept: 8
The civilization genre is certainly nothing new to the PC world. This product
does add to in several areas, provides a few more challenges than some, and must
be regarded above average in this category.

Multiplayer: 7.5

The game has several options for
multiplayer gaming, but they are mostly of the kill-or-be-killed variety. The
single player game is much more involved.

Overall: 8

This game is very deep, with some solid
graphical elements and, at times, suspect vocal characterizations. This is a
good civilization game, capable of taking on the elite and exceeding them. If
you enjoy this genre, this is a game worth looking into.