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Platform

PC

 

Genre

RTS

 

Publisher

Sierra

 

Developer

Mad Doc

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

Q3 2002

 

 

- More for Empire Earth fans to do

- Some graphical upgrades

- Lots of new elements

 

 

- Iím still not finished EE, why do I need an expansion?

- New elements donít have a drastic effect on gameplay

 

 

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Empire Earth: Art of Conquest

Score: 6.8 / 10

 

Letís all gather around and philosophize about expansion packs Ė why we need them, the reasons behind their creation, what makes a good expansion, why some expansions fail and others succeed. Donít want to? I donít either but Empire Earth: Art of Conquest (AoC) really makes me think about expansion packs in general.

 

empire-earth-art-conquest-1.jpg (246734 bytes)          empire-earth-art-conquest-2.jpg (160234 bytes)

 

Good expansion packs donít come along often but when they do gamers notice. (Yuriís Revenge and Homeworld: Cataclysm spring immediately to mind.) Then there are other expansion packs that fizzle (such as the lamely titled, Star Trek Elite Force Expansion Pack) or worse besmirch the good reputation of the game itís supposed to complement. AoC doesnít exactly bring any shame or disgrace to Empire Earth (EE), but it doesnít do anything to make itself a must have for EE fans. That being said, most EE fans will like what AoC has to offer.

 

Three new campaigns (WWII, Roman Empire, and Space) and one new Epoch, a couple more heroes, and a smattering of new units and buildings highlight AoC. Itís not a mind-blowing amount of stuff Ėmuch better than what Elite Forceís Expansion Pack added Ė but when gamers are expected to pay $30US for it there might be some bitterness.

 

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Unless, of course, youíre one to appreciate graphical upgrades. Smaller touches have been given more attention, such as more detailed terrain markings (tank tracks, etc.). But the improvements are marginal (unlike Half-Lifeís graphical upgrade) and if you spend more time looking at the scenery maybe you should be playing Virtual Gardener.

 

There are problems with AoC and one of the more annoying ones (besides 

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the occasional bug) is that all the cutscenes are still in-game (just like EE). This can result in dialogue being totally drowned out by battle sounds or the action stuttering along because everything is zoomed in (at least on my PC).

 

Another niggling detail was that I still hadnít totally "finished" EE. I know only a handful of people that have actually finished EE all the way through (i.e. all Epochs and Campaigns). Iím not one of them, although Iím close Ė probably about 85% done Ė because, unlike Elite Force which many criticized as being too short, EE is one massively long game from beginning to end. Why even bother with an expansion when the bulk of the audience is still working on the original game? I brought the issue up with two EE gamers to find out.

 

empire-earth-art-conquest-3.jpg (247748 bytes)         empire-earth-art-conquest-4.jpg (164672 bytes)

 

Gamer "A" applauded Mad Docís efforts. Gamer "B" didnít see what the point was. Gamer "A" liked the new units, the meteor storm calamity, and the new civilization specific powers, while "B" pointed out historical inaccuracies of the island hopping techniques used in the WWII scenarios (in the Pacific theater). They went back and forth in the argument without really getting anywhere or reaching an agreement. AoC has two camps: the fans and the blasť. Which doesnít mean a damn thing Ė except confirmation that no two gamers are alike.

 

But it all comes down to one question: Is AoC worth buying? The stock answer is, of course, "That depends." If you like the mostly coherent structure of Campaigns, take it for a whirl. But there are lots of free add-ons floating around the Internet (without the extras that AoC has to offer). For me, since Iíve yet to totally conquer EE, Age of Conquest seems a little wasted. It plays and handles just like Empire Earth and thereís a host of new additions, but with a game as big as EE, why even expand?

 

- Omni

(October 21, 2002)

 

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