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Real-time Strategy



VU Games



Mad Doc



T (Teen)



April 26, 2005



- Ridiculously rich in variety of strategic elements

- Lost of historical information

- Loaded with smart options



- Graphics are average

- Only minor differences between civilizations

- Long learning curve



Review: Empire Earth (PC)

Review: Empire Earth: Art of Conquest (PC)

Review: Empires: Dawn of the Modern World (PC)

Review: Empire Earth III (PC)

Preview: Jagged Alliance: Back in Action (PC)



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Empire Earth II

Score: 8.5 / 10


Empire Earth II is likely one of the richest real time strategy games I have ever played. There is an abundance of strategic elements to the game that on their own would serve to be enough material for two games. It's a credit to the developers that all the options, features and design elements do not bog down the gameplay and instead enhance it in almost every way. Having not played the first game, it took me a while to warm up to Empire Earth II (EE2) as it is a little overwhelming at first having all these strategic elements to learn and remember.


empire earth 2 review          empire earth 2 review


Empire Earth II is a real RTS gamer's game. In that, I mean the game caters to the more advanced player and those familiar to the genre. However, with the tutorial and with enough patience, the game has been designed such that some of the more advanced strategic elements need not be fully exploited in order to enjoy and be successful in the single player campaign. A wide range of difficulty settings also makes the gaming experience that much more resistant to any frustrating situations. The game follows the course of history through 15 epochs. The single player campaign follows three different civilizations over three time periods. Epochs 1 through 5 follows the creation of the Korean empire. Epochs 6 through 10 follows the rise of the Prussian empire to what would eventually become the German empire. Around the time of WWI, for epochs 11 to 15, you follow the American empire which takes you into a fictional future.


The basic RTS elements are all there with the focus being on militaristic domination. You have buildings that are required to support your army, and the gathering of resources. There are peasants that gather the resources and build your buildings for you. I state that the focus is on military domination because although there are many other aspects to the game, the overall design of the game, though ingenious in all its features and options, still offers the same basic principal of imperialism through military might. There are other aspects to the game that I will go into further, but these aspects tend to support the military aspect of the game. Also, the scenarios and game modes that attempt to focus on the other features of the game tend to fall flat as they are less exciting to play, although still challenging in their own right.


To begin, the maps are divided into territories which can be only controlled by one player at a time. Each of these territories allows you to build a city center which is the focus of your town. Each territory that is controlled by a player increases their population limit. This is important as in most missions you will need a large army to accomplish your goals of domination and territorial acquisition. This is one of the key aspects of the game and is a major strategic challenge. Once you acquire 




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territories, it can be difficult to hold on to them as you must defend your land on several fronts. This can make for some great battles with strategic feints and devastating counter attacks especially when playing against human opponents. Capturing territories requires you to own a city center and a fortress on that territory. You have the option of capturing these buildings with your infantry units, or of destroying any occupying buildings and then having your peasants build your own buildings.  



There are quite a variety of military units and each one has a strength against another type of unit and a vulnerability to a different type of unit. While I can see the logic in such a design decision, normally, I abhor having this strategic element shoved in my face as I'm forced to try and memorize what units to produce in order fend off an enemies attack. However, EE2 has made this simple and painless. You can select a unit's preferred type of enemy to attack. This saves you from constantly having to tell your spearmen to attack your opponentís cavalry and is an invaluable little feature. Other features available to aid you in the management of your military units are the ability to group your units, and the ability to customize their behavior and formation. While these features are generally available in most other games, the level of customization offered by the combined orders you can issue your units is truly astounding. This is the type of attention to detail you can expect from the game and this is just one of the great features that is sure to please seasoned RTS gamers.


On top of the general military units, there are the support units such as healers, explorers, traders and of course peasants. One of the more interesting units is the spy. Spies are used to sabotage enemy buildings and to perform other actions that can greatly hamper a player's territory while not blatantly destroying everything in that player's territory. Spies can only be spotted by certain buildings and units so, with some careful direction, spies are a great support unit and are awesome in seriously messing with your opponents normal operations. A couple of the single player campaigns attempt to focus on this aspect of the game but these missions are slower than the other more straight forward missions. However, credit must be given to the designers in their attempt to create a more unique mission type than simply have the player trying to obliterate everything on the map that isn't your color.


empire earth 2 review          empire earth 2 review


The game offers a lot of different civilizations to play as and civilizations are further grouped into regional culture types. While the different civilizations are not really that different, the different epochs offer new units and upgrades. Each culture group has a unique timed power that lasts 60 seconds that can be used at the player's discretion. This power can only be used when fully charged and using the power uses up its full charge. Each culture type also has a unique bonus and a special building that they can construct which grants another bonus. One thing unique to each individual civilization though is its special unit as well as one more additional unique attribute. Despite these differences, the different cultures end up feeling similar and remembering your opponents advantages as well as your own advantages can easily become something that you overlook.


The technologies that you can research in the game are available to you based on whether or not you have the required building to research that technology, and the required amount of technology points. Technology points are created by having your peasants in your University and priests in your temples. Technologies are broken up into Imperial, Economic and Military categories and each category has a choice of four different improvements to research. Once you have researched at least 6 technologies you can advance to the next epoch at the cost of a significant amount of technology points. This presents an interesting option for players as they can choose to continue to stay in an older epoch and research more technologies or advance to the next epoch and forego some of the available technologies in order to take advantage of the next epoch's more advanced units.


Another great aspect of the game is the Crowns that you can win during the game. These are like the technologies are the Imperial, Military and Economic crown. By focusing your research in technology in a certain area and by playing to that type of style, you can win a Crown which will allow you to pick a special ability for a limited duration. For instance by researching all of the economic technologies and having more trade routes and more resource collection than an opponent, you would win the Economic Crown. You would then be allowed to choose from a selection of special abilities that would last for a limited time. Once that power expired, the Economic Crown would once again be up for grabs. These can really come as a great boost when you are in trouble, or can turn the tide in a tough stalemate or war of attrition. Capturing a crown will also grant you a leader unit that grants bonuses and is a more powerful unit.


Yet another strategic element that is simply fantastic is the management of your peasants and resource gathering. It's as if the designers knew that managing your peasants and the resources they gather would be a pain so they provided the tools to make this as easy as possible. You are able to quickly assign any idle peasants to gather a certain resource and are, by viewing a full size map with all of the resources on the map, able to assign where they will collect that resource from. Another ingenious feature, this turns out to be a great time saver and further streamlines the game. The great thing about all of these features is that they are options to make your life easier. You don't have to use them, but the fact that they are there, makes things so much easier for those ready to take advantage of them. Some of the other full size map management options available to you are maps that allow you to make war plans with any allies, and maps that allow you to see your territorial control. Another option available for your use is the picture in picture mini screen which allows you to set and view important areas of the map where you can jump to quickly and monitor the activity there.


With all of these features and options that all serve to streamline the gameplay, the very aspect which these all serve to enhance is the one area where a great innovation and breakthrough in enjoy ability is not made. While definitely solid, while playing the game, I did not feel that EE2 offered something truly unique. Sure the innovations and features were absolutely fantastic and from a design point are sharp as a whip; the core gameplay after all is somewhat plain. While not a fault, as this core is as solid as can be, it's akin to the difference of a 500 horsepower Honda Civic versus a Ferrari. They both have the horsepower but in the end, the Honda is still a commuter car. Similarly, EE2 has all the features, options and design decisions to make a stellar game, but the core lacks the innovation to propel it into the stratosphere of classic RTS gaming. While certainly a great game and worth every RTS gamer's time and money, I couldn't bring myself, for instance, to recommend this game to people who don't play RTS games (a 9 rated game), much less to people that don't play games at all (a 10 rated game).


However, let's not let my justifications of why I donít feel this to be one of the greatest games of all time detract from the fact that this is a fantastic game. Save for the somewhat dated look of the game, there is just too much being offered by Empire Earth II for RTS gamers not to take notice. The single player campaign offers a lot of gameplay already and there are also more customizable single player options as well as a comprehensive online option. The historical aspect of the game also offers a lot and I found myself interested in the actual historical facts in many of the missions. Again, almost everything in the game allows you to go as deep as you are comfortable with.  How far you allow this game to involve you is only limited by its core design element of actually being an RTS game. Beyond that, the developers have packed so many features and options to make your gaming life so much more convenient and fun, that while playing this game I hope you will see the genius of their creation and appreciate it.


- Mark Leung

(August 14, 2005)


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