Thursday, February 09, 2006

Star Wars – Empire At War

So I played the demo last week and all I can say is…Wow. Very nicely done Star Wars game….for once.

It’s no secret that the Star War video game franchise has been, ummmm, how do I say this nicely, lacking over the last decade or so. I think the last really memorable Star Wars game that I played was Tie Fighter (Jedi Knight is a close second). However, it looks like Star Wars: Empire At War just might be the one that breathes life back into the Star Wars name for PC gaming.

For those who haven’t played it, SW:EaW is a RTS game with some tried and true RTS ideas mixed in together…and very nicely I might add. You have your traditional ground pounding experience a-la Command and Conquer; where you have your units, the enemy has its units, now go kill them. There is no base building, however; there are reinforcement areas around a map which you capture in order to bring troops to the area. These troops you buy and transport before you invade the system.

You also have space battles which are kind of a nice mix between Star Craft and Star Trek: Armada in terms of mechanics. The space battles have a good sense of scale to them, so you get a good feel for how big a Star Destroyer is compaired to a Corellian Frieghter for example.

For games with the Star Wars name, atmosphere is everything. For me, if I don’t feel like I’m part of the Star Wars universe, then I will not be drawn into the game and more than likely will loose interest…check please. This game has atmosphere to spare. Whenever you move your men on the ground, a little hologram dude appears at the lower left hand part of the interface appears and gives you information in that theatrical Star Wars British voice we all know and love. This is just one of those little things that give great value to a game.

All of the sounds effects from the movies are there, from the blasters, to the clack-clank of the walkers to the cool sound that Hoth spy drone makes in Empire Strikes back. Overall, very well done in the sounds department.

Graphically, the game is beautiful. Full, rich environments. The modeling of all of my favorite ground and space vehicles are nicely done. Eye candle such as explosions and laser fire are also top notch.

This is a very brief review. I didn't even go into tech trees, bounty hunters, special characters, etc. If you haven’t had a chance to take a look at the demo, and you’re a Star Wars fan (even if you’re not), go try it out. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.

No comments: