Reviewed: June 20, 2005
Released: April 26, 2005
The original Empire Earth game was released years ago and had plenty of excitement to go around. I remember when I first played the original game, the back-story and gameplay were excellent, and the graphics made it feel as if you were truly involved in your own world conquest. The ability to create, build, and lead a civilization through the epochs was truly astounding. The game could literally be played a thousand times and no two would be the same. Now that it has been a few years and the original game has all but faded from our minds, Mad Doc software brings us Empire Earth II.
It has taken quite a few years for Empire Earth II to materialize. This new game has added many features not found in the original. There are unique units, powers, leaders, and many bonuses that the original did not contain. There are a total of 14 different civilizations that grow and evolve over 16 different epochs. This new game really has a mind of its’ own. Your computer-controlled opponents in the single player campaigns will use strategy, spies, and territory borders to bring your civilization to its knees.
In many of the RTS games, the weather is just there for eye-candy appeal. In Empire Earth II, it actually plays a role and many of your assets suffer because of it. Have you ever tried to farm in a blizzard? How about find your way to the warehouse with your load of goods in the fog? You are constantly trying to find and adapt new strategies to the ever-changing world of Empire Earth II.
Empire Earth II has really taken the word “epic” seriously. The game is very complex, however, with the help of the tutorials it makes it quite manageable. The keyboard shortcut card included with the game is a modest half-page in length. If you would like to see all of the keyboard shortcuts, just print out the four-page document that is contained in the install directory. This game is truly of “epic” proportions. That’s what makes it so entertaining, challenging, and fun!
I could write a book in this section pertaining to the gameplay of Empire Earth II. There have been so many features added to this new iteration of the game that I truly don’t know where to start. I believe we should start with some of the new features of the game.
There are many new areas that have been added to the user interface. There are the Citizen Manager, War Planner, Crown Display, and Diplomacy screen just to name a few.
One new feature is the Citizen Manager. The Citizen Manager is where you can easily monitor what each of your citizens is doing. Is Joe Citizen collecting food, building a new structure, or just loafing around waiting for something to do? From here you can assign citizens to gather resources, build structures, or create farms. There are many more tasks that you can assign to your citizens from this screen as well. You can also check your current resource amounts from this screen.
The War Planner is a very unique and welcome addition to the RTS genre. The War Planner allows you to create war plans and send them to your allies for their review. The ally may recommend some changes or they may just accept or decline them without any changes. The ability to define troop movements on a map of your “world” really takes this game to another level. This feature alone allows your online experience to be much more enjoyable and fun. Once you and your ally have agreed on a plan, just sit back and watch the plan unfold on your enemy. This is a feature that the RTS genre could have used years ago.
The Crown Display button shows the progress you are making in each of the crown areas. The three crown areas are military, economic, and imperial. Once you earn a crown in a specific area, you are allowed to select a benefit or bonus from that area. The bonus that you gain could turn the tide in your favor and allow you or your opponent to have a significant edge over the other person.
Diplomacy is something that you hear about in many games, but it usually doesn’t have too much to do with your winning or losing the game. In Empire Earth II, your relationships with other players could lead to peace or war. You have the ability to create a proposal and submit it to another player for their review. Alliances can last for a specific amount of time, or until one player declares war upon the other. Diplomacy plays a major role in Empire Earth II by allowing you the time to build up an attack force or to just coincide with the other civilizations.
There are many more new features that have been added to the game. Some of those features include borders, tribute, and picture-in-picture displays.
Territory borders will move and shift depending on the bonuses that you have gained and the territories that you own. Your building time may greatly increase if you build outside your borders and in that of your enemies.
Tribute plays a large role in the game as well. You are now able to send units, resources, and even territories as a tribute to other players. This may sway them one way or the other on the acceptance of a peace treaty.
The picture-in-picture feature allows you to have up to six bookmarked displays. If you would like different views of your enemies’ territories, just set them up as a PIP display and bookmark them. If you would like to view them later, just click on the appropriate button or press the appropriate hotkey combination.
The graphics are truly amazing in this new version. The unit models, the buildings, and even the environment have all been redesigned. The game also allows you to zoom in and out on the area of play. Once you have zoomed in, the character animations and battle effects are truly amazing. The weather is an excellent example of how much work has gone into the graphics subsystem of this game. The fog rolls in and engulfs the land, allowing you to only see the vague shapes and movement of your enemies’ units. It could be a citizen or it could be a tank; you better wait for the fog to clear before you attack.
The one minor complaint that I do have is related to the game’s performance when you get a few dozen battling units on the screen. The graphics tend to slow down and get a bit choppy at that point as if it needs just a little bit more graphical horsepower. Don’t get me wrong, but if you own one of the $500 high-end video cards, you will most likely not see any problems or slow-downs. If, on the other hand, you have a middle-of-the-road video card, then you may have a few video performance problems during the game.
The original game had good sound, and Empire Earth II doesn’t disappoint in this category either. The exploding sound of the artillery is just a primer for the rest of the game. The weather effects and the musical score are both better than the original.
There are numerous scenarios and campaigns included with Empire Earth II. There are additional tutorial missions that I highly recommend you complete. Each tutorial mission will get you familiar with different aspects of the game. One mission will teach you how to manage your resources and build your cities, while another mission will teach you about combat and troop management. Each tutorial mission will help you gain knowledge of how the game works and what strategies are successful and which ones fail.
As with the original Empire Earth, this one also includes numerous multiplayer options. The game also offers the ability to do direct LAN play, and with the inclusion of GameSpy Arcade, you will have unlimited competition available on the Internet. GameSpy Arcade opens up the architecture of this game so that you can go online and play any of the built-in maps.
I have to highly recommend that you try this new version of Empire Earth II. Mad Doc has outdone itself this time and I only wish that other game sequels would follow this example. Empire Earth II really pulls you into the action. The storyline and gameplay have been designed to introduce beginners to the world of Empire Earth and at the same time make it challenging for the RTS veteran.
As you learn the game, you will also learn that there are many different levels of complexity. These levels of complexity could take hours and even days to master, adding to the replay-ability of Empire Earth II. The musical score has been well written and coincides well with the content. Once you add the multiplayer aspect to this game it truly is very hard to beat in terms of value.
I am certain that Empire Earth II will someday make it to the RTS Hall of Fame. It has surpassed the original in almost every way possible. It has become a new force to be reckoned with in the RTS genre.