Saturday, January 05, 2008

Empire Earth III Not Worth the Time or the Money

"The old real-time strategy game passed through 15 epochs (including the future) and 14 civilizations, spanning 13,000 years of human history and requiring the player's constant input. It even inspired a National Empire Earth II Championship on-line and at game centers in the US. But the new version, produced by the same Mad Doc studio and costing the same as the old one, is a great disappointment and goes many steps backward.

Instead of 14 civilizations - Aztec, Incan, Babylonian, Mayan, Egyptian, Greek, Roman, Chinese, German, British, American, Korean, Turkish and Japanese - based on history and excellent graphics, the new version offers only generic Eastern, Western and Middle East locations. Sadly, history fans can no longer play the game to live in the past or recall epic battles. Thus, contrary to the claims of publicity material for the game, it doesn't cover "the entire span of human history."

The game play for all three is essentially the same, except for the different architectural style of the buildings. The other distinguishing characteristics are that the Western group has more advanced technology, making the price of its units more prohibitive; the Middle East group focuses on surprise attacks; and the Far Eastern troops offer large armies at lower cost.

Apparently, despite all the praise version No. 2 received, the developers thought it was too demanding and complicated and sought to "popularize" it. Thus the new one is dumbed down, with a great deal of oversimplification and superficiality. Did I say "simplified"? I meant stripped to the bone, with no meat left. In their efforts to streamline the game, the developers threw the baby out with the bathwater.

Except for the opening clip in which an ancient woman morphs into a citizen of other epochs and then into a robot, the animations are a disappointment, as is the graphics quality of the game itself. Game play crashes very frequently. There are only five epochs, from ancient to medieval, colonial, modern and future. Although the background music is OK, the dialogue among faceless combatants is idiotic and repetitive: "'Fess up that you like the way I move," says a male robot from the future era to its female counterpart in a typical forgettable statement." - Jerusalem Post

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