Review by jetman123
"Once you get over the cinematic camera angle, you realize it is, wasn't, and won't ever be an actual strategy game, nor any kind of fun to play."
So. Star Wars: Empire at War. The game I was told did everything right. The game that I was told took what was wrong with Rebellion (an excellent game) and made it right.
It was the worst sixty dollars I EVER spent, and that is a high regard over all the other absolutely crappy strategy games I have produced. But I didn't realize that at first. At first I loved it. At first I was facinated. At first I was awed. At first I felt like I was in the movies. But once I finished playing around with the cinematic camera view, I quickly realized that it was yet another crappy "strategy" game that hardly deserves the title of strategy game at all. Only a brain-dead monkey would derive enjoyment out of playing this breed of game, a game that has no strategy involved whatsoever despite being classified as a strategy game. It is yet another "omgzzzzzzz make teh best units and sendz 20201 of them at teh enemeh base and j00 winz0r!!11!1oneshifteleven1!!!" and I am getting awfully tired of them.
Graphics - 9/10
Excellent graphics. Ships look smooth and detailed, animations aren't choppy and look fluid, and it really captures the feel of Star Wars - it makes you feel as if you are a part of the movies. Well, at least for a while, but I'll get to that in a minute. The cinematic camera angle is gorgeous - if you do get this game (which I strongly reccomend you not to) you will probably play around in it for a while. It's fun watching an Acclamator class star destroyer explode before your eyes, and fighters move very realistically making you feel as if it's really the movies.
Sadly, this is one of the two only good qualities the game has, the other being sound. And this most definitely is not an interactive movie - it's a game. The gameplay is the important part. They succeeded in making you feel as if you were in the movies, but failed at any kind of actual enjoyment of the game-playing experience.
Sound - 8/10
Classic John Williams stuff. Fits in well with the action and transitions based upon the situation, from the peaceful "panning down on a planet after the opening text crawl" to the Hoth asteroid field "Here They Come!". It contibutes well to the feel of the game, but again, the point is the gameplay, not the sound or graphics.
Gameplay - 1/10
Ah, now here we get to the rotten center of the sheening apple.
Once you get over the cinematic camera angle, once you get over the thrill of the star-warsy action, you realize that there is no intelligence involved in it whatsoever. It is yet another game where the winner is determined entirely by who clicks on the buttons the fastest in the right order. It is mind-boringly dull. There are godmode units everywhere, from the Rebel airspeeder to the Imperial Star Destroyer, both of which are severely unbalanced.
They say it's a strategy game. They could not be more wrong. This isn't a strategy game. This is a BUTTON-MASHING game, just like so many other so called "strategy" games. A real strategy game forces you to think about what you're doing. A real strategy game is where one strategy never works all the time. A real strategy game is where there's variety, where there's a counter for everything and where you have to think logically and tactically about what to send where.
A strategy game does not, in any way, shape, or form, depend entirely upon units, brain-dead minor tactics, or how fast you can click the production buttons. Yet this seems to be what LucasArts think a strategy game has, and it is all this game needs for you to win.
The galactic map is real-time. Time moves far too fast for you to formulate any kind of plan (not that it would ever actually help you anyway, it only matters that you've got enough airspeeders when you raid the planet) and you have no time to react or plan a defense if you get a message about an incoming enemy. Both ground and space combat depend ENTIRELY upon how many units the enemy has and how many you have. How is this strategy? How can ANYONE call this STRATEGY?
Strategy does not depend on reflexes. Strategy depends on thinking. There is no thinking involved in this game. There are only reflexes.
It isn't a strategy game, folks. Pure and simple, this game is entirely mis-genred, like so many others.
I wish I could point out something positive about all the button-mashing "strategy". But there isn't. I can't find a single reason anyone who actually isn't brain dead or enjoys strategy actually enjoying this game, nor any of the other hundreds of mislabeled strategy games out there, which also depend solely upon who can click the buttons the fastest.
They could have done it. They could have done it like Rebellion. That was an amazing game that was released before it's time. Yet they took the core concept and then put it through the shredder, then assembled the bits into a fighting game loosely disguised as an RTS. I can't beleive LucasArts would do this. Worst of all, I can hardly beleive they're MAKING MONEY OFF OF IT. Do yourself a favor, do not buy this game if you like strategy. It will be a blow against actual RTSes everywhere. As long as LucasArts wants to publish misgenred button-mashers like this, they don't deserve my money, your money, or anyone who actually likes strategy games' money.
Story - 5/10
It takes place a few years before A New Hope. That was about as far as I got before I realized it was a button-masher. I'm serious, I never played the game past that point and I saw no point to, because, how do you say this, THE CAMPAIGN ON EASY IS NEAR COMPLETELY UNWINNABLE DUE TO THE GROSS UNBALANCE OF UNITS AND UTTER LACK OF STRATEGY.
Should you buy this?
If you actually want strategy, don't buy this game. NEVER BUY THIS GAME IF YOU ARE EXPECTING TO LOGICALLY THINK THROUGH AND USE YOUR SKILLS IN STRATEGICAL CHOICES TO HELP YOU WIN, AS IT FACTORS INTO NO PART OF THE GAME. The only reason you should ever buy this game is if you are a fighting-game lover and love seeing who can push the buttons the fastest. If you actually want strategy, go buy Panzer General. Go buy Axis and Allies. Go buy Dawn Of War. Go buy Star Wars Rebellion. Those, folks, are the real strategy games. Not poor, shoddy, thinly disgused button-mashers like this one.
Reviewer's Score: 2/10 | Originally Posted: 05/25/06
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