Empire Earth

There aren't many places where you'll find a laser-sword-wielding mech, a caveman, and a World War II Howitzer fighting alongside Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of Britain. but these are rare times. And Empire Earth is one of those rare places. Sierra's ambitious, epoch-spanning RTS aims to usurp Age of Empires' crown with hundreds of units pulled from 14 eras of Earth time.

Empire Earth's single-player campaign will be story-driven, spanning several period of Earth history (and beyond), with cut scenes created using the game's versatile, swooping in-game camera - aand a built-in scenario editor that allows you to create your own pockets of the past, present, and future. Multiplayer battles in the beta were absolutely chaotic, with an almost overwhelming number of building upgrade and unit customisation opportunities. and the beta only spanned a fraction of the game's 14 different eras.

If Empire seems to have one weakness, it's that the 3D models in the beta were a little on the simplistic side, a step behind the character detail of a game like Black & White. Diversity, personality, and sheer numbers step in to pick up the slack, with unique, surreal mech designs and nice little touches like modern-era prophets that wear sandwich boards foretelling that, lo, the end is nigh. There's also something to be said for a game where you can get a Sherman tank, Napoleon, the Tower of Babel, and a pack of roaming emus all in the same screen shot.

Sound like a lot to handle? It is; too much, potentially. But the development team (comprised partly of Age of Empires design veterans) is constantly tweaking the game balance to ensure the game doesn't crack under the weight of its own variety, trying to make it so that Empire Earth is the last RTS you'll ever need to buy.

Publisher: Sierra
Developer: Stainless Steel Studios
URL: www.sierrastudios.com/games/empireearth/index2.html

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