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    Empire Earth

    Reviewed by Falcon

    System Requirements:
    Windows 98, Me, or 2000 CD ROM
    Pentium® II - 350 MHz or higher processor
    64 MB of RAM
    450 MB of hard disk space; additional 100 MB of hard drive space for swap file
    Super VGA monitor supporting 1024 x 768 resolution
    AGP (4 MB) or PCI (8 MB) 3D video card that supports 1024 x 768, 16 bit color resolution
    CD-ROM drive
    Microsoft Mouse or compatible pointing device
    28.8 Kbps modem (or higher recommended) for Internet or head-to-head play
    DirectX compatible sound card with speakers or headphones recommended

    Empire Earth is a 3D RTS game from Rick Goodman, the lead designer of the Age of Empires series. The main feature of the game is it’s huge scope, which spans 14 ages, known as epochs, over 500,000 years. Empire Earth also reaches 200 years into the future, into the age of cybernetic robots, similar to Mechwarriors. As you might imagine, the game is very similar to the Age of Empires series. The interface is almost identical, while the sound effects, controls and graphics are very similar, except for the 3D engine in Empire Earth.

    The idea of the gameplay is the same no matter what epoch you are in, or what sort of RTS you play for that matter – to build a base and army while gathering resources and defending your town from enemies. What does change over the time is the complexity of the game. From basic lands units at the start, there is a steady increase of ground units for melee, long range, and siege purposes, as well as naval and air units. Each unit has a type of attack and armour characteristic that becomes interrelated with other units.
    The number of units available is among the highest of any RTS game ever made, and there is a lot of attention to detail on strengths and weaknesses of each unit. For example, infantry can do pierce, shock, bullet, or laser damage, each type differently affecting other units, while tanks can do AP, HE, or even laser damage in the future. A bomber/fighter aircraft can do significantly more damage to an enemy fighter than against a concrete wall. The sniper can instantly kill infantry, while AT guns can deal mortal damage to tanks.

    Empire Earth has been designed with the strategy and history enthusiast in mind. Not only do the campaigns relive well-known historic events, with detailed storyline backgrounds added into each mission, but also the entire timeline of the game features units and weapons matching those available at each time period.
    There are four campaigns, covering all the available epochs in the game, including the ancient Greeks, middle age Europe, modern day Germany, and futuristic Russia.
    The historical accuracy of each campaign generally follows accepted events through our civilisation’s history, except for a few alterations here and there to fit the game. Unfortunately the accents of some of the unique characters were quite bad, even painful to listen to, and when zoomed in, their faces look like they were chalked onto a piece of cardboard and pasted onto the character’s head. This was made worse by the fact that the cutscenes during the missions use the game engine and involved zooming into the onscreen gameplay at the current time and featuring voiceovers for the characters.
    One good point however, is the large variety of gameplay involved in the campaigns - rather than just being deathmatch scenarios from different eras, all the campaigns are unique and feature different objectives and types of gameplay to reach them. Each campaign usually follows like a story, and upon completion of one task, the game leads you onto a new assignment. In one Greek campaign as Athens, you have to barricade yourself in a siege of the town, and then use a naval fleet to seek allies and collect precious resources from each to support the besieged city. Having gained access to (limited) resources from other cities, you will then need to build up an army and counter attack. In Alexander the Great’s campaign through the Middle East, you are forced with the decision to plunder valuable iron and gold for the campaign by razing towns, or capture them and use the citizens to farm and chop wood for you.

    In terms of different game types, there is nothing new; there are the standard campaigns, or deathmatch (genocide) options. There is also the “wonder” victory that players of AOE will be familiar with. For further replayability, there is also a scenario editor for hardcore gamers.
    There are 5 resource types, including the 4 pre-existing wood, stone, gold and food from Age of Empires, plus a 5th - iron. One improvement from AoE is that resource locations now have virtually unlimited amounts, so in the span of playing up to 14 different epochs you won’t run out of resources. Even farms have nearly limitless resources, saving the game from following one of the most irritating parts of Age of Empires whereby a farm would run out and the civilian will happily stand there watching grass grow.
    On the other hand it still takes a significant amount of time to gather the resources required for units, and becomes even worse for upgrades into modern epochs. The requirements are cumulative, so after 3-4 epoch advancements, the cost rises to over 3000 of each resource – noting that one civilian takes over a minute to collect just 15 of one resource and there is a 6 civilian max per mine. Therefore, although it is theoretically possible to play a game lasting though all 500,000 years, it would literally take days to finish the game.
    Note: the requirements also vary based on the number of players in the game as well as tournament/standard setting
    In playing through the random map deathmatch scenarios, it took me over 5 hours to complete one game against a single computer opponent which included around 4 epoch advancements, but when I played the same map again and entered some resource cheats it took less than 2 hours to finish. There is an added option called tournament mode, which will speed up the gameplay slightly. To the next page

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    Zalman: ZM-DS4F Headphones

    An affordable, ultra-portable headphone set.

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