Building off the success of its recent first-person shooters, LucasArts hopes to further Star Wars' video-game influence with this ambitious real-time-strategy game. This official demo shows off deep gameplay, polished graphics, and classic Star Wars characters we've loved through the years. A well-designed, five-part tutorial teaches the basics of controlling both the Rebel and Imperial units, and the available single-player mission lets you control the Rebel Alliance in an assault on an Imperial space station and a raid on the planet Tatooine.
Basic gameplay will be familiar to many RTS gamers (for example, right-click to attack), but even at a fundamental level you can see the differences between playing as Rebels or the Empire. For example, whereas the Empire gains resources only by planet domination, Rebels can increase their resources (in the form of "credits") by employing smugglers (such as Han Solo), who can then be thwarted by Imperial bounty hunters.
Battles are mostly divided into space and ground melees, with a wide variety of specialized units available for both. Valuable reinforcement areas provide the bulk of the ground strategy, while space battles are a mixture of managing bombers and positioning the bigger gunships. All units in space and on land have a specialized ability or attack, such as thermonuclear bombs (speeders) or ion cannons (Y-Wings). Space units and ground units can sometimes assist each other, the most basic ability being troops calling in bombing runs. The in-game control bar is laid out logically, and all the special space and ground moves have logical keyboard shortcuts. R2D2's holographic projections of mission updates are another nice touch.
Prequel detractors, have no fear! The game is set in the years immediately before the original Star Wars movie (Episode IV: A New Hope), and it's a very familiar environment for fans of the original trilogy. The included mission won't provide countless hours of entertainment, but the valuable tutorial, quality graphics, excellent interface, and sheer fun of directing Tiefighter attacks help the demo easily earn a top rating.
Star Wars: Empire at War puts the power to command an entire war for the Star Wars galaxy in the hands of players, giving them the freedom to determine how they play the game within the completely scalable and accessible gameplay. Set a few years before the events of Episode IV: A New Hope, Empire at War lets players wage war on ground and in space, as well as experience the creation of the Rebel Alliance, the strengthening of the Empire, and the beginnings of galactic civil war.
Using an entirely new game engine, Empire at War features space battles set on memorable planets such as Yavin IV, Tattoine, and Dagobah, as well as never-before-seen environments taken from the Star Wars films expanded universe novels. In the game, players decide to join either the Rebel Alliance or the Galactic Empire, building and setting up tactical forces to unleash upon the enemy in real-time 3D. Memorable Star Wars hero characters can be brought into the action to help turn the tide of the battle as players build, manage, and upgrade their space and ground-based units, vehicles, troops, and base structures.
What's new in this version:
This version is the first release on CNET Download.com.