Can you imagine Leonardo coming back to just tweak the Mona Lisa a little, toss a few extra trees in the background?
We seem to be talking a lot about flogging deceased equines lately, and unfortunately this Empire II expansion pack is more of the same. There seems to be some glitch in the human genome that means once you've created something awe inspiring and excellent, you get an urge to tinker with it long after its finished. At best you add nothing much of anything, at worst you screw it up completely. Empire Earth II: The Art of Supremacy fortunately falls in to the former category.
Same Superior Graphics...
Same Intense Battles...
The only real notable improvement is the faction editor, which allows you to design your own nation and customize bonuses. This is quite nice indeed, and does add a point of interest for those who have played the original game to death. There is a downside to it though, and that is the inevitable sameness of the civilizations. All civilizations in Empire Earth seem to have a drift towards a uniform look and feel that is quite unsatisfactory.
There are also four new nations to play, Russian, French, Zulu and Maasai. The Russian and French nations are quite forgettable, though there are some nice campaigns to go on. The African nations are cool additions, and the tribal war aspects are quite enjoyable. It is quite an experience playing way back in the mists of time, back when Egypt was still young. The fighting spirit of the warriors has been captured beautifully, and there is a certain poetry to watching them do battle. In a sad testament to the way of the world however, they are eventually absorbed into the mainstream, and even if they have been victorious, soon look no different from the other nations.
New game play modes have been added as well, like Tug Of War mode, in which you must push the enemy back to it's homeland. You can play over 3, 5, 7 or 9 maps, which can make this a quick skirmish like experience, or a drawn out fight to the death. Unfortunately not all the additions have been so successful, like Territory Hotspots, which is effectively the same as the original Hotspots.
Is this something new I see?
The Warriors have arrived!
Multiplayer has also been expanded with "Fealty". This means if you're beaten you can swear allegiance to the player who beat you and run the economy while they go kick some ass. It kind of defeats the purpose of multiplayer and is more humiliating than anything else. Sure in real life defeated nations will defer to their conquerors and play nicely with them in order not to be slaughtered, but real life doesn't have an easy log out function. It would seem that the developers forgot for a moment that players are not chained to their seats and are free to go at any time. To be fair though, perhaps more submissive, masochistic players might enjoy licking at table scraps from their new masters.
Unfortunately, the overall impression that this expansion leaves is that there really isn't much point to it at all. The extra African nations are awesome, but only in the early stages, and the editor could have been included in a patch. An expansion pack should really add something new to the gaming experience, and unfortunately this one merely seems to add more of the same. If you're hopelessly addicted to this game and you just must have more, then go ahead and get the expansion pack, it'll give you a few new things to toy around with. On the other hand, if you are looking for something new, there are other good strategy games out there to be getting your teeth into.
The problem is that Empire Earth II was already massive, already complex, and already had enough customization features to keep an astrophysicist happy. Making an expansion pack for it is a little like adding a pebble next to Michelangelo's David's toe. It's hardly noticeable, unless you're already an expert, and even then its kind of unsatisfactory.
This looks vaguely familiar...
Ah back to mayhem as usual...
Can you imagine Leonardo coming back to just tweak the Mona Lisa a little, toss a few extra trees in the background? No, because some things are good enough to stand alone without expanding. It's a lesson we all need to learn.
Top Game Moment:
TOP GAME MOMENT
Savoring the battles of the Ancients. It’s the most fun you’ll have, but I don’t know if it’s worth the price tag.