Empire Earth is striking the globe once again in this third reiteration, and this time around the whole World is up for a scrap
Empire Earth is striking the globe once again in this third reiteration, and this time around the whole World is up for a scrap.
World Domination lets players for the first time ever in the EE universe actually get a chance to have an Empire spanning the Earth. Previously it had all been about the civilizations you choose and then just sprawling out your master-plan on skirmish maps, or through a series of campaign scenarios. Now mad-doc has offered up the whole planet to be conquered in a turn-based style as you move about armies and strike up alliances or trade agreements. Once a battle starts you’re cast down to the real-time portion of the game and where the heart of Empire Earth has always been.
Earth can finally be conquered with gameplay as your main foe
Strategies change with each faction, but not by a lot
Given that the World has become a playground for mayhem and egos it is somewhat bewildering to learn that you can choose between only three “factions” as the game refers to them. West, Middle East or Far East are the only options available which is a mighty watering down from the original that offered a buffet of civilizations you could sample from. Each faction has its own strengths and weaknesses, the West concentrates on expensive but advanced units while the Far East are cheaper but pack less of a punch individually but can also build.
They all have their own art styles to buildings and units but that too has changed a lot. The visuals have taken a more bulky, colourful form which isn’t a bad thing especially when structures are blowing apart but it does seem to cause a lot of pathfinding issues. Now the original was no saint for AI but Empire Earth III practically shows off just how incredibly dense units are at getting about the map. They’ll frequently “teleport” and dart-about the place as they struggle to co-operate with the environment, sometimes units can also get stuck on a wall even though there wasn’t any way they could scale it. These can really infuriate an attack strategy as units hinder or even disable themselves through questionable self-reliance.
A lot of this is down to the maps themselves being too cramped, the units huddle together but bounce off themselves and the local hazards leaving themselves as easy pickings. Even naval units have a hard time and they’re at sea mostly. Unit movements are jagged and feel broken as they clumsily try to barge their way to where ever you want them to go. On a plus side the unit voice-overs are funny to listen too but their constant repeats of quirky lines can get a little old mid-way through a match.
Units can be upgraded still with investments of resources though these are fixed and you won’t be able to choose like in the original where you could opt for more health, better speed or longer fuel times etc. The same applies to certain buildings like the market for foreign trade or better materials for walls and fortresses. Expect to be repeating this process a lot through World Domination as most previously invested improvements will need to be selected time and time again.
Iron, Stone and Food no more – now it’s all about a generic resource pile. There’s no need to be frantically searching for an iron vein or a precious stone pile now as you only collect and spend these collective raw materials. A simplification to a system that would sometimes cause boundary disputes among allies let alone enemies. Of course “territories” addressed that issue in the EE2 and are present here in EE3 still. Whack down a city centre and the zone is yours to build on, an effective way to help players maintain control and have access to resources. It does take a lot of fun out of the struggle and adds a whole lot of “fair play” to war but fixed boundaries tends to kill a lot of the tension in a battle.
World Domination starts with your home province, from there you march
You can improve certain parts of your Empire, like infrastructure, at a cost
Gold still matters as markets built within your territories can cart trade between the marketplace and city centres but it can be far more profitable to send them off to a distant centre for better income. Trade tends to go hand-in-hand with alliances and there are plenty of opportunities to make new friends either with AI players or a tribe. Tribes are in many ways like another player except they don’t care for conquest, they have no desire to enlighten or enslave the globe. This makes them an interesting variable as you can wipe them from the face of the map or work to make better relations through tribute. Get them to like you enough and they may accept a breakable alliance or go far enough and accept assimilation into your Empire. If that happens your diplomatic relations become their own and you can suddenly see a huge spurt of militarization occur.
Assimilated tribes act as “free” militias for parts of the World you control, you can of course buy a militia as well but at least if war does come knocking on your door then you’ve got a very friendly native defence force willing to die for the players cause. You’ll bump into a few objectives that will make their presence known as you vie for global expansion; these usually entail dealing with the tribes that dot provinces. Some are varied in their expectations of you requiring just a quick assimilation or annihilating a tribal rival, others can go on for a little longer as you’re asked to “take back” a province. These can unlock more objectives much like you’d expect in quest-lines in RPGs but generally they just mean you’ll be traipsing through yet another map, if you’re lucky you might get a timer to make things a little less repetitive.
During the turn-based World view you’ll need to assign acquired provinces to either military, commerce, imperial or research. Each show how much they can produce of each, this is how an Empire will gain their new armies, spend on perks like roads and infrastructure or help toward advancing the epoch. It’s always good to keep an eye on these designations to make sure you can maximise “profit” from your lands. Skirmish battles operate slightly different as your city centre can produce scholars which boost your research resource for advancements.
Mad doc have tried to help simplify elements of EE that many thought were a little too demanding but I think now it’s time fans of the series like myself realised that that complexity is what made it so special and memorable. Empire Earth III has suffered way too much water-torture, the fun and frantic building of an empire you could truly be proud of has just been drowned out. Not to mention little historical miscalculations like native-American tribes setting up sticks in Europe, why aren’t they named after European groups like the Goths or at least look the part of barbarian clans? World Domination is probably the most successful part too this sequel but even that was “inspired” from Rise of Nations that offers the same deal but with much better depth and plausible gameplay.
Naval units are just as dense as land units when it comes to pathfinding
Buildings blow apart, always a highlight of war
I loved Empire Earth and still do to this day, but Empire Earth III is literally in a universe of its own. It barely takes anything of worth from its root and instead we are left with an unremarkable real-time strategy. Even if the bugs were to be addressed there are so many fundamental shortcomings still laid bare that unless a major revival happens it looks like Sierra’s Empire Earth is about to suffer the fate of all once great Empires and fall into memory.
Top Game Moment:
TOP GAME MOMENT
Remembering the old Empire Earth and realising how much I still love the “complicated” relic.