Empire Earth III
Empire Earth 3 is the type of game which failed before it hit the shelves. Empire Earth 3 is the type of game kids will unwrap on Christmas day and tell their friends they got something else. Empire Earth 3 is the type of game you never need to play, or even know existed.
After two rather successful instalments, the elusive second sequel was always going to be a problem. What can you do to improve a series which has fulfilled its slightly limited potential? The answer (which seemed an attractive proposition to Sierra) is to quite simply to dumb it down and thus potentially more appealing to the target consumer, however watering down this game has washed away any enjoyment whatsoever and after Command and Conquer 3, Empire Earth 3 looks a mess of a game.
Things start very promising with the game; if there is one area which deserves praise then it is the excellent presentation, particularly in the opening menus - their colourful, swift and accessible. The player is offered three game modes; Tutorial, Skirmish and the meat of the game, World Domination mode. The Tutorial mode is very well structured for those who are new to the series or the genre in general, taking you from basic movement controls to understanding the tactics needed to make a productive civilisation and progress through the technological ages. So far so good, but unfortunately this is where the appeal begins to fade as the core game play itself fails to hold its own, let alone provide entertainment to the player.
Battles consists of the same process, getting as much money as you can as quick as possible for constructing buildings and defences, sending a group to explore the map and finding the objective before unleashing your huge new army upon your enemy. Now this may sound the norm for fans of the genre, but when 95% of the time is spent organising your city instead of completing objectives then you know itís not going to be long before the tedium kicks in. Options are also much more limited than in the previous game, with just a handful of soldiers and vehicles to make, which doesnít allow for much experimentation with your army. In a far superior seven year old RTS (Red Alert 2) you had options, and tonnes of them. Want to try and take down every solider in the enemies base with an army of attack dogs? Go ahead. Want to treat a sniper like your baby and get him promoted to the highest ranks? You can do it. In Empire Earth 3, this level of choice simply is not present and youíll most likely become frustrated sooner rather than later at the lack of choice and the lack of control.
Yes, the controlsÖ For some reason Sierra force you to use either the arrow keys or push the cursor right up against the edge of the display to change your field of vision. You can also expect to spend a large proportion of time simply scouting the area with the overhead camera as the longest range camera simply is not high enough in the air so you never have a very good view of the battlefield. Selecting and moving units is also a painful experience; surely it wouldnít have been difficult to include an option of selecting all of your, for example, Javelins to be moved to one area or to have multiple units which you can alternate between and move into positions. Itís a shame that the controls too are so bad, as with practical controls it would have at least been an average game, instead of a poor one.
The game isnít much better to look at as it is to play, either. The environments and character models are a little more detailed than the previous game, although to make up for it not being the best looker of 2007, the whole game looks like it has been laminated for a more shiny effect, similar to some early Xbox 360 ports. For the minimum requirements though, Empire Earth 3 simply is not aesthetically pleasing after the eye-candy fest that is Command and Conquer 3: Tiberium Wars. The game’s audio however complements the player’s experience perfectly in the sense that in the opening menus it’s full of expectation and makes you want to sit down and play, but when you actually get into the game it’s horrendous, full of cheesy accents and one of the worst sense of humour found in a game since the commentary of early Pro Evolution Soccer games. An online mode also comes as part of the ‘package’ however on each attempt i made to find a game, there were no players online at all.
Quite simply Empire Earth III is a game you should never play in your life. Itís boring, itís structured as well as the leaning tower of Pisa and in one of the best seasons gaming has ever seen, it really shouldnít be on the shelves. When a game has a patch of a whopping 365MB waiting for the player on release, you know something is not right. In a year where some of the greatest games of all time have emerged, this is a joke.
Four out of ten
- Beautiful Presentation
- Well structured tutorial
- Empire Earth II but with fewer options
- The graphics donít justify the specs
- The controls feel unfinished
- You have to pay for it.