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LucasArts Focus: Star Wars: Empire at War
game: LucasArts Focus: Star Wars: Empire at War
posted by: Blaine Krumpe
publisher: LucasArts
developer: Petroglyph
date posted: 12:00 AM Mon Feb 14th, 2005
last revision: 12:00 AM Mon Feb 14th, 2005

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For those of you who have mixed feeling regarding the last two Star Wars RTS games, there is a new player in town who is going to rock your world.  From what we've seen so far, Star Wars: Empire at War is going to be a smash hit this fall when it comes to PC.  One of the most promising features is in fact a lack there of... missions will be unscripted; instead, the universe will be open unto thee.

The setting of the new RTS will be somewhere between Episode III and Episode IV, with all the usual planets you can think of: Tattooine, Endor, Dagobah, and Hoth.  You will be also be able to control your traditional and timeless vehicles, such as your AT-ATs, speederbikes, Y-Wings, TIE fighters, and the list just goes on.  One of the best parts of the mission structure, that I've heard of so far, is your ability to keep whatever you create from mission to mission.  Gone are the days when you've built up an unstoppable army, only to have it vanish in the next mission when you are sent on some recon task. 

The two sides, the Rebels and the Empire, will be played very differently due to resources, technology, and intelligence.  If you play as the Rebel Alliance you'll be at an inherent lack of resources, man power, and technology.  Also, developing a massive army will be easily spotted by the Empire.  However; you have the advantage of seeing where the empire is at all times due to your diligent spies, and other forms of intelligence gathering.  I can foresee a lot of hit and run tactics and guerilla warfare if you decide to go with the good guys.  On the other hand, the massive Empire has the advantage in manpower, technology, and force.  Running amuck has always been a strong point with these guys, and this game will be no different.  There are of course disadvantages; your troop movement will always be spotted and you will be unable to detect the goings on of the Rebels.

The fighting in this game is going to, in two words, seriously rock.  You'll be waging pitched battles across several planets and not just on the ground; space will become your playground as well.  Space fighting will resemble naval fighting, where you'll have gigantean and slow moving warships that are confined to a relatively planar environment, while the fighters and Imperial cruisers have the advantage of a more liberal 3-D flight course.  This may detract a bit from the appeal for the more hardcore fans of space fighting, but it's been done to reduce confusion for the regular player.  During fighting, cruisers, fighters, space stations and so on, will be able to target individual pieces of equipment on the enemy.  If you want to stop a Rebel vessel from escaping, tell your fighters to target in on its engines.  Consequently, different pieces of your ship will be upgradeable as the technology is acquired, or you have enough money to purchase bigger guns, armor, engines, and so forth.   Just know this: space battles will be very, very, large and impressive, so be prepared. 

Ground warfare will have similar confines to that of the first Ground Control game.  Units will be ferried from space onto the surface of the planet.  However, you will also be able to remove forces from one planet and transport them to another planet.  That's where the importance of continuous units comes in.  Units on the ground will also be able to affect battles in space with ground based weapons like the Ion Cannon.  Space vehicles will be able to participate in the ground warfare, i.e. bombing runs!  In essence, your fighting abilities, options, and replay ability will be extensive, whether it's in space or on the ground. 

With a scheduled release date set for later this year, and a brand new graphics engine dubbed Alamo,? this game is going to break many stereotypes and measures of RTS games of the past.  With conflicts raging across planets and star systems, your ability to strategize and plan deviously will be unbridled.  Everyone from the expert to the weekend gamer will hopefully find this game a blast when it comes out. 

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