|Publisher: Aspyr Media Genre: Strategy & War|
|Min OS X: 10.4 CPU: Intel @ 1800 MHz RAM: 512 MB Hard Disk: 3500 MB DVD-ROM|
While Iíve written this review, Iíve felt like that crazy piano player on Sesame Street. You know the one, heís the guy that canít get Twinkle Twinkle Little Star right, and pounds his head on the keys of his little Muppet piano. Iíd play for a few hours, sit at the keys, write a thousand words, read it, realize it was garbage that didnít capture the game correctly, then delete it and go back to play some more. This process was repeated for the better part of five play sessions following the initial play marathon after the game arrived and subsequent rewrites. Star Wars : Empire at War is a game that has confounded me, entertained me, and defies easy and accurate description by the written word. Just the same, my job is to tell you what I think about it, so you, the discriminating Macintosh Game Fan can make an educated decision about the game. So, both the game and the review we shall experience together, dear reader!
GameplayFor the uninitiated, Star Wars: Empire at War is actually the fourth attempt at the real time strategy formula in the Star Wars universe. None of the first three really were either that well received or even that fun to play. Fortunately, only the best one of the previous three, Galactic Battlegrounds, made it over to the Macintosh side of the fence. Rather than follow the exact same formula as the previous Star Wars RTS titles, Petroglyph (with porting duties handled by Aspyr) set the gameís beginning just before the original trilogy era. Sure, Iím an older guy, and I suppose my expectations of good Star Wars is colored by the first three movies produced as those were the ones I saw first, this is a good thing. Rather than follow the plots of Star Wars: A New Hope to Return of the Jedi, Empires at War is a galactic mayhem simulator, allowing you to take the mechanisms of war and construct and utilize them in any ways you see fit, given the parameters of the scenario.
If youíre a single player aficionado, you can play a story mode, covering either the Empireís view of the conflict, or the Rebellionís view. As expected for a RTS, the development trees vary a little, in accordance with the faction you pick. The Rebellion story is pretty straight forward, and brackets events of the original trilogy nicely. Most of the exciting moments youíd expect to see are presented, both in space and on the ground in a massive combined arms battle. The Imperial side of the story is a bit more convoluted, and really not that noteworthy. While I understand everyone who is allowed to make a Star Wars game wants to contribute in their own way to the universe, in many cases, sticking to a more tried and true plot, rather than some bizarre internal Empire storyline, is a strange decision. The same story as the Rebellionís would have worked better, with branches for success or failure, much like the old Wing Commander mission branches. Fortunately for the less structured, Empires at War also has some basic skirmish missions, where you get tossed out into the sandbox with the only objective being total annihilation of the opposition. Personally, I had more fun with this mode than the Imperial storyline.