Strategy & War
Ahh, George Lucas… how do I love thee? Let me count the—wait! I get confused sometimes. Let me start over.
Ahh, LucasArts and your affiliate developers who have time and again saved the Star Wars series from George Lucas’ attempts to club it to death… how do I love thee? Let me count the ways…
For years now, Star Wars junkies have depended on those forces that surround Lucas to save the man and his creations from himself. Fans have, for the most part, not been let down by these brave protectors. There are a plethora of quality Star Wars novels out there, awesome fan-filmed saber fights scatter the net and there is some really choice Star Wars gaming to be found. There are tasty titles like the wicked fun FPS Republic Commando, the epic RPG series Knights of the Old Republic and now the addicting RTS Star Wars: Empire at War.Empire at War, by Petroglyph and brought to the Mac by our friends at Aspyr, takes the Star Wars gaming experience into the realm of the real-time strategy genre and the results are engaging, mostly because the gang’s all there. The gamer gets the chance to play across multiple planets in the Star Wars universe and with their favorites from all six of the films, and beyond. From controlling speeders on Hoth to sending Obi Wan out into battle to blasting it up with Kyle Katarn, the game is practically oozing fan service. Oh, did I mention you can also play as the Empire and lead Lord Vader himself across the battlefield, laying waste to Rebel units? You can, and it’s just as fun as you think it will be.
In a Galaxy Far, Far Away…As either the Empire or the Rebellion, the basic game format of Empire at War is the same. Action starts out on a galactic map, showing the positions of friendly, neutral and enemy planets in the system. Each planet has slots for space and land units, and you’ll need to make use of both, believe me. From the galactic map screen, the gamer can arrange troops and ships at various planets and can zoom down onto planets to construct bases, factories, large-scale weapons and all the other standard RTS buildings. This is also where units are trained up and deployed.
Once construction and training are complete, units are simply dragged and dropped to place them where the gamer would like. When friendly units move into space occupied by an enemy force, a battle commences. So, let’s say you’re the Rebels on Tatooine and you want to mount a ground assault over at Mon Calamari. You can’t just send those ground troops over to commence the invasion. First, you must control the space above the planet. Moving a fleet over an enemy controlled planet will initiate a space battle. Once that battle has been won, you can move troops to the system and then down to the planet’s surface for the land invasion. Once both battles are won, the planet is controlled and any bonuses associated with it are yours. Until, that is, someone comes and tries to take their planet back.
The galactic map is a persistent world, so don’t think that just because you take a planet it will remain yours. Gamers must be vigilant and maintain forces at all their controlled planets in the event of a sudden enemy attack.