|Developer(s)||Stainless Steel Studios|
Empire Earth, also known as EE, is a 2001 real-time strategy computer game developed by Stainless Steel Studios and released on November 23, 2001. It is the first game in the Empire Earth series. It has been described as very similar to the Age of Empires series, and received positive reviews.
The game requires players to collect resources to construct buildings, produce citizens, and conquer opposing civilizations. Empire Earth spans 500,000 years of world history, which is divided into 14 epochs, beginning with the prehistoric age, and ending with the nano age.
An expansion pack was developed by Mad Doc Software called Empire Earth: The Art of Conquest, which was released on September 17, 2002. It added new features such as a special power for each civilization, and a new 15th epoch, entitled the Space Age, which focuses on the colonization of space planets.
Empire Earth is similar to the Age of Empires series in that it is a history-based real-time strategy game. Empire Earth uses 3D graphics like Age of Empires III does, instead of sprites like Age of Empires II, the comparable game at the time. The game itself contains many unique and innovative features, including a "morale" system, which directly affects individual units statistics. It also incorporates a "hero" system. Heroes can be built at the town center or capital. There are two types of heroes, Strategist heroes who heal surrounding units and can demoralize enemy units while Warrior heroes give morale to surrounding units and have a greater attack power. Finally, the player has the option of creating their own civilization with unique bonuses. Empire Earth has a rather extensive map editor included.
Epochs are the ages a player passes through in Empire Earth. Each of these epochs represents an age within history. In Empire Earth, the last two ages (Digital and Nano Ages) are set into the moderate future. In the Art of Conquest, a third future age, the Space Age, is available. It deals with space colonization. Each epoch brings new technologies and units. Epoch advancement requires additional buildings to be built and the costs of advancing increases as more epochs are attained, although the ability to gather the required resources greatly increases as well. With new epochs, some new units are available at the cost of having to abandon the ability to produce old units, though any old units still alive are kept. The epochs in Empire Earth are the Prehistoric Age, the Stone Age, the Copper Age, the Bronze age, the Dark Age, the Middle Ages, the Renaissance, the Imperial age, the Industrial age, the Atomic World War I age, the Atomic World War II Age, the Atomic Modern Age, the Digital Age, and the Nano Age. An extra epoch, the Space Age, is available in Empire Earth: The Art of Conquest.
Several different units are available in each epoch, each being produced in a different building. Some units such as infantry are available in every epoch and can be created at the Barracks. Other units such as archers are available from the Stone age to the Renaissance and are created at Archery Ranges. Horsemen are available from the Copper Age to the Industrial Age and are created at Stables. Siege weapons such as catapults are produced at Siege Factories, they are available starting from the Bronze Age until the Dark Ages and are later substituted by the trebuchet in the Middle Ages throughout the Imperial age, finally being replaced by cannons in the Renaissance. In the Atomic Age-WW1 epoch some new buildings are made available to the player, such as Airports, Tank Factories, and Naval Yards where certain planes, tanks, and submarines, etc. can be produced. In the Digital age Cyber Factories and Laboratories are available and can produce many types of mechs, which are known as Cybers in Empire Earth.
Like many real-time strategy games, there are technologies available to improve a player's civilization. Technologies to improve farming can be researched at the granary. Health related technologies can be researched at a hospital. Technologies researched at the hospital improve the hit points, speed, and attack of a civilization's citizens, a hospital's healing rate and range, or the population capacity. Education upgrades are found in the university, which can protect units from being converted. Economic upgrades are found in the town center or capitol. These upgrades will increase the rate at which resources are gathered.
Empire Earth has 21 civilizations, (with two additional ones in The Art of Conquest). Civilizations are predetermined in scenarios, but chosen by the player shortly after the beginning of random map games. Each civilization has several bonuses such as increased speed or decreased cost for a type of unit. Any civilization can be played in any epoch but will only be powerful in ages that use units that it has bonuses for. In scenarios, the player receives "civ points" for completing various tasks. The following are the available civilizations, grouped into their recommended epochs. With the exception of the futuristic Novaya Russia and Rebel Forces, all civilizations in Empire Earth are based upon history. From the Prehistoric to Dark Ages, the civilizations are Ancient Greece, Assyrian Empire, Babylon, Byzantine Rome, Carthage, and the Kingdom of Israel. From the Middle Ages to the Industrial Age Austria, England, Franks, Kingdom of Italy, the Ottoman Empire, and Spain are available. From the Atomic Age to Modern times France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Russia, and the United States are playable, and from Digital Age to Space Age China, Novaya Russia, and Rebel Forces are playable. Japan and Korea are added in the Art of Conquest expansion and belong in the "Digital Age to Space Age" group.
Like many other real-time strategy games, Empire Earth has single-player campaigns. However, unlike some games, each scenario has a story to tell and the player takes part in that story. Apart from the Russian campaign, the mission, "Operation Sealion" in the German campaign, and possibly the first four scenarios in the Greek campaign, all of the battles in the campaigns have actually occurred.
The first campaign in Empire Earth is the Learning campaign. This campaign is where players are taught how to play Empire Earth. This campaign is available in both the original game and The Art of Conquest. This campaign is not required to be played in order and is divided into two parts. The first part is about the rise of Phoenicia. The second part is about the rise of the Byzantine Empire.
The first real campaign focuses on Ancient Greece. The opening five scenarios (of eight scenarios total) focus on the rise of Greece. The story tells of the early Helladic people from Anatoly, the Trojan War, the rise of Athens by unifying Attica, and the first years of the Peloponnesian War. There are some fictional elements as well (such as the Trojan horse being given to the Ithacans by the gods).The sixth scenario of the campaign is about the life of Alexander the Great. This part is about Alexander's ascension to the Macedonian throne and the establishment of the League of Corinth by crushing the revolt of Thebes, Athens and Sparta. The following scenario is about the Battle of the Granicus, Battle of Issus, and the siege of Tyre. The final scenario is the Battle of Gaugamela, the capture of Babylon and the battle for the Persian Gates, a mountain pass which beyond lies Persepolis, the ceremonial capital of Persia. The campaign ends when Alexander and his army enters Persepolis and Alexander manages to escape an assassination attempt while visiting the tomb of Xerxes I of Persia.
The English campaign is about the struggles between England and France for superiority in Europe. The first three scenarios (of eight total) are about William I of England, his victory against the rebellion from the barons with the help of Henry I of France in 1047, and the Battle of Hastings in 1066. The next three scenarios take place during the Hundred Years' War between England and France; Edward, the Black Prince and his raids in France are featured in the fourth and fifth scenarios. The sixth scenario is about Henry V of England's story, some parts based on William Shakespeare's play. The first part is the internal unrest of Lollards while the second part sees the occupation of Harfleur and the Battle of Agincourt. The final two scenarios are led by Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, who meets Napoleon I of France in battles at Roliça, Talavera, and Waterloo.
In the German campaign, the first four scenarios, out of seven total, take place during World War I, and feature the Red Baron. The player follows Richthofen through his early days of flight and the development of his "Flying Circus." The first mission involves directing Richthofen and his pilot, Count Holck, to safety after their aircraft is shot down over Poland in 1914, but in subsequent missions, Richthofen is a minor character. In the next three missions, the player protects shipments of war materials into Germany, directs German forces at the Battle of Verdun, and directs the Kaiserschlacht at the Battle of the Somme. The second part, consisting of three scenarios, deals with Nazi Germany and the first years of World War II in Europe. The first scenario introduces the Blitzkrieg, in which the player has to conquer Poland, Scandinavia, and France before an American-Soviet alliance makes it impossible. The next mission deals with the German U-boat and naval blockade of Great Britain and the Battle of Britain, which features the Bismark facing off against the Home Fleet. In the final scenario, the never-attempted Operation Sealion, the player leads German forces in an invasion of Great Britain, under the famous Field Marshal Erwin Rommel, ultimately annexing the United Kingdom to the Greater German Reich, also thwarting a surprise attack by the US 5th Fleet (led by the Enterprise carrier) in the process.
In the Russian campaign, the player leads Novaya Russia, a reconstruction of the Russian Federation. The game begins in 2018, with the Russian political dissident Grigor Stoyanovich heading up a full-sized civil war from Volgograd, followed by a seizure of power in the Kremlin. The second scenario is about Europe's unsuccessful attempt to free Novaya Russia's oppressed population and Russia's conquest of the continent. In the third scenario the now-old Grigor appoints his robotic bodyguard as his successor, crushes a coup in Moscow with help from loyalist forces, and finally succumbs to heart problems. Under Grigor II, Novaya Russia continues its conquest of the world by invading and subjugating China, narrowly averting a time paradox. By this time, Novaya Russia has control over much of Eurasia. In the penultimate scenario, during an attempted invasion of the United States in 2098, General Sergei Molotov finally realizes that Grigor II became mad with power, and deserts. Cooperating with U.S. agent Molly Ryan, he re-enacts the Chinese plan, building a time machine and returning to 2018 in order to set things right. They arrived just a few minutes late, as Grigor already left Voronezh. In addition, Grigor II realized their plans and took the time machine, fortifying Volgograd with a sizeable detachment of cybernetic forces. A massive battle ensued, ending in the technologically horribly outmatched Molotov and Ryan destroying Grigor II and assassinating Grigor (who proved to be unreasonable due to knowledge of Novaya Russia's military might). The campaign ends with an unanswered question:
|“||I can feel the tug of the time vortex...pulling me...back. But what future will I return to? One that is better, or worse?||”|
Development and release
Empire Earth was announced by Stainless Steel Studios on March 31, 2000, with an intended release date of the early half of 2001. When first interviewed about the game, Rick Goodman and Stefan Arnold commented about the progress and layout of the game on December 12, 2000. They mentioned many aspects of the game, including the use of heroes, unit upgrades, the availability of civilizations, economic build up, and polishing of the final product.
On January 18, 2001, Stainless Steel Studios added Damon "Stratus" Gauthier to work on the multiplayer aspect of the game. He was a veteran of several StarCraft tournaments, and was meant to balance the multiplayer of the game. Empire Earth also made appearances at E3 2000 and E3 2001 about its progress, and a beta test and movie for it were released in early August 2001.
Reception and Legacy
Empire Earth averaged an 82% according to Game Rankings, and earned GameSpy's 2001 "PC Game of the Year " award. It was rated 8.5/10 by IGN, who commented "Anyone who's familiar with Age of Empires is going to hit the ground running in Empire Earth. With a few additions and some small changes the economic model and interface is pretty much exactly like that in AoE2." GameSpot was not as impressed, giving it 7.9/10, saying "Empire Earth is best reserved for hard-core real-time strategy players who won't mind the game's less-than-stellar graphics and sound but will instead relish the ability to relive 14 different epochs of human warfare.". Game Informer was disappointed and gave it a 6.25/10, saying "Empire Earth couldn't walk the walk like it talked the talk. Although no one patch can fix either of the aforementioned items, the latter will certainly see some type of quick adjustment in the near future."
Empire Earth sold over 1 million units. Empire Earth was re-released as Empire Earth Gold Edition on May 6, 2003. It contains both the original game and the expansion pack, manuals, and technology trees for both games, hotkey reference and the official strategy guide.
Empire Earth spawned several sequels and eventually an expansion pack. Empire Earth: The Art of Conquest, the expansion for Empire Earth, was released in May 2002, and a sequel, Empire Earth II, was released in 2005. Empires: Dawn of the Modern World was considered to be a "spiritual sequel" to Empire Earth, since it was also made by Stainless Steel Studios and released between Empire Earth and Empire Earth II. A cell phone version of Empire Earth, Empire Earth Mobile, was released in 2005. Another sequel, Empire Earth III was released November 6, 2007. On Monday November 3, 2008, at 7pm GMT, the WON servers, dedicated to the Empire Earth and Empire Earth: The Art of Conquest online game-play system, were permanently shut down by Activision.
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