- Navy Lieutenant Not Happy with Xbox One, Unloads on Microsoft
- Dead Space 4 Pushed Aside for New Star Wars Title
- Xbox Live Reduced Content for June 2013
- Xbox Live Marketplace Update: June 18th, 2013
- PSPlus Not Required for Auto-Updates with PS4
- Jimmy Fallon Plays With Xbox One
- Sega Says Phantasy Star Online 2 for the West is 'Delayed'
- Torchlight Free on GOG.com for Next 48 Hours
- XCOM: Enemy Unknown iOS Available This Week
- Best Games of E3 2013 - People's Choice
- Mornin '13
- Xbox One Will Still Allow Access to Games to Banned Users
- Oculus Rift Welcomes VR Sex Game to Launch Library
- Watch Dogs, Far Cry & Rabbids Movies in the Making
- Battlefield 4 Alpha Testing, Possibly System Requirements
- Nintendo has No Plans to Cut Price of Wii U
- Sony Explains Why PS+ is Needed for Multiplayer
- The Last of Us Top Dog in UK
Empires: Dawn of the Modern World Review
developer: Stainless Steel Studios
PIII 600, 128MB RAM, 32MB Video Card, 900MB HD
|ESRB rating: T
release date: Oct 21, 03 (released)
|» All About Empires: Dawn of the Modern World on ActionTrip|
Here we go again, baby! Rick Goodman and Stainless Steel Studios take us through three huge campaigns in their latest RTS achievement, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World. Unlike their previous work, Empire Earth, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World doesn't involve any civilizations or campaigns set in the future. Empire Earth received extremely positive feedback largely for its addictive and well-structured single-player campaigns set in medieval times and throughout World War II. With that in mind, Stainless Steel Studios decided to work on those periods and make things even more exciting to hardcore RTS gamers as well as Empire Earth fans.
The single-player experience in Empires: Dawn of the Modern World encompasses 1,000 years of human history. Players follow the military campaigns of three highly regarded historical figures: Richard Lionheart (England from 1182-1190), Admiral Yi (Korea 1590- 1597), and General Patton (WWII from 1942-1945). The main thing that drives players through each one of these campaigns is the presence of steadfast military leaders, which fearlessly lead their troops into battle no matter what the odds were. This game tells a tale of inspirational deeds and heroic characters. It's a matter of doing what's right and kicking the enemy's but. So, you might wanna pass this one up if you felt like being the bad guy. Otherwise, put on your decorations and medals, strap your helmets on, and prepare for war!
Empires consists mainly of scenarios set in various times during history. Each scenario was well written, maintaining a gripping story all the way. The concept behind each mission brilliantly ties into significant historical events and characters. There are many unexpected events to be discovered as you engage each mission. Initially, I was disheartened to find that most missions are rather linear. However, as you delve deeper into the game it becomes clear that assessment wasn't exactly accurate. After a while, you can complete various optional side-missions, which can award you with reinforcements, additional resources, and such. This feature effectively balances things out and reduces the game's linearity. Empires: Dawn of the Modern World also borrows a couple of successful gameplay elements from RTS titles like Warcraft III: Reign of Chaos. Your armies are guided by a valiant hero with exceptional leadership skills and admirable combat abilities. Instead of just leading a bunch of grunts into certain death, players soon get caught up in turbulent lives lead by these extraordinary individuals of human history. The designers did a great job of keeping the player interested in the game by adding layers of depth to the storyline. This additional drama, suspense, and deep characterization, was obviously a good move and it sure as hell remains one of the most alluring aspects of the game.
Essentially, the concept of gameplay is pretty much the same as in Empire Earth. Setting out on your very first task, introduces you to the gameplay mechanics and the user interface. You'll recognize these elements as being very similar to Empire Earth, so for fans of that game the learning curve will be greatly reduced. So it'll surely make EE fans feel right at home. Even if you haven't played the original, the interface is amazingly easy to learn and use. The developers did their best to simplify moving troops around, issuing orders, etc. All you RTS rookies also shouldn't worry about getting into the game, this one is very simple.
You will be able to acquire and control an amazing variety of units throughout each campaign. During most of the missions, the chief objective is to fight the enemy with the modest number of troops at your disposal. To do this properly, players are required to fight for resources and invest them wisely into developing a larger army. Generally, the units are well-balanced, so you'll soon discover that each and every one of them may be useful to your cause. Also, many of them have special skills and attacks, which are sometimes the only way you can plow through enemy lines. In Medieval England for example, you'll be able to toy with several period military units, such as the crossbowmen. This unit can release poison and flaming crossbow bolts at your enemies. These special offense tactics will help out a great deal, the poison bolts will slow down enemy soldiers, while flaming bolts induce a great deal of damage to their target by spreading fire. The developers also put in an interesting variation of your typical medieval siege weapon, which, apart from tossing huge rocks, can deal more damage to enemy ranks by hurling cow corpses infected with Black Death. Of course, there's more to the game than fancy swordplay, fiery arrows and cow tossing. For instance, in 16th century Korea, you can improve the performance of most of your soldiers by clicking on the 'martial arts' icon. When you do this, your troops will temporarily engage the enemy with lethal combos and elegant melee attacks. As I said, the team at Stainless Steel have put in an amazing variety of units, all of which can contribute to any battle situation. Clearly there was a lot of effective improvising during development and from our experience the results were quite rewarding. In one particular mission in Korea, I stumbled upon a herd of cute-looking oxen. Once your strap barrels loaded with gunpowder to their back, you can send them into enemy territory kamikaze style. (Ed. - Kamikaze oxen, diseased dead cow hurling, I'm telling you, if this game had some clap-ridden hookers for you to send in it would be damn near perfect.) I'm telling ya, they can blow up anything. As each chapter of history unfolds, you find yourself dealing with new technologies and unlocking more complex examples of advanced warfare. In the final campaign (General Patton - i.e. battles of WWII), airplanes and armored vehicles roll into gameplay, as well as flamethrowers, rocket launchers, and atomic weapons. It's commendable that all these weapons and units get their piece of the action during combat. Once again, the developers appeared to have done a great job on unit balancing, considering how many units there are in the game all together. By the way, this is but a mere sample of a huge choice of units you'll be able to handle in the game.
Due to all of the aforementioned features, Empires: Dawn of the Modern World will never appear too dull. Apart from an amazing variety of weapons and units, there are a number of praiseworthy flavors added to gameplay. In certain missions your armies can be assisted by supernatural forces or even calamities such as fire or sea-storms - these occurrences may turn the tide in your favor. Perhaps this would be a good moment to describe how some of my invasions transpired. In a certain mission in Korea, I approached an enemy-infested island from the far side, where my opponent's fortifications were shielded by a dense forest. Seizing the opportunity, I unleashed a huge fire and destroyed the forests. Then I launched a massive mortar attack on enemy fortifications, while providing cover with my gun infantry. Eventually, I sent the cavalry and sword infantry, lead by three hero units into the fray to finish the job. In such cases, the possibilities of military tactics are practically limitless, leaving you with many ways to shatter enemy defenses.
The AI has seen some overall step ups since EE. Individually, enemy troops appear to know which one of your units are most vulnerable to melee attacks and which are less resistant to ranged weaponry. Also, enemy soldiers will do anything to take out your heavier siege weaponry such as catapults, mortars, cannons, tanks, etc. Similarly to real-life combat, inexperienced friendly soldiers are quite clumsy in mid combat, but after surviving through a number of battles, you'll be able to observe an improvement in their intelligence and combat skills. CPU-controlled troops, however, rarely seem to engage in any formidable tactical maneuvers. In most cases, enemy soldiers won't be coordinating any particularly impressive combat strategies or counter offensives - they merely take their predetermined AI paths, often relying on numbers instead of wits. When unsupervised, friendly units can handle themselves excellently in battle. Unfortunately, sometimes they can get confused when you issue even a straightforward order; for instance, ordering a large army to climb down a relatively simple causeway or a slope can produce huge disorder among the ranks (some soldiers may jam, while others tend to take the long way around). Such a symptom was ever-present in Empire Earth. It came as a great disappointment that Dawn of the Modern World inherited a similar weakness in pathfinding. Although this doesn't happen very often, when it does, it proves quite frustrating.
What strikes you immediately upon the launch of the first campaign is the incredible visual improvement over Empire Earth. Everything received a solid makeover, from unit skins and treetops to realistic explosions and impressive-looking water effects. It's simply a joy to advance your armies through highly detailed environments and marvelously designed maps - which range from snowy regions, to grassy planes and huge mountainous areas. Also, players can zoom in to view every single detail on character models, which stand as some of the most impressive I've ever seen in an RTS. Regrettably, there are a couple of drawbacks we felt are worth mentioning, such as the frequent frame-rate drops, which can seriously obstruct gameplay if you happen to be running the game in 1024*768, 1280*960, or higher resolutions. We also witnessed some weird issues when we ran the game on our Radeon 9700 Pro graphics card - the option menu and loading screens flickering, making it virtually impossible for you to read the info displayed on the screen. Such technical mishaps persisted on being a great burden during the game, even with ATi's latest Catalyst drivers installed on our system.
The game's audio is clearly another aspect that deserves credit. Characters vital to the plot have been professionally voiced, while every unit acknowledges your commands with a unique vocal response. And, of course, a great number of epic-sounding music themes and a variety of other tunes will always be there to spruce things up.
When they made Dawn of the Modern World, Rick Goodman and his chaps at Stainless Steel appeared to have been gearing it towards addictive multiplayer gaming. Make no mistake, the single-player campaigns are fun, but the multiplayer gives you and your friends more freedom to create the RTS atmosphere of your dreams. Each side gets to use the unique combat skills of their units and hero characters to help them achieve victory. Also, up to seven players are able to play online, but we still need a chance to test that one properly.
Empires: Dawn of the Modern World may not be as involving and complex as Microsoft's classic Rise of Nations or Creative Assembly's epic Shogun: Total War, but it does blend many different gameplay elements that make it an exciting RTS experience. Visually breathtaking scenes coupled with intriguing scenarios and a well-structured storyline should be enough to satisfy any RTS fan.
8.5 Very Good
Three exciting single-player campaigns, compelling ambiance with great visuals and superb sounds, solid multiplayer, variety of units and weapons;
AI issues, choppy frame-rate, and technical issues with Radeon cards.
BACK TO TOP