Historians, rejoice! Another entry into the epoch-driven strategy-game section brings Empires: Dawn of the Modern World, into place. Empires is a 3D strategy game, set in many different time zones called Epochs. These zones represent the Medieval, Gunpowder, Imperial, World War 1, and World War 2 ages. Accompanied by ages, is a select number of civilizations from which you view the battlefield throughout time.
Another 3D strategy game, with very many possibilities appearing at every corner. As in almost all strategy games, you start out with a base and some workers, who thrive on your economic and structural integrity. They will gather apples and meat, gold and stone, wood and fish, and all necessary to keep your army moving. Although there are 4 resources that need to be kept in abundance, these are the aforementioned Gold, Stone, Food, and Wood.
With there being a nearly full time line of epochs (excluding Caveman and Modern+ times), there will be a lot to keep track of – because ALL of the civilizations have different bonuses and advantages/disadvantages that can turn the tide of war. Russia has weak but cheap infantry in WW2, and gets 7 workers for free. Chinese get two free town-centers, and are very versatile in their economic needs. These are just some of many pluses and minuses that you need to keep track of.
Strategy comes with the macro and micro management of all your troops and armor. Commanding a brigade of tanks to victory, because an Army Ranger sneaked in and destroyed some defenses is what it's all about. All of the civs have different soldiers, units, building architecture, and voices (obvious, no? Chinese isn't English). These differences are all noticeable in gameplay.
Pathfinding can be a little ridiculous at times; you tell 10 soldiers to go to a spot, and they end up going around everything and getting killed. Tanks also do the same thing, and are an even bigger loss. This same pathfinding was done in Empire Earth (previously by the same publisher and the game is the same engine) Gameplay isn't bad, but pathfinding can ruin it.
Rocks tumbling from a small crater left by a tank shell, and machine guns blazing around. The sound is the most detailed subject of the game, because all of the civs speak with Russian, English, German and so on, accents. Workers make hammering sounds from constructing buildings, and bombers (when dropping bombs) make a loud high-pitched dropping noise, to indicate that you're dead. Good sound, just not excellent.
Built on the Empire Earth engine, it looks nearly the same, as all soldiers look like a clone of an original soldier, and their faces are all smudged little 30 pixel (zoomed close) palettes. Tanks and explosions are satisfying though, and do a nice job of sparking things up. Fire burns gleamily and smoke rises and looks smoggy like it should. But even with all the enhancements the engine is starting to show its age.
After spending some time in multiplayer, and playing a couple of games against the computer in a Random Map skirmish, I must say that both modes are most enjoyable. These games were fun, fast/slow paced at times, and computer AI even at Easy mode, is still a lot to fight off. AI is off the hook: it expands, attacks, defends, and makes gigantic bases. People with slow internet will be happy. Skirmish itself is worth playing over and over, with many many different map types, settings, and up to 8 people/AI playing with each other.
An improvement over Empire Earth, with newer graphics, more settings, options, and the original EE editor. Some serious work went into this game, just not enough polish overall. If you were a fan of the original EE, go get it.