Empire Earth 2 – Game Features
Empire Earth 2 builds on the sucess of the first Empire Earth, and adds a number of new an innovative features to the Real Time Strategy genre. Such as the Picture-in-picture view, War planner and Citizen Manager.
One of the coolest feature I think in Empire Earth 2 is the picture-in-picture view. This feature is as the name implied similar to what you see in a PiP equiped Television set. In Empire Earth 2, it allows you to keep track of the action on multiple locations simultaneously. No longer do you have to jump frantically from one location to another to manage your battles, as well as your economy, or coordinate multiple groups spread across the map. The Picture-in-picture viewer lets you also control the units directly from within the viewer, so essentually its like having your main view widen to encompass any place on the map you choose. Not only that, the picture in picture view can store up to 6 locations! These views can also be automatically cycled, or popped up into the main view or zoomed to where an alert has taken place. You can access the picture-in-picture viewer in the other game view modes like War Planner or Citizen Manager, and you can even turn off the picture-in-picture view all together if you choose.
One of the most innovative and welcomed features in Empire Earth is the War Planner. This is a separate overlay screen that you can use to plan your strategy on the fly, and then share them with your allies in order to co-ordinate an attack. The war planner view is a more broad and less detailed view of the entire map, and is equiped with “white board” style markup tools for you to put your plans in “writing”. Now, of course that’s the expected way to use the War Planner, but it can be used to great effectiveness to taunt or deceive your enemies, or maybe your current, with an emphasis on current, allies in those Sole Survivor style games! Oh, and no worries about missing the action while in this other screen, the Picture-in-picture feature will let you keep an eye on the action!
Another great innovative feature provided in Empire Earth 2 is the citizen manager. This is another separate overlay screen that lets you control all of your citizens at one place. From this screen you can see the economic view of your map such as where resources are located, and how many of each citizen you have collecting which resource. You can simply click on a resource type to add or subtract citizens from the tasks, rather then having to manage each citizen individually. This feature is great mid to late game, when the macro-economics of your empire is more important and you just want to make sure your economy is humming along rather then micro-managing each citizen to collect a resource for a precise amount of time and then early drop a resource so that you can optimize a build order.
Like most historical RTS’s Empire Earth 2 features an “age” advancement feature. In Empire Earth 2 as it was in the original it is called “Epochs”. There are a total of 15 epochs in Empire Earth 2 covering human history from 10,000 B.C. to the near speculative future a few hundred years from now. The 15 epochs are as follows: Stone, Copper, Bronze, Iron, Dark, Middle, Renaissance, Imperial, Enlightenmen, Industrial, Modern, Atomic, Digital, Genetic and Synthetic. You can restrict game play to within any of the 15 epochs.
One innovation that is new to Empire Earth 2 is that classification of Wonders and power to regions. This is not simply having unit and building graphics to match their appropriate civilizations, or regions as is often the case. But in Empire Earth 2 determines the types of Wonders available to you, as well as, providing the different civilizations that share a region a common set of semi-unique powers. These powers are wide and varied and changes with the epochs.
There a large assortment of civilizations that are available to play in Empire Earth 2. Each civilization possesses unique powers, in addition to their region powers. Each civilization also has 3 unique units which are generally more powerful then their counter parts. The civilizations included in Empire Earth are as follows: America, Aztec, Babylonia, Britain, China, Egypt, Germany, Greece, Inca, Japan, Korea, Maya, Rome and Turkey.
In past RTS’s the map was essentually neutral to all players (or computer opponents), that is you can build and move anywhere. There wasn’t really a defined sense of where you empire was, and more like clusters of buildings that was yours or someone else’s. Empire Earth 2 introduces the concept of territories. This system divides the map up into sections which define the extent of a civilization by physical size. These territories restricts what and who and how many and how long to build each building each civilization can build on them. Territory ownership may also be set as victory conditions, instead of only as economic resources or strategic assets to exploit. So it makes you want to take specific territories in very concrete terms.
Empire Earth 2 introduces the idea of Crowns to the RTS genre. This system is based on the tri-partite technology model that forms the basis of the game. All research are divided into three types of research; military, imperial and economic. Each of these groups effect and enhances your civilization in a stereotypical way. Military researches generally help boost your military units, Economics researches your ability to collect resources etc. The crown system takes this further by awarding “crowns” for each of these three categories as the game progresses for you to exploit additional powers that become available to you as a holder of one or more of these crowns.
There are 9 Victory Condition types to offer a wide variety of gameplay. These includes: Conquest, Crowns (number), Crowns (timed), King of the Hill, Capitols, Allied Capitols, Regicide, Hot Spots, and Territory Control. If you want more details on each game type, check out this link. Sole Survivor is an additional option for Conquest, Regicide and Capitols. Essentially, if one team wins, their alliance is off and it’s last man standing. There is also the typical game speed, epoch selections as well as pop cap that you find in typical RTS’s. But in Empire Earth 2, you can also customize almost every aspect of the game parameters from within the game start menu. This allows you to tweak the inherent game parameters without having to mod the game files, so that you can for example make defenses in the game more or less powerful, or change the research speeds or make units cause more damage points in general to suit your own personal preference in terms of game pacing. You can also play up to 9 other opponents, computer or live people! We’ve often see game accomodate up to 8 player slots, but finally we have Empire Earth 2, that allow the whole “family” (or clan) to join the fun! Another innovation in game play mode is the starting forces quick start. This option allows you to select from one of three starting sizes for your initial setup (small, medium and large). But this is not all! You can then customize these forces to determine what type of Empire you want. You can be balanced or have a military, imperial, or economic emphasis. After that you can even refine it to be aggressive, defensive or balanced. These effects not only what units you get to start off with, but also the buildings as well! Built orders just got kick up a notch!
The diplomacy system in Empire Earth 2 is among the most innovative and sophisticated I’ve seen in RTS’s. Not only can you send and receive tributes from other civilizations in the game, you can also tribute not only resources but also units and territories! Relationships between civilizations aren’t simply friend or foe. You can be neutral, allied or enemies. Even as such these three stances are not as simplistic as RTS’s in the past. You can be allied but only share certain assets which you can customize quite precisely. For you can propose to another player to allow an alliance which only allows trade, and trade units to enter each other’s territory or trade relationship for a certain period of time. This type of precision also applies to other types of units and abilities, from economics to military, Line of Sight, border, build, and resource permissions. So you no longer have to give away the pin number to your bank account to your allies, but define very precisely what kind of relationship you want with each of your in-game opponents. This is sure to give in-game diplomacy a whole new dimension of machiavalian intrique!
Empire Earth 2 also introduces a new tool for unit control that has been a long time coming. Often it was near impossible unless you had great speed and dexterity to have coordinated attacks with several groups of troops without being some what of a gamble if one group would attack at the right time or not. With the coordinated attack button. You can issues a set of orders to any number of units or groups, and then release them to do your bidding at the push of a button! This feature will sure to make flanking attacks or attacking on multiple fronts something a lot more impressive and coordinated.
Empire Earth 2 also mixes in weather into the game. It doesn’t simply serve as eye-candy or atmospherics. But also effects the way the units behave in the game. Poor weather will make troop movement over land more difficult and reduce their line of sight, or make arial attacks impossible. You can also play without weather effects also if you wish.
Empire Earth 2 is fully 3D. All units and buildings are in 3 dimensions and arent simulated. You can also rotate your camera view completely all the way around 360 degrees to see all sides of the game map. You can also zoom in and out naturally. So setting a view of the action will now be totally at the hands of the player, and not be restricted by the game designers.
Over 500 Units and Building Types
Empire Earth 2 features a staggering number of unit and building types. This will certainly allow scenario designer alot more flexibility and historical accuracy buffs less to complain about. There are for example two types of heavy infantry and two types of seige weapons within each epoch. There are also veteran and Elite upgrades for each of the unit types. There’s a wide variety of land, sea and air units to be sure. But some stand outs to me are the satellite unit and paratroop plane. Buildings like the units have different graphics depending on which region they belong to. Naturally the unique units for each civilization further enhances the unique look and feel of each civilization. As far as buildings, the standout is bridges and roads. Bridges have long been avoided in most RTS’s but Empire Earth 2 finally lets us do some advanced civil engineering on the map!
Like most RTS’s Empire Earth comes with a post game set of statistics for the number crunchers. But what sets Empire Earth 2 apart is the battle reports that also comes available post game. This feature lists out all of the battles each player had been involved in and lists them in a quasi-journalistic way, to create more of a historical atmosphere, rather then simply presenting raw data and charts. Just to be clear though, you also get to see all the tables and charts of your game if you wish. However, these battle reports aren’t just for flavor, but includes a list of units and buildings involved in the battle, and who won.