Empire Earth II: The Art of Supremacy Review
So how do you create an expansion for a game that spans the entire history of the conflict of civilizations from ancient times through the future? In the case of The Art of Supremacy you add a few new civilizations, some new campaigns, and toss in a few new game variants. Now the question becomes: do these additions add enough to the game to justify buying the expansion? Well thatís the question that Iím here to answerÖ
Letís start with the new civilizations, because thatís usually the first thing people ask about when an RTS game gets an expansion. The Art of Supremacy adds four new civilizations to the mix, two of which are standard fare for RTS games and two of which are pretty original. The French and the Russians are such RTS mainstays that if you havenít played Empire Earth II in a while youíll swear that they were included in the original game. The other two are drawn from the under-represented (outside of Egypt) continent of Africa: the Maasai and Zulu. To be honest, the French and Russian civs donít really bring anything new to the table, and neither does the new campaign that features the French and Russians battling it out in the time of Napoleon with its typical escort, hold off the attacker for x minutes, etc., etc. mix of missions. The Maasai campaign is far more interesting, set in the near future as the Maasai must fend off corporate invaders looking to exploit a newly discovered energy source on their lands. The last campaign does not feature the Zulu, but is still set in Africa at the time of the rise of Egypt, and sits between the other two campaigns in terms of interesting gameplay. One thing all three campaigns share is some of the more grainy cutscenes youíll find in any contemporary game. The Zulu are instead relegated to one of the gameís historical battle scenarios in which they must face the colonial British army in 19th Century Africa. The African civilizations shine more in the ancient epochs, though, as technology advances they begin to loose their distinctiveness from the other civs in the game.
Maybe youíre one of those who donít care much for campaigns and lives for the multiplayer action. In that case there are some new multiplayer game variants included with this expansion, although it is questionable as to how much youíll get out of them. Tug of War is played over a series of maps connected at the ends. Win the battle on a map and play proceeds to the next map down the line towards your opponentís ďendĒ. If you win the battle on your opponentís ďhome mapĒ, you win the game. This mode sounds interesting on paper, but in practice it is not that well suited to multiplayer play. You need two players dedicated to seeing the match through to the bitter end and with time to devote to a long play session as the battles inevitably ebb and flow back and forth across the maps. Territory Hotspots is simply a variant of Hotspots in which the victory locations are revealed from the beginning of the game. In practice it does not play out much differently than the original variant. Fealty allows losing players to stay in the game by serving as vassals to their conqueror. How many players will want to stick around to run another playerís economy after losing the war?
The Art of Supremacy also includes a civilization editor which lets you select your own civ bonuses, city names, and unique units. You canít give your civilization a unique look, though, so itís really more of a stat-tweaker than a full-blown editor.
In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 66%. The Art of Supremacy is best left to the most ardent of Empire Earth II fans.