Empire Earth III Review

If you're at all familiar with the Empire Earth games, you may be surprised to find that Empire Earth III will be all but unrecognizable to you. Gone are the myriad of civilizations, replaced by three civilization archetypes. The series' trademark signature of eras that span the whole of human history has been condensed to just five, and you can advance through them a lot faster than in previous games. The historical campaigns are gone as well, replaced by a turn-based strategic world domination mode reminiscent of that used in Rise of Nations. Empire Earth has received such an overhaul in Empire Earth III that the game is more of a new game than a sequel. Change isn't necessarily a bad thing, though, so let's see if Empire Earth III is a revolutionary change for the better or if the developers broke something that just needed a little fixing.

The world-spanning collection of civilizations each with their unique combination of bonuses is gone. In its place are just three civilizations, Western, Middle Eastern, and Far Eastern. The Western civilization features a focus on technology and more expensive but higher quality units. The Far Eastern civilization is designed to mass produce cheaper units and emphasize overwhelming their opponents with superior numbers. The Middle Eastern civilization is focused on mobility and hit and run tactics. In practice the civilizations can be pretty much played in the same manner; build a base, create a small army, and then march across the map. In the future era the Middle Eastern civilization picks up some stealthy units, but that's about the extent of the practical difference between the civilizations.

The campaign game is centered on the new strategic mode in which you must build a world-spanning empire by capturing the territories mapped out on a globe of the Earth. Play on the globe is turn-based, and your turns are spent moving your armies around and attacking new territories. There's some light diplomacy with the other two civilizations available from the strategic screen, as well as some basic espionage actions. There are also some empire-wide improvements that can be made, such as building roads to speed movements or improving your espionage capabilities. It is also from this screen that you will advance eras. Most of your time will be spent in battle, though, which moves the game to a map for the real-time portion of the game.

Unfortunately many of these battles will feel like the same fight fought over and over again. In the early stages of the game you'll need to fight one neutral tribe after another and defeat them in the same manner - build a base, build some units, and then move across the map squashing the competition. Later you'll begin to clash with the other civilizations, which means that you'll need to build a base, build some units, and then move across the map squashing the competition. The enemy AI can't seem to do anything beyond sending out an occasional unit or two to go running through the middle of your town. When you reach the enemy's main base, you'll see an odd hodgepodge of units scattered here and there around the base without much rhyme or reason. As soon as your troops are sighted, every single defender will come charging out to meet you which makes the AI extremely vulnerable to feints. There's not much of a challenge here as even if your attack is thwarted all you really lose is the time it takes to build up another force and return for take two.