Empire Earth: The Art of Conquest Review

The Art of Conquest (AoC) is an expansion pack that requires the original Empire Earth game to play.  So how do you expand upon the game that covered all of human history?  Extend it into the future and move the civilizations to the stars, adding new future-tech units and space combat.  AoC also adds three new campaigns which take place in Ancient Rome, the Pacific Theater in World War II, and a future history conflict involving a new Asian hegemony.

ScreenshotsThe campaigns are each six missions in length, and you must complete the current mission successfully to advance to the next.  Six missions might seem short at first glance, but all of the missions are challenging.  There aren't any transitional or warm-up missions, so there is more gameplay here than you'd think. 

The first campaign takes place in ancient Rome and follows the events surrounding Caesar's rise to power.  You begin play as Caesar's uncle Gaius Marius and later Caesar himself.  It's good to see the game provide a Roman campaign.  It seems like an obvious campaign setting for a game that covers the entire history of man, but it was conspicuously absent in the original game.

The Pacific campaign opens with the Battle of Midway, and follows the US island-hopping campaign through the invasion of Iwo Jima.  Needless to say this is a very naval and transport focused campaign, and as such is hampered by the game's poor ship pathfinding.  Ships will sometimes get stuck trying to get past each other, so you'll need to keep an eye on your fleets to ensure that they arrive at their destination.

The final campaign is set in the future, and centers on the new United Federation of Asian Republics.  As leader of this new federation, you must squash rebel resistance and expand you influence into space with the founding of off-world colonies.  The campaign opens in the digital ages and progresses to the new space age, giving you the opportunity to make use of the game's new spaceship units and related structures.

Unless you jump right into a space age random map game, the wait for spaceships in the UFAR campaign will be a bit of a letdown.  The spaceships in the game are essentially naval units, with planets as islands and space as the sea.  Spaceships are built in structures that can only be placed at the 'edge' of planets, and they inexplicably can not fly over land, er, planets.  If you were not a big fan of the original game, you shouldn't let the addition of the new space age alone affect your decision of whether or not to buy this expansion.  While they do add more variety to the original game, the spaceships do not represent a new dimension of gameplay.

AoC also adds a few tweaks and enhancements to the original game.  The first is the inclusion of a unique unit, structure, or bonus to each of the built-in civilizations.  These include an SAS unit for Great Britain that can swim and detonate charges to bring down structures, and Italy's ability to use gold and iron interchangeably for building costs.  This is a nice touch that adds some variety to the civilizations, but it doesn't alter the game's balance or gameplay significantly.  Other tweaks include graphical touches that include new terrain, animations, and environmental effects, but like all of the other changes do not have a noticeable effect.  The game still looks very similar to the original and suffers from some very blocky graphics when the camera is zoomed in.

In The End, This Game Hath Been Rated: 74%.  If you are an Empire Earth fan, then you'll more than likely enjoy this expansion and appreciate the gameplay provided by the new campaigns.  If you were not taken with the original, though, there's nothing really here that will change your mind.

System Requirements:  Pentium II 350;  64 MB RAM;  4 MB Video RAM; 4x CD-ROM;  450 MB Hard Drive Space;  Mouse; Empire Earth.