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View Full Version : [PC] Star Wars Empire at War - Demo Impressions


Knite
01-24-2006, 09:12 AM
Star Wars RTS.... that single phrase brings many different images to people's minds. Everything from "Man that would be sweet" to "Grrr, Star Wars stuff always gets royally f!@#ed up lately...".
I've download the Empire at War demo, and I'm going to say this right now. I am fully intending to purchase this game on release.

To start things off, yes, I like how a game looks. It absolutely influences my desire to purchase a game or not. No, it is not my end-all-be-all of decision makers. However, SW:EaW has this portion down nicely. Not the most technically advanced looking game, nor the shiniest or prettiest, but the clean lines of models and textures, special effects, and use of color definitely give this game a good graphical atmosphere. Definite thumbs up here.

Sound wise, well, what can I say? It's Star Wars. The music is nice, and let's face it, the Imperial March during the main menu? Classic.

So how is the game already? This game almost plays like 3 seperate games, so I will talk about each part seperately.

First, the Galactic Map.
This is a map with planets, all with names, and travelling paths. Here is where you organize your fleets, tell them what to do, build your bases both in space and on the ground, and keep track of your resources. The more planets you hold, the more money you have and the more units you can purchase and have active at any one time. YES, there is a unit cap. In the demo, it's not all that large, but large enough to get a taste of the game. You build barracks, mines, factories, and other buildings on the surface through this map, which then allow you to build ships, infantry, tanks, and capital ships, ALSO done through the map. Once you have your units built and in position, you can then drag and drop them on the destination, which will show you your options in a context sensitive manner. For example if you move Han Solo over the planet, you can either put him in orbit, OR, you can have him steal credits right from under the Empire's nose. Space units will enter combat if there is any, and land units will do the same. I would almost compare this to a "Total War" style overview, just more simplified.

General Combat notes:
Combat on both land and ground have similarities. They are done on a rock->paper->scissor balancing system, which is common to RTS games. X-Wings are strong against Tie Fighters and Bombers, but not Star Destroyers. Y-Wings are strong against Star Destroyers, but not Tie Fighters. That sort of thing. Units also generally have at least 1 special ability, like the X-Wing's "Locked S-Foils" ability which gives them more speed at the cost of firepower. From what the demo shows, it appears they really have worked on making balance here and I liked the feel. Also, smaller units are generally controlled in groups, while large units are more singularly controlled.

Land Combat
The closest thing I can compare land combat to is Ground Control II. You do NOT build a base (at least in the Demo). You also do not get your entire military on the surface of the planet to work with. What you have is "Reinforcement points". These allow you to land some of your units on the planet's surface. If you are not controlling one, you cannot bring in more units with dropships. You are limited to how many units you can have on the surface at any one time, and this appears to be tied in with how many reinforcement points you control (again, similar to Ground Control II). Control is RTS standard, including the CTRL-# groupings.

Space Combat
As far as I could tell, Space combat is a little different in that you enter your entire battlefleet into battle against the enemy's fleet. It controls the same as land as there is no 3 dimensionalness to the combat (although there is some flexibility graphically showing stuff flying up/down/etc). Capital ships have separate sections that ALL need to be destroyed to destroy the Capital Ship. Engines, hangars, guns, missle launchers, all are individually targetable, and when that piece is gone, it's shown both graphically with chunks of the ships missing, to functionally (as in a destroyed hangar cannot launch more Ties).

Conclusion
I'm really pleased with what I've seen. As I said, I now intend to buy the game. But hey, don't take my word for it, try the Demo. It's free!

captainstrombosis
01-24-2006, 09:31 AM
This is all about right. Except I would like to point out that on the ground battles. It does appear that the defending team gets to physically build units based on the structures you placed from the galactic map.

Also the ground combat gets a bit weird with how often/deadly the games weather is.

Yes there is a cap. (I honestly don't know where this hate for unit cap has come from). Like any game, Too many units = lag. It is not that bad. As even starting out, you get enough for several Capital ships and many fighters.

Not to mention the game seems incredibly moddable. As they already have several mods out for just the demo...Yeah, Just imagine what these Star Wars fanatics could do if they got their hands on something dangerous :P

On a final note, Graphics
The games graphics are nothing all that special. However That has many advantages.
1. More people can actually use it.
2. Less lag from online players who try to push their machines too hard. (you know who you are, and you will be punished!)
3. It really does look "Star Warsy", Old Star Wars. Not the shiny ep 1-3. But the nitty gritty feel of Star Wars ep 4-6.

Thats just my 2 cents.

Riproar
01-24-2006, 09:37 AM
Thank you Knite for the effort put forth reviewing this demo I've not played it yet, but am yearning too. Now I don't want the demo. I WANT THE GAME!

ZeroOmegaZX
01-24-2006, 09:42 AM
Ive played the demo as well, and added on the user made patch to try out all the imperial equipment, the full tech tree. The game reminds me A LOT of Star Wars Rebellion, but on a much more userfriendly and sped up scale. I cant wait to play multiplayer. This game plays really well and adds tons of strategy. I highly reccomend any star wars/RTS fan try this out becuase it actually adds new gameplay aspects to the lack luster RTS's we've been seeing lately

outontheporch
01-24-2006, 10:56 AM
I Had a blast with the demo. Space battles are fun as heck, but I'm still pretty bad at the land battles. The defending land team starts off with all kinds of turrets, etc, and those AT-ATs are hard to kill without them taking out all my tanks. Han and Chewie are seemingly invincible though, as is the Falcon.

GrinR
01-24-2006, 10:58 AM
I'm done with RTS as a genre until they let me see the battlefield I'm fighting on.

Also, the cringing logic of "bad graphics = runs faster" reminds me of Soviet thinking, "Less choices = easy decisions".

I miss Red Alert 2, where I could send in two battle groups and see them at the same time - where I could have a hundred units in a battle with no slowdown at all (on a computer that's about as fast as my cellphone is today)

I miss Total Annihilation, which was 3D(!) and had a zillion units onscreen.

And while I'm at it, I don't have any problem at all with building a base - in fact, I fucking love it. What I hate is when the base building is poorly designed or involves too much resource management (C&C/Starcraft had it about right).

joruussuun
01-24-2006, 11:02 AM
I'm done with RTS as a genre until they let me see the battlefield I'm fighting on.

Also, the cringing logic of "bad graphics = runs faster" reminds me of Soviet thinking, "Less choices = easy decisions".

I miss Red Alert 2, where I could send in two battle groups and see them at the same time - where I could have a hundred units in a battle with no slowdown at all (on a computer that's about as fast as my cellphone is today)

I miss Total Annihilation, which was 3D(!) and had a zillion units onscreen.

And while I'm at it, I don't have any problem at all with building a base - in fact, I fucking love it. What I hate is when the base building is poorly designed or involves too much resource management (C&C/Starcraft had it about right).
So you are waiting for Supreme (http://supcom.gaspowered.com/) Commander (http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/928861.asp) then?

GrinR
01-24-2006, 11:17 AM
So you are waiting for Supreme Commander (http://supcom.gaspowered.com/) then?

Eagerly. :)

Voodoo
01-24-2006, 11:22 AM
So you are waiting for Supreme (http://supcom.gaspowered.com/) Commander (http://www.gamerankings.com/htmlpages2/928861.asp) then?

HELL YES! And when I had forgotten about this game, you stand it up there to let its beauty light the dark RTS (damn it, maybe RPG too hell) "me-too" realm of games. If I were to be a game, I'd go gas powered as well!

This what I'm talkin' about!
http://www.ridiculent.com/uploaded_images/gasblender-751895.gif

trip1eX
01-24-2006, 12:14 PM
I'm done with RTS as a genre until they let me see the battlefield I'm fighting on.

Also, the cringing logic of "bad graphics = runs faster" reminds me of Soviet thinking, "Less choices = easy decisions".



I can't tell quite where you're going with those statements. They seem a bit contradictory.


I think 3d graphics has taken rts games backwards. You can't see sht on the screen. You can't have as many units. The game runs worse. I mean navigating around sucks ass. Turning your screen or scrolling or seeing your units thru all the crap on the screen. yada yada yada.

But yeah you can zoom in and watch your army man taking a rest break on a log and smoking a cigarette.


I think highly quality 2d graphics would be better. IT's amazing at least one developer doens't get their head out of their ass and do this. We could be running 2d at 1600x1200 and have a great looking game with a ton of unts and map space.

Plus I've said this a million times, but what about supporting that 2nd monitor. Almost every vidcard has a 2nd vga port. And who doesn't have an old crt monitor lying around. If you don't then you can probably find one for very f'n cheap. Surely a lot cheaper than the $300 vid card you need to run today's games.

Anyway it's just sad from a gamer's point of view that developers are stuck on just having the latest technology when really making a good looking 2d rts game would server many rts fans better.

Conco
01-24-2006, 12:15 PM
Did anyone notice that the Empire voice used in the demo was from Spike of Cowboy Bebop the anime. I looked it up on google and it listed him as doing voice acting for previous Star Wars games. awesome stuff, love that guys voice!

GrinR
01-24-2006, 01:31 PM
"I think 3d graphics has taken rts games backwards. You can't see sht on the screen. You can't have as many units. The game runs worse. I mean navigating around sucks ass. Turning your screen or scrolling or seeing your units thru all the crap on the screen. yada yada yada."

See this is what bugs me. "you can't as as many units"?? WTF?! We had more units in Total Annihilation and that ran on a 486SX! Who can seriously say that modern computers (say an Athlon 2000, 512 megs, with a GeForce6400 or so) couldn't have two or three hundred 3D units on the screen at the same time? The problem isn't the power of the computer, it's the methodology of the designer.

Units are designed (as you said) to have full facial hair and realistic sweat, but you can only get 10 of them onscreen. Maps have trees with falling leaves and splashing water, but you can only pull the camera back far enough to -still be able to see them-. It makes for great screenshots - but horrible strategy.

The games are also (because they are on a PC) designed with the lowest possible system requirements. DESIGNED WITH THE LOWEST POSSIBLE SYSTEM REQUIREMENT I SAID. I am so sick of hearing about how the game would slow down if there were more units - that is bullshit! Nobody says that kind of idiotic rubbish about FPS games, because you'd get laughed off the internet ("Well I'm glad the graphics are low-res and the effects are from the 90s - it runs so FAST!") The reason RTS games are shit these days is because Blizzard won the format war.

There used to be Westwood and Blizzard, where Westwood RTSs had much more battlefield visible and tons of units - but SHIT online play and Blizzard had less battlefield, more interface, and a limit on selected units. However it happened (DAMN YOU EA!!!!!111!!!11), Blizzard won and Westwood is no more. As a result, all RTS games since Westwood died look exactly like Starcraft and work on computers bought at WalMart.

thecrazyd
01-24-2006, 01:39 PM
Have you played Rome: Total War, GrinR?

agentgray
01-24-2006, 01:54 PM
Geuss what? The demo is not realy the "demo"

http://www.technical-difficulties.com/hacks/eaw/

GrinR
01-24-2006, 01:55 PM
Have you played Rome: Total War, GrinR?

Yes, really great game, although not reeeally what I am looking for. Closer to what I'm looking for is the Earth:21XX series.

Voodoo
01-24-2006, 01:58 PM
I'm right there with GrinR. Total Annihilation is still bad assed! Check out these system specs!

Supported Platforms: Windows 95
System Requirements:
Pentium 100MHz (133MHz Strongly Recommended)
32MB RAM
100MB Hard Disk Space
4x or faster CD-ROM drive
100% Sound Blaster Compatible Sound Card
VGA 256 color or greater Video system
mouse

Amazing. It is considered the best RTS and Ultima IV is considered to be near to best RPG. And in other forums we are telling eachother that we NEED to upgrade to the latest dual core processor and top of the line video card. My stance is, I will do that when the game play gives me a reason to, not the ability to see my balls reflect from a puddle on the floor of a hallway.

GrinR
01-24-2006, 02:00 PM
I'm right there with GrinR. Total Annihilation is still bad assed! Check out these system specs!



Amazing. It is considered the best RTS and Ultima IV is considered to be near to best RPG. And in other forums we are telling eachother that we NEED to upgrade to the latest dual core processor and top of the line video card. My stance is, I will do that when the game play gives me a reason to, not the ability to see my balls reflect from a puddle on the floor of a hallway.

LOL Seriously, my cellphone beats those specs!!!

(hey, TA for my cellphone!? *drrooool*)

Suicidal ShiZuru
01-24-2006, 08:22 PM
Just got done playing through the demo, already pre ordered!

About Spikes voice, cant remember the actors name, I think he is doing way too much. In almost any new anime I swear he is in it, and a lot of non anime things like this. Hes just too familiar to me since Im a CB fan and its one of the few I would watch the dub of.

captainstrombosis
01-24-2006, 08:56 PM
Btw Grin, Star Wars Empire at War is developed by petroglyph (A lot of the guys from westwood).

Maybe 2d games could make a come back. But I hope not. I personally like to watch the fights. Games like the Homeworld series (minus the bastard child cataclysm) and Dawn Of War, are simply awe inspiring.

Also, Most strategy games are NOT designed with lowest specs possible in mind, They simply have a very wide range of graphics options.

Please take into account that many people only buy these games to play online. And nothing sucks worse then having the game lag up and watching someone slowly drop out for 2 hours.

So if your in a 4v4, those 300 units you wanted to see on screen so badly turns into 2400 units you now have to render real time...

Before you continue your rage against the mega corporation, atleast try it out, The game does a nice job of things.

Oh and btw, Yes it is a demo. But there are many mods out there, Or hacks however you look at them.

dead
01-25-2006, 03:34 AM
I've got a question for those who have played the demo. Is the game open ended non mission based battles such as total war, or is it pre made story based missions like ground control?

Morratut
01-25-2006, 04:41 AM
I've pre ordered this game too.

I loved playing the game. Although I haven't beaten the ground battle yet :(

I guess I have to take out the factory otherwise the Empire keeps churning out units. Just haven't had chance to try the strategy as yet.

I like the way you can build your units and bases in the galaxy map, take over planets and watch the money roll in bwa ha haaaa!!!

I'll be playing as the Empire first ;)

Morratut
01-25-2006, 04:46 AM
I've got a question for those who have played the demo. Is the game open ended non mission based battles such as total war, or is it pre made story based missions like ground control?

I think you have a choice.

In the demo you have some campaigns not selectable. These have specific 10 planets to conquer type campaigns called outer rim for example.

However the one i'm intrested in is the full 80+ planets all over the galaxy open ended campaign. I think its called Galactic Conquest :cool:

I'll be playing that bad boy. It'll be open ended able to choose which planet to conquer next etc.

captainstrombosis
01-25-2006, 07:08 AM
While Morratats enthusiasm is refreshing :) It is 42 planets total(84 maps if you count the space fights)

Yes an no on the open ended side of things. While it does seem to give you a few choices as to how to go about things and where to attack, there seems to be a few key planets you will want to rush too. There are just 3 or 4 planets capable of making the largest warships, So obviously a good strategy would be to deprive the enemy of these area's. How this turns out in retail is yet to be seen. But there will most likely only be a few efficient ways to go about it.

However that is the trend with most games that have "open ended" goals like this. Simply because some targets will always appear more juicy then others.

P.S. There is both story driven campaigns and Galactic conquest style (open ended) and a skirmish mode. So there is a lot of variety.

Morratut
01-25-2006, 08:20 AM
Ahhh thanks for the clear up.

Yes there is specific routes between planets and also there are some choke points at certain points in the galaxy. In the demo I was looking at certain planets which had a lot more worth than others.