Star Wars: Empire at War -- Forces of Corruption Review
By Adrienne Dudek |
Last year's Star Wars: Empire at War seemed like a surefire hit. The gang at Petroglyph managed to translate the popular Star Wars franchise into a real-time strategy format, recapturing the magic and appeal of all those backyard action figure wars we fought as kids. Though we loved the overall presentation of the game -- specifically the fact that it really felt like Star Wars -- we were less than enthused by the predictability of the combats, both in terms of the limited unit rosters and the tiny, straightforward maps.
Today the team has released a brand new expansion pack, Forces of Corruption, that not only builds on their previous successes but also remedies many of the problems we had with the original game. While it's no surprise that the game's fans are hungry for more content, the expansion pack is good enough to attract gamers who passed on the original based on our earlier criticism.
In brief, Forces of Corruption picks up where Empire at War left off, just after the events in A New Hope. As the Empire and Rebellion regroup, a new crime lord steps onto the galactic stage. Tyber Zann, a former partner of Jabba the Hutt, decides it's the right time for him and his Consortium to take advantage of the turmoil. After first settling his rivalry with Jabba the Hutt and his minions, he sets out to steal some of the Emperor's most prized possessions.
Since the designers were free from the need to stick so closely to the events of the films, they were able to come up with a very original story that lacks the familiarity of the Galactic Civil War but still feels like a natural part of that universe. Without relying on the movies to provide context for it all, the writers have put more effort into creating a plotline and cast of characters that makes sense all on its own.
Even though the core story is entirely new, the expansion makes great use of the characters and settings from the films and the extended universe. A wide array of villains find their way into the game, from Admiral Thrawn and Prince Xizor to the bounty hunters and night sisters. Although the Rebels are present in the campaign, they're sort of marginalized. Players hoping to discover the new Rebel offerings are going to have to seek them out in the Galactic Conquest mode.
We're still a little disappointed that the campaign doesn't tie in more closely with the action of the films. The few references to events from Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi are tossed off very casually and leave you feeling like you missed out on something cool and important. The missions that have you scavenging the wreckage of the original Death Star or stealing gas from Bespin are great examples of how the campaign can tie into events we're familiar with without simply rehashing the encounters from the film. We wish there had been a bit more of that.
In addition to the new campaign, the game offers players the chance to take on the open-ended Galactic Campaign or a variety of skirmish battles. The only real difference now is that players can fight in three-way conflicts and even pit the same factions against each other in offline skirmishes and online multiplayer battles.
Gamers who delved into the original game were rewarded with two unique factions. The Rebels and Imperials had very different abilities and so had to accomplish their objectives in very different ways. Zann's faction brings their own distinctive strategies to the battle, so players will have to adapt their own strategies accordingly.