I finished my review of Star Wars: Empire at War last night, and it's no doubt the most vicious assessment I've ever delivered on a Star Wars game. The full review should be going up tomorrow on Pro-G, but, in a break from tradition, I'm going to tell you what I gave it now, just in case my editor ups the final mark a little (though I doubt he will - I believe he trusts my opinion by now): 5/10
My advice: DO NOT BUY THIS GAME.
It's two games of ten year old gameplay (Command & Conquer, plus Command & Conquer In Space), given a Star Wars twist, shiny knobs and linked together with a strategic campaign map so shallow in its execution it doesn't reward strategic thinking (so serves almost no purpose at all). It's an utterly vapid experience, as the game action itself is so lightweight the game is clearly meant to be watched via the cinematic camera and not played. I hated it for being so downright lazy and unambitious, for taking control away from the player so they can munch on the eye candy and the more I played it, the more I hated it. I know I was probably the only person in the world who liked Star Wars: Supremacy, but that shows more ambition and depth than Empire at War, and Supremacy was made in 1998. If that's not an utter condemnation of how far videogames have fallen in standards of originality and innovation over the last ten years, I don't know what is.
I never, ever, in my darkest nightmares, thought that I'd give a Star Wars game 5/10. But I have. I love Star Wars to the point of obsession, but this is just asking to overlook and forgive too much for the sake of a license. LucasArts, if you keep shovelling out crap games, I WILL PUNISH YOU.
The worst thing is that Empire of War is selling like proverbial hot cakes. Just because it's shiny, and because it's a Star Wars license. And it's so desperately average, it makes me want to spit blood. Save your money and go buy a copy of Supremacy from eBay. It's not as shiny or pretty as Empire at War, but it's sure as hell a better strategy game.