This week we delve into an old classic from Petroglyph Games, Star Wars: Empire at War. A game that was released way back in 2006, it took you on a trip as either the Rebellion or the Empire. The game places you between episodes three and four of the Star Wars Trilogies. A real-time strategy game that puts you in the heat of the battle as you build up your bases, fleets, and planetary resources.
Empire at War has always been a personal favorite of mine. You get to lead the Rebellion to victory over the evil Galactic Empire, or take the Emperor’s Star Destroyers and ram them down the rebel’s throats. Don’t get me wrong I am all about winning the day as the Rebellion, but having a fleet of Star Destroyers at your beck and call would be pretty sweet. As the Rebellion you begin with minimal forces, and you complete story missions that are meant to help you build up armies. Since this is set before A New Hope, you will discover missions where you find your first set of X-Wings, you will continue to move forward by using C3P0 and R2D2 to steal Imperial Tech, and liberate planets from the enemy.
As the Imperials, however, you will start with significantly more planets under your control. It will be your responsibility to improve your military force to stop the rebel-hit and run attacks and push them back. You control units like Darth Vader, General Veers, and more as you dominate the galaxy and wipe the rebels out of existence. Controlling ships like the Imperial Star Destroyer, and land vehicles like the AT-AT are some of the reasons I continue to play this game even today.
Empire at War had an expansion called the Forces of Corruption, which added a story from the perspective of a criminal, Tyber Zann. This enabled a lot of new ships, vehicles, and ground units from the pirate perspective. The greatest thing about this expansion pack and the game as a whole is that even after you finish all of the story modes, it isn’t the end of the story. There has been a movement, since the game launched, in the modding communities to make the game better than it was. There are a number of modifications on Steam and on MODDB.com that you can pick up and add to your game. The two that I have been playing the most are one that changes the game to Stargate and allows you to play as the Ancients or the Wraith. This is a story based modification with space only at the moment, but still very fun. The mod is called Stargate: Empire at War Pegasus Chronicles.
The next is the Empire at War Remake mod. This mod takes the entire game and replaces the older assets with newer, more modern assets. They are still working to upgrade everything but the overall space combat and assets used for the Imperials and the Rebels have been improved. Ships fight and feel more realistic. It just received a big 2.0 patch update which continues to make the game better, and hopefully more stable. It can be found here.
It is creative teams like this that continue to push the limits of games that were made over a decade ago. They show us what this game could be if the good people over at Electronic Arts decided to make another, more modern version of this game. One that could perhaps be based in the First Order time period. Star Wars will continue to be the universe I love the most, and the games are some of the things that got me through my younger days.