Empires Apart - PC Review

Empires Apart is a beautiful mess of a game. Designed with competitive multiplayer in mind, Empires Apart takes the fast-paced action of a professional StarCraft II match and sticks it into a graphically-stunning world that is a near-mimic of Age of Empires. Wear it falls flat though, is in the fact that if you are playing more casually, you will be destroyed, period. Speed is key and the utterly ridiculous keybindings do everything they can to prevent you from efficiently building your empire and destroying your enemies. With a little balance and far more work put into the keybindings and interface, Empires Apart could be an excellent alternative to RTS gamers that are tired of being utterly destroyed in the StarCraft II ladders.

With no real campaign, solo players like me will gravitate towards the single player games and skirmishes, so if possible play with a friend or four as that is where the real magic begins. Empires Apart shines as a 2v2 game where one teammate can focus on defense and the other offense. While to many this may seem like a risky move, with the current balancing in Empires Apart it is quite fitting. If one teammate can rush to mid-end game units while the other turtles for both team members, it will pay out in dividends. Not because a single person could easily take down two opponents, but because it allows one team to really accomplish what Empires Apart is really about and that is …

Resource management.

Large armies can be easily decimated so the primary goal for any player here should be to expand as fast as possible to control the various gold and stone nodes on the map; without those the other teams will need to rely on gathering lumber (a slow and tedious process) to then sell at the market (which is extremely inefficient and market prices will change the more you sell of a specific resource). If one side can gather enough nodes and protect them, then the rest of the game is quite simple; build inexpensive expendable units and whittle down the enemy teams until a small but deadly mid-end game army can rush through the various buildings of the enemy to strike at their town center. Once the enemy's last town center is destroyed a timer will appear and once it reaches zero that player loses. This is why it is important to have a solid team of two players, one focusing on defense the other on offense, as it can greatly reduce the often-frantic pacing that Empires Apart has.

In fact, the very speed of the game is something that is a bit difficult to get used to; take a standard RTS single-player mission, ramp it up to 10 on the "how fast can I die" factor, then there you have it. Admittedly it is not as fast as some pro StarCraft II matches I have seen, but for something that is far less "hardcore," Empires Apart is a speedy one.

The issue though, comes in to balancing. A small group of about a dozen units can absolutely tear through significantly larger armies, even if those armies are early game they should be able to put up something of a fight. Unfortunately they do not. I had a large army (about 30-40 units) of fully upgraded spearmen/skirmishers and archers that got absolutely THRASHED by four heavy cavalry units, four mounted archers, and a handful of skirmishers. I was bamboozled. Heck, even in StarCraft II a pile of Marines can do wonders, but alas, StarCraft II this is not. Nor is it up to the standards set by Age of Empires. But hey … at least it is pretty looking! It is just unfortunate that Empires Apart is less about tactically smashing your opponent and more about the end-game rush to get the nigh-invincible units; better balancing equals greater variation in gameplay. Perhaps we will get there one day, but today is not that day.

Graphics and good sound design can only go so far until you really start seeing the warts of a game and while Empires Apart is not horrible, it does feel confused with its balance issues and its push for end-game runs. A little more tweaking and the buttoning up of features/upgrades for your units and it could be an excellent Indie-style near-competitive RTS title. Heck, if there was a bonafide single player campaign for Empires Apart, it would be far, far more enjoyable than it currently is. Not to say it is not fun, it absolutely is, but it is only fun for short stints at a time.

Game Information

Slitherine Ltd.
Single Player
Other Platform(s):

Provided by Publisher

Article by Robert


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