Developed by Mad Doc Software, Empire Earth 2 follows in the tradition of the original game by being the historical RTS with the greatest span of time, with the greatest amount of civilizations, units, and environments.
Those that have played real-time strategy games in the past (and especially those who played the original Empire Earth) should have no problem jumping into Empire Earth II. Citizens are needed to gather resources (things like wood, gold, and food, but other resources can be seen, depending on the age or build new structures, universities are required to research new technologies, barracks need to start pumping out your armed forces, and so on.
There are a total of 15 epochs (Stone, Copper, Bronze, Iron, Dark, Middle, Renaissance, Imperial, Enlightenmen, Industrial, Modern, Atomic, Digital, Genetic and Synthetic) in the game covering human history from 10,000 B.C. to the near speculative future a few hundred years from now (23rd century). Each epoch has its own tech tree featuring dozen items to be researched in military, commerce, and imperial categories. Empire Earth II includes 14 civilizations (German, British, Roman, American, Greek, Chinese, Korean, Japanese, Egyptian, Turkish, Babylonian, Inca, Aztec, Mayan) to choose from, each of which plays differently, with unique units, powers, and bonuses. There's over 40 separate unit types (land, sea, air) translating into more than 350 different combat units. Each unit can be upgraded several times, and can be arrayed in different formations depending on what the situation needs.
The game includes several standard game options, such as campaign, skirmish, and scenario in the single player mode. The single player mode includes five main campaigns: an extensive tutorial (4 levels), Korean - The Land of the Morning Calm, from 2333 BC - 676 AD, Germany - Crusade in Prussia (The Teutonic Knights), from 1220 AD - 1871 AD and the United States - San Juan Hill, from 1898 AD- 2070 AD, as well as the so-called Turning Points, featuring important historical events such as the battle for Normandy, as well as the Three Kingdoms campaign (conflict in China after the fall of the Han dynasty), with the possibility of playing as both sides in the conflict. Every mission begins with the usual city center and a few peasants to get your economy going. Collect resources, expand your territory, research new technology and conquer the world. The difficulty level can vary, but there are some great challenges to be had that are quite entertaining.
Then there is skirmish mode, where most of the settings can be modified. You can restrict which ages the game takes place in, or just keep it to only one epoch if desired. There are 9 Victory Condition types to offer a wide variety of gameplay. These includes: Conquest, Crowns (number), Crowns (timed), King of the Hill, Capitols, Allied Capitols, Regicide, Hot Spots, and Territory Control. You can create battles for up to ten players, be they Human or Computer controlled. Of course, there is also a strong multiplayer component to the game with Internet and LAN play supporting a huge number of gameplay options.
Empire Earth 2 innovations:
Citizen Manager -
A tool set that allows you to make strategic decisions about the resources you are harvesting, even when there are hundreds of citizens. Citizen Manager Screen shows all the resources, how many citizens are currently gathering each type, how much free space there is at each type, and all your idle citizens. With only a few simple clicks of the mouse, citizens can be ordered to move from one resource-gathering chore to another. Unfortunately, the citizen manager doesn't inform you of the location of your citizens which always keeps you wondering about the whereabouts of your citizens (you will assign a citizen with a specific task with not being quite sure where they are exactly on the map).
One of the major new features in Empire Earth II is the ability to keep track of the action on multiple locations simultaneously. You can set viewing bookmarks (up to 6 locations) on any object or location in the game (clicking the PIP will swap that view with the main screen). For instance, you can bookmark your scout, and the PIP camera will follow him around as he explores the map. It's an extremely useful feature and really pretty cool.
The world is pre-divided into territories and expanding your empire is all about conquering territories. The interesting part is that having more territories has many benefits, like population limit, which goes up with more territory controlled. Also in order to get resources from a territory, you must control it. Territory ownership may also be set as victory conditions, instead of only as economic resources or strategic assets to exploit.
The diplomacy advances in this game are large. Relationships between civilizations aren't simply friend or foe. You can be neutral, allied or enemies. Peace treaties can be set up so that they only last a certain amount of time, or expire after a certain event has occurred, such as a declaration of war. You can also tribute not only resources but also units and territories.
War Planner -
The war planner brings up a map that shows all the territories, and color codes it to show who controls which one, and which ones are currently being fought for. There's the ability to construct a simple war plan, marking areas of advance on a map and then sending it to your allies. You can send your plan to other players and if they want, they can make some adjustments to your plan and send it back. Of course, they can also reject your plan.
All research are divided into three types of research; military, imperial and economic. Playing well in one of three major areas is rewarded with "crowns", which yield significant benefits. For instance, while you own the Crown (you only get it for a specific amount of time that counts down), you can choose a powerful bonus, like Strategic Bombing Doctrine, which gives your bombers 20% more hitpoints and they do 20% more damage.
Overall, this game is big and complex. The possibilities for strategy are enormous. There's a lot to do and the learning curve is fairly steep, but once you get the hang of things the game can be very rewarding, especially in multiplayer. I really don'thave much else to say for this game.In terms of a buying recommendation, if you're a real-time strategy gamer looking for the same old thing, but slightly better, then you'll be satisfied.
Minimum: 1.5 GHz Intel Pentium 4 processor or equivalent, 256 MB RAM, NVIDIA GeForce 3 or equivalent DirectX 9.0c-compliant 64 MB 3D video card with hardware T&L and pixel shader support, 1.5 GB of uncompressed hard disk space for game files, DirectX-compatible sound card and speakers or headphones, 4X CD-ROM drive, Minimum 56k dial-up modem for online play
Recommended: 2.2 GHz Intel Pentium 4 or faster processor, 512 MB RAM or more, NVIDIA GeForce 4 or DirectX 9.0c-compliant 128 MB 3D video card with hardware T&L and pixel shader support, 1.5 GB of uncompressed hard disk space for game files, DirectX-compatible sound card and speakers or headphones, 24X or faster CD-ROM drive, Broadband/LAN, DSL or faster Internet connection for online play