by Sergio Brinkhuis
reviewed on PC
Out of luck? Not this time
With the possible exception of the United Kingdom and to a lesser extent France, you're bang out of luck being European in this business. Most publishers won't ship their games to you unless you write in your native language and target your native country. As it happens, I'm Dutch and I write in English and that means that getting a game reviewed before it hits the shelves is? well... a pipe dream mostly. This time though, we're ahead of the game. You see, Earth 2160 has a Polish developer and a German publisher which means Europe gets it earlier than the rest of the world. The game has been out in Germany for some time now but earlier this month, Earth 2160 conquered the shelves throughout the rest of Europe. All this would have been even sweeter if the game would have been really, really good. Which I'm afraid it isn't. Read on and find out why.
Earth 2160 is the third episode in a series of RTS games that started with Earth 2140 in 1997 and was followed by Earth 2150 in 2000. Confusing eh, all those numbers? With each iteration, the game attempted to re-invent or at the very least, refresh the genre. Earth 2160 is no exception to this and introduces a number of novel features that we may well end up seeing in future RTS' from the competition.
As you might have guessed, the game is set in the year 2160, but it's no longer on Earth. Earth is no more and those who survived set out to colonize Mars. Mankind didn't learn from its mistakes and the feuds between the Eurasian Dynasty, the United Civilised States and the Lunar Corporation have continued on Mars as well as other planets in our solar system. Just when things are looking up, everything goes haywire again. Some new and alien faction enters the fray and throws everything in disarray. It's time for mankind to decide its fate, now and forever.
I've never been a fan of 3D RTS' as they tend to be so much less detailed than their 2D counterparts. Everyone jumped on the 3D bandwagon half a decade ago and I always felt the genre wasn't ready for that yet. Command & Conquer: Generals for instance, lacked any and all appeal for me. Give me Red Alert 2 anyday. Obviously graphics engines have evolved and Warcraft 3 was probably the first to prove that 3D and RTS can go well together and this has been cemented by more recent titles like the marvelous Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War.
Checking out the goods
Developer Reality Pump aimed high with their graphics engine and provided units and buildings with a great amount of detail. Especially the larger units look great even zoomed out to the max, providing enough different markers to determine things like what weapon type or armor type they're equipped with. Units are adequately animated and are on par with the other games in the genre. The attention to detail in the animation of buildings is rare though. Particularly noteworthy are the modular towers of the Lunar Corporation that literally collapse as you destroy them module by module. The screen tilting feature we see more often these days makes its entry into the Earth franchise as well, giving it the chaotic feel that is fitting for any war zone. In fact, all special effects are well done and that's true for every other graphical aspect of the game, with the possible exception that the maps are rather barren looking, but since our field of battle is set on formerly uninhabitable planets, that can be forgiven.
No Pros and Cons at this time