Video game franchises are volatile entities. With each successive release of a popular franchise, publishers walk a fine line between pleasing existing fans and attracting new ones. Driving fresh sales with changes to gameplay can backfire terribly, as the fans that made a series a success in the first place may walk away in disgust. Yet publishers are reluctant to ditch previously successful branding, so a profitable series is likely to soldier on until its final iterati 2173 on resembles its first release in name only. Some games have such valuable pedigrees that even the worst gameplay isn't enough to hamper the critical reception; take the extended technology demo known as Doom 3, for instance.
Other games, however, such as Sierra's recently released real-time strategy game Empire Earth 3, can't survive on branding alone. 2007 has seen a number of superb releases in the real-time strategy genre, and the Empire Earth name alone isn't enough to carry the third game in the series if the gameplay isn't up to par. Given the generally excellent reception of the series' previous release, continued success for the series is no easy task - and by no means guaranteed.
Official Launch Trailer
A lengthy single-player campaign mode is the hallmark of the Empire Earth series. Unlike many contemporary strategy games, in which story-based missions structures seem an afterthought, Empire Earth games have focused on delivering a strong single-player experience. Loosely based on history, the gameplay timeline has traditionally followed a culture from near-birth to far into the future. Where Empire Earth 2 was an exercise in complexity, immense in scope and immersed in detail, Empire Earth 3 is a swing of the pendulum in the opposite direction. No doubt in response to complaints that Empire Earth 2 was too complex, developer Mad Doc have significantly decreased the depth and breadth of the core gameplay.
Gone are the dozen or more epochs and 14 civilizations which spanned three distinct campaigns. In their place is a World Domination mode, in which the player commands a region in a bid to gain control of the world, in a campaign which spans five distinct eras. The revamped design is a paradigm shift for the series, but does the newly-accessible gameplay make up for the loss of intricate technology trees and nuanced historical battles?
Games: Empire Earth III
News: Assault Heroes Demo Released Jan 21, 2008
News: Leisure Suit Larry Box Office Bust Announced Jan 18, 2008
Reviews: TimeShift Jan 15, 2008
News: Prototype Blackwatch Trailer Jan 09, 2008
News: World in Conflict v1.005 Patch Dec 17, 2007
News: World in Conflict Mod Kit Released Dec 03, 2007
21e4 Reviews: F.E.A.R. Perseus Mandate Dec 01, 2007
Reviews: World in Conflict Sep 28, 2007
Articles: GC 2007 - Day 2: Call of Duty 4, something new and cool Aug 24, 2007
See if your PC can handle the latest games: