Star Wars: Empire at War

Star Wars: Empire at War

Our money's on the big ugly guy.


As a real-time strategy game, Star Wars: Empire at War might remind players of games like Warhammer 40K: Dawn of War. Empire at War's land combat is typical of the genre where units counteract one another (for example, Infantry Platoons are strong against Stormtroopers but weak against Scouttroopers) and finding the right ratio of heavy, light, and specialized units is key to counteracting your opponent. But the game's space battles and Galactic Conquest option set the experience apart.


Battles in space can be epic, with agile Y-wing bombers taking on gigantic Star Destroyers. You'll need to refine your battle tactics to negotiate asteroid fields and skill-sapping nebulae. In Galactic Conquest mode (similar to the game Risk), you control the galaxy, moving your space fleet and land units to conquer planets. When combat begins, you then enter the land or space combat portion of the game with only the forces you have at the planet, so it's best to preplan your strategy.


Empire at War oozes the style of classic Star Wars. The Empire and the Rebellion duke it out in a galactic civil war that takes place during Episode IV: A New Hope. Luke sports an X-wing, and Darth Vader isn't some teenybopper heartthrob. The Empire is all about money and overwhelmingly massive battle forces, while the Rebellion relies on craftiness and skill by stealing technology and slipping small raiding parties past Imperial space fleets to fight planetside. You can purchase heroes such as Boba Fett and Han Solo from the movies, and even Mara Jade from the books, and they're devastating on the battlefield.


If Chewbacca lives on Endor, you must acquit.


Unit imbalance in Empire at War is a problem, however. Some units are useless unless fighting those they're designed to counteract. Space battles are two-dimensional, never leaving the same plane. When a land or space battle begins, all structures are already built except defense turrets. This can prevent opponents from building impenetrable fortresses, but it also gives players less freedom. Once you play a few hours of the game you get a sense of the repetition, but the mod community has already created cool, Mac-compatible mods to help balance gameplay - visit or to check them out for yourself.


The bottom line. Empire at War adds some interesting ideas to the real-time strategy genre, but the game falls short of being truly great. Experienced RTS players will feel as frustrated as a young Luke Skywalker training with Yoda in a Dagobah swamp. But if you get teary-eyed every time you hear John Williams' score, pick up Empire at War.

PRICE: $49.95
REQUIREMENTS: 1.83GHz or faster Intel processor; Mac OS 10.4.8 or later; 512MB RAM; 3.5GB disk space; 64MB ATI Radeon X1600, nVidia GeForce 7300, or Intel GMA 950 video card; broadband Internet for online play
Oozes classic Star Wars style. Some good gameplay ideas. Jar Jar-free.
For Intel Macs only. Unbalanced units. Repetitive. Lacks tactical freedom.





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I tested the game on an iMac (Rev A Intel model) and a MacBook Pro (last year's model) and it worked just fine on both machines. I know that the new Nvidia chipset is giving some games fits -- Unreal Tournament, for example, ran very poorly in our tests until Apple updated its OpenGL drivers in a recent patch.
So, having said that, I'm wondering a) if you've updated the system software on your Macs to the latest versions and b) If you've installed the 1.05A patch for Empire at War. I'm also curious if you've contacted Aspyr tech support, and if so, have you heard from them?



Here is another interesting comment about aspyr's attempt to port games to the MAC community. I recently purchased the newest release of Macbook Pro which comes with a GeForce 8600M GT 256MB 2GB or RAM and 2.4G Intel Core 2 Duo. I also purchased two games to along with it; one of them being the above EAW. Much to my surprise the game itself freezes after you get out of the main menu and attempt to play. Numerous attemps to contact ASPYR's tech support are getting me nowhere. Aspyr claims that the problem lays within the new environment which includes the 8600 GT card. So now I have a game that sits in its box because it is completely unplayable. Genius bar was able to replicate the problem however due to the fact that I did open the software box I can not return it.

Otherwise this game is amazing (yes I own this title on a PC, and was trying to move to the mac environment ... the above is what I got)

Ps. The other game I mentioned above is also published by Aspyr, and even though it runs... it is beyond LAG. SC4



You forgot to add: "will remain at $49.95 for at least 5 years." What's Aspyr thinking, making this game Intel-only? Intel Mac users can drop Windows on their machines and buy the 5-game set "Star Wars: The Best of PC" for ten bucks less than this, and (do the math) get 4 other solid games besides EAW -- including Knights Of The Old Republic, the Mac version of which Aspyr is still selling for $49.95 despite its being several years old, and despite the absence of a patch that makes it playable on Intel Macs.

And then there's Halo, Doom 3, Quake 4 and the PC-exclusive expansion to EAW -- all selling at less than half their Aspyr counterparts (if they have one).

Aspyr has either got to lower their list prices, make their games more compatible with a variety of Mac OSes, or get out of the porting business. They're no longer the only game in Mactown.

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