Real-time strategy is once again coming to the Star Wars universe, with Star Wars: Empire at War. The RTS title, developed by several former members of Westwood Studios (the same team that brought us the Command & Conquer franchise), and published by Lucasarts, will see release on February 16th for the PC. Empire promises to have the level of detail that fans of the RTS genre will love, but will also be accessible to casual players.
Star Wars: Empire at War takes place a few years before the events of the film Episode IV: A New Hope, and allows players to participate in either Rebel or Imperial campaigns. In my experiences with the demo, I played on the side of the Rebellion. The first battle was in space, so I built my X-Wing and Y-Wing units, and told Han Solo to bring his Millennium Falcon. The battles are pretty much standard RTS affair: you tell your units where to go, what to shoot at, etc. If you have never played an RTS game before, it can get confusing at first, because there are a lot of things to control, such as building the units, telling them where to go, the works. However, Empire has a tutorial mode that takes you through a few missions, and shows you what to do, and how to do it.
Want to know how to build anti-vehicle turrets, or train troops? Go through the tutorials, and you will be taking the fight to either the Rebellion or Empire in no time. One interesting feature is the cinematic camera. When you click on this button in the game, the normal 2D view is changed to a 3D view, which allows you to view the action as if it were in a movie. One drawback to this is that you cannot control your units while in this view mode, so you have to be careful that you do not abuse it.
After the space fight was decided, I moved on to the desert planet of Tatooine, where I engaged in a ground campaign. When fighting in these scenarios, the player has access to two different groups of soldiers. One of them has missiles (good against vehicles, such as the Empire