Age of Empires is set in the past, Command & Conquer explores the future, but up to now there was no real-time strategy game that covered the whole breadth of human history. Empire Earth fills this gap and lets you wage war with everything from prehistoric stone thrower up to futuristic battle-mechs.
Empire Earth’s mastermind Rick Goodman was lead designer of the original Age of Empires. Similarities are thus hardly surprising; in fact, his new game can be considered a 3D version of its predecessor. Despite the graphical leap, the game’s look and feel are very familiar - AoE fans will feel perfectly at home. The perspective is fixed in an isometric view, camera management is not required. In your quest to crush the opposition, you build settlements, collect five resource types, recruit troops (land, sea, air) and, well, fight battles. Unit improvements are no longer researched in buildings, but can be bought at once for each unit type. For example, you can increase your tanks’ hit points, attack value, armor, speed and range separately -- for a price. It's your choice whether to spend your income on a huge army, or on an advanced one. Throughout the campaign, you also earn civilization point for heroic deeds; you can spend these on general unit improvements, e.g. reducing your archers building time by 30%, or making your citizens 20% faster.
The game’s four campaigns span the entire history of warfare: conquer the Mediterranean as the Greeks, lead the English from the middle ages to the battle at Waterloo, change history by making the Germans victors of the First and Second World War, and finally create a Russian empire in 2025. The campaign missions are heavily scripted and contain quite a few adventure elements; for example, you must lead William Duke of Normandy safely through enemy ambushes. As the scenarios focus on a set time frame, you don’t advance through the 14 epochs (from the Prehistoric Era to the Nano Age). In skirmish mode and in multiplayer battles, however, you may lead your people from caves into skyscrapers.