Star Wars: Empire at War - Forces of Corruption
Expansion packs are funny old things. First they get you all keyed up and clammy with their hype machines, inspiring you to dream of long, wonderful nights spent reacquainting yourself with richly embellished versions of your favourite games.
Then, more often than not, they slap you round the chops with a set of unimaginative, tacked-on features, identikit soulless levels and a couple of new units/weapons (delete as appropriate). If you're an Empire At War fan gazing hopefully at these pages, it's my misfortune to inform you that Forces Of Corruption falls into the latter category. Set in the aftermath of A New Hope, this new add-on plants you in the shoes of a chap called Tyber Zann, a mop-haired pirate leader who's decided it's about time the universe sat up and took notice of his criminal consortium.
What Lies Beneath
On its well-varnished surface. Forces Of Corruption appears to be a bold attempt to infuse Empire At War with a radical new gaming mechanic, one that offsets the combat-heavy approach of the original and provides you with a collection of underhand tactics with which to corrupt planets without resorting to too much force (though all-out attacks are still very much an option).
Piracy, for example, generates income from every ship passing through a system and gives you access to certain enemy ship types. Bribery prevents planets from producing any new units. Setting up a black market allows you to keep abreast of the tech race between the Empire and the Alliance. There are other similar options too, only it really isn't worth wasting any more ink explaining them, as most involve little more than dragging the new Defiler unit onto a planet then clicking a box to select an action and waiting a few seconds for your order to be executed.
Granted, some of these strategies do require a frontal assault but while the space battles are as frenzied as ever, the dull ground skirmishes of the original are often further watered down by requiring you to eliminate just one specific unit to gain victory. What's more, the problems that blighted Empire At War's cinematic view remain, so it's still a toss-up as to whether you'll be ogling laser jousts or left staring at a tree/asteroid as the battle rages off screen.
Throw in a few minor bugs and some timid Al that rarely seems to attack your planets - effectively stripping the new campaign of any real tension - and its not long before you start to feel that familiar, chilling grip of disappointment squeezing your spinal column.
Fortunately, however, Forces Of Corruption isn't a total loss. For starters, the plot is superb and almost single-handedly makes it worth buying (see 'The Plot Thiekens', above). Plus, some faultless voice-acting, an imaginative collection of new units and weapons, and the appearance of many of our favourite Star Wars characters - including Mr Han Solo and his walking rug - further raise the bar. I Ultimately, though, this expansion pack offers much of the same as before, with a few well-disguised drag-and-drop options thrown in for good measure. Unless you can't get enough of the original game or you're a Star Wars fanatic who's been hankering for some new plot developments, then it simply isn't worth corrupting your hard disk with what has sadly turned out to be another promising but ultimately inadequate add-on.
Download Star Wars: Empire at War - Forces of Corruption
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP