Although there has been no lack of “Star Wars” games, “Empire at War” is the first one to capture the scope of the saga. The story begins following the events of “Revenge of the Sith” and moves into the original trilogy territory, thus including elements from all six films. These elements benefit from being iconic, and fans will likely be thrilled to command an Imperial Star Destroyer or the Death Star, or to have Han Solo or Darth Vader under their control. For real-time strategy and “Star Wars” fans, this game essentially is a geekgasm.
The graphics are detailed but don’t slow down the gameplay, which is helpful when there might be dozens of combatants onscreen at a given time, and the sound effects are excellent. Developer Petroglyph has simplified the resource-gathering aspect that clutters most real-time strategy fare, focusing on the action. The player can attempt campaigns as either the Rebellion or the Empire, and the strategy for each is refreshingly different. This sort of game is perfect for this franchise, since it highlights the visual aspects and downplays the stultifying dialogue of many of the movies. Most videogames based on films are terrible, but “Empire at War” is an exciting exception to that rule.