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Empires: Dawn of the Modern World is a history-based real-time strategy computer game developed by Stainless Steel Studios and released on October 21, 2003. Considered an unofficial sequel to Empire Earth, the game requires players to collect resources to build an empire, train military units, and conquer opposing civilizations.
Based on a slightly compressed version of world history, Empires covers five eras, from the Medieval Age to World War II. The game features nine civilizations: England, the Franks, Korea and China are playable from the Medieval Age to the Imperial Age; the United States, Russia, Germany, France and the United Kingdom are playable in the World War I and World War II ages. The game attracted positive critical reaction.
A real-time strategy game, Empires requires players to command armies and combat opponents from a complete 3D perspective to achieve victory. Matches end when all but one player have resigned or been defeated; the last player standing is awarded the victory. To win, players must develop and micromanage balanced and organized armies. The game features land, sea and air units, whose availabilities depend on the selected era. These units have strengths and weaknesses in a format similar to Rock, Paper, Scissors; each type of unit affects other units differently. Each unit represents one soldier or machine, whose speed and range depend on its type and civilization. A unit can be ordered to scout, guard, act defensively, or act aggressively. Resources—food, wood, gold, and stone—are required in different combinations to build structures and armies. Throughout the game, citizens gather resources and deposit them in Town Center structures.Empires' multiplayer component, powered by GameSpy, is freely available to any player who has an updated version of the game. Though as of 2007, this game is no longer supported by GameSpy for online play. Two to eight people or artificial intelligence opponents compete in either the shorter, battle-oriented Action Mode or the longer, defense-oriented Empire Builder Mode. The modes, civilizations, and map types are available in both single-player and multiplayer. Maps are randomly generated for each match, but conform to a general landform chosen by the host player of the match. The player also chooses the size of the map and the amount of units that each player can create. Multiplayer mode features groups of allied players called clans, which appear on the Empires Heaven clan list.
There are nine civilizations in Empires. The first four civilizations exist from 950 A.D. to 1900 A.D., which covers the first three ages: the Medieval, Gunpowder and Imperial ages. The other five civilizations roughly cover the years 1900 A.D. to 1950 A.D., which is during the ages of World War I and World War II. The Japanese are opponents in the game's campaign mode, but they are not playable in the game. Age progression requires a large amount of resources, which varies in size depending on the age and game type. Once a new age has been entered, new upgrades become available. New upgrades cost different combinations of resources, and can do anything from improving a civilization's fishing rate to upgrading units with enhanced technology. Once this change occurs, older unit types cannot be created.
Empires features three campaigns, divided into scenarios depicting major events in each civilization's history. The first campaign follows Richard the Lionhearted's unhistorical revolt against his father, King Henry, and war with Philip II of France. The second depicts Admiral Yi Sun-Sin's battles against the invading Japanese in the Imjin War. The final campaign tracks General George S. Patton from the Anglo-American invasion of Vichy French North Africa to D-Day.
Richard the Lionhearted's campaign details his path to the English throne. The campaign begins as King Henry's first son, Prince Henry, conspires to take England's throne before his father's death. Ensuing scenarios involve three of Henry II's sons and the imprisonment of Eleanor of Aquitaine, Henry's wife, during the English revolt of 1173–1174. Phillip II of France, who has ascended unexpectedly early to the French throne, also appears. Richard and Geoffrey II, Duke of Brittany, one of Henry's other sons, are playable units; however, the other historical figures appear only in cut scenes. Even so, this campaign is ahistorical. Several English units such as the highlander were never employed by the English. The French units do not include the Swiss pikemen and German pikemen used by the French armies; it is also not possible to employ battering rams or siege towers as used by both the English and the French historically.
The campaign of Admiral Yi (historically Yi Sun-Sin) occurs in the 1590s, and chronicles Korea's battles against Manchurians and the Japanese. The campaign focuses on the Imjin Wars−a six-year period when Japan invaded Korea twice—and the ensuing naval, land, and political fighting. The story includes the development of stronger, technologically superior Turtle ships. Yi Sun-Sin, Kim Shi-min, the king's advisor(Ryu Seong-ryong), and Kwak Chae-u, a citizen who helped lead a revolution at the time, are playable units; other main characters, such as political leaders, appear only in cut scenes. The campaign's conclusion explains the end of the wars and of Yi Sun-Sin's life.
The General Patton campaign takes place during World War II, and primarily describes the fighting in Northern Africa, Italy, and Normandy during D-Day. General Patton—the main leader in the campaign—is playable in several scenarios, Dwight D. Eisenhower appears in cut scenes, and Franklin Delano Roosevelt narrates the beginning of one scenario.
A custom campaign and scenario editor is also available; several unofficial custom campaigns and scenarios are freely available on fan websites such as Empires Heaven.
Empires: Dawn of the Modern World was developed from 2002 to 2003 by the now-defunct Stainless Steel Studios. The game is based on an upgraded version of the Titan game engine used in the company's previous title, Empire Earth. In an interview with GameSpot regarding development, Rick Goodman stated, "In my opinion, the development community should spend more time with consumers ... we need to do a better job answering the question, 'What do gamers want?'". Utilizing survey results, the studio focused on gameplay, balance, and innovation.
At E3 2003, Stainless Steel highlighted differences among the game's civilizations, which were created from a civilization tree, a chart of every civilization in Empire Earth. Jon Alenson, the lead designer, said in an interview that a civilization tree is "like a bed of snakes, where the biggest fattest snake represents the biggest strongest civilization." Stainless Steel diversified and balanced the most requested civilizations on their forums by using diagrams, unit families, tactical simulations, and strategy tests. To complement the updated civilizations, the studio revised much of the technology from Empire Earth.