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Star Wars: Empire at War is a real-time strategy game released in February 2006. It focuses on the struggle between the Empire and the Rebels that begins in the time frame between Episode III and Episode IV. It was developed by Petroglyph, a company comprising many former members of Westwood Studios, best known for their work on the Command & Conquer series.
Empire at War uses an entirely new engine that Petroglyph developed, known only as Alamo. The most recent patch was released on July 20th, 2006. In October 2006, an expansion entitled Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption was released.
There are four different game modes: Skirmish, Storyline-Campaign, Galactic Conquest and Multiplayer.
Skirmish mode is the "classic" RTS mode, and the most likely mode to be used online. Skirmishes come in two types: land and space. In land skirmishes, all players start with bases, and must research upgrades and capture resource nodes, while ultimately destroying the enemy's base. In space skirmish, the base is replaced with a space station that can be upgraded. The player "buys" ships to attack the enemy with, until the enemy space station is destroyed or the enemy forces are destroyed (depending on what option you choose). The player can advance in "technology levels" to access more powerful ships as the player gains more money. The space station can also be upgraded to better defend itself without requiring the player to leave ships behind to defend it. Skirmish battles require the least time investment, and so are best suited towards casual players.
Galactic Conquest is the sandbox campaign, where the player controls the struggle for freedom with the Rebel Alliance, or galactic domination with the Empire. Grand strategy, production, and resource management is facilitated through a two dimensional galactic map. The player receives funds from controlled planets to research, build defenses, and train troops. Further, each planet confers different advantages to its owner, although some bonuses are specific to a faction. For example, controlling Kuat reduces the price of Imperial Star Destroyers by 25% (but gives no bonus to the Rebels).
When enemy forces meet (either fleets in space or when one side's ground forces invade another's planet) a skirmish-style battle ensues. In Galactic Conquest, unlike Skirmish mode, the player can use only what equipment was brought to the battle (be it an X-wing or AT-AT). Factions must battle across both space and land maps. Each faction has at least one of three broad objectives for Galactic Conquest, which vary depending on which scenario is being played: kill the enemy leader (Mon Mothma or Palpatine), protect/destroy the Death Star, and/or completely remove the other faction from the campaign map.
All four modes are played in real-time. Days on the galactic map continually progress. When a battle occurs, Galactic time is paused while skirmish time begins. After the battle, the Galactic day timer resumes. When playing against the computer, the player can accelerate time or pause time on both the Galactic and Skirmish maps.
Both Skirmish and Galactic Conquest modes have online/LAN multiplayer components. Multiplayer Skirmish mode allows for up to eight players, while Multiplayer Galactic Conquest requires exactly two players.
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