Forces of Corruption ReviewBy Crazed Ewok
Empire at War was a fun game, a leap forward in Star Wars Real-Time Strategy. Excellent graphics with intriguing gameplay, it only lacked a few elements, most of them pulled from the game's release due to time constraints, to make it great. Its expansion, Forces of Corruption, does an excellent job at filling those gaps.
The game's campaign introduces one of the things the original game lacked - a dedicated storyline. As Tyber Zann, recently sprung from an Imperial prison, you work to restore your criminal empire against many enemies - the Hutts, the Rebellion, and even the Emperor.
As mentioned before, the campaign is far more encompassing, playing as a complement to the Galactic Civil War between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire. For the beginning of the game, you focus on recovering lost territory as the two forces battle each other. Eventually, you get directly involved in the conflict.
The game adds many tidbits from the Star Wars canon, which devout fans will find familiar. Dark Troopers, more planets, and much more are in Forces of Corruption. It even steps out of the original trilogy, adding several Expanded Universe elements, such as the Force-sensitive Nightsisters of Dathomir and the Eclipse Star Destroyer. Characters such as Grand Admiral Thrawn and Garm Bel Iblis show the abundance of EU elements in Forces of Corruption.
Unfortunately, the game is not without its pitfalls. The graphics were only on par with the original's. Although that is impressive in itself, this expansion pack relies on more cinematics to relate the story. Most of the time, regular units are shown in these cinematics, and it really doesn't look too hot when the characters' mouthes don't even move. The faces also are rather low-resolution and, while they look fine from a distance, they look quite unrealistic up close. In Real-Time Strategy games such as Age of Empires III, it has been demonstrated how effectively in-game cinematics are if the mouthes of the units actually move when they talk. Although this is a rather small detail, it reflects significantly on the quality of the game. If Petroglyph wanted to play out scenes with in-game units, they should have made them more lifelike.
Many people on our own forums complained about the lack of replayability with land battles. In that aspect, I think it's safe to say their problems have been solved. Ground combats maintains a new array of features, such as the very useful terrain map, which allows you to see the placement of buildings on enemy planets from space. It also is host to a new Orbital Bombardment feature, which is a killer feature...literally. There is also a troop transport, which also can be used strategically to protect troops in transit. Bunkers are used to serve as a stronghold for troopers. Dark Troopers, droidekas, and mobile defense units add a lot of spice to the once-bland ground play. Many of these features also move up the level of strategy needed to win a ground battle. It is clear that Petroglyph's focus was on ground.
Space has also received a few upgrades as well, though it hasn't been reworked to the same level as ground combat has been. The Consortium receives a number of new space vehicles, such as StarViper class fighters and Skipray blastboats. The Empire also gets its share of space units, such as the TIE Interceptor and Defender. The Rebels, however, have been left in the cold compared to the other two factions. They only receive B-Wings and MC-30 class frigates.
Perhaps the most hyped-up feature has been dissatisfying to the fans. The Eclipse Star Destroyer, with no modification to the game files, is only playable in the campaign as an immobile weapon of death. The Death Star II and Executor-class Star Destroyer are still playable, however.
My largest beef with the game is the Rebels. While the other factions received many units, the Rebels were left high and dry. They received no unique units on land. One wonders why the developers didn't think to include some canon units, or at the very least some totally unheard of units. The only major things they received are in space, or in the form of heroes such as Luke Skywalker that probably should have been included in the original game anyway.
The Consortium's arsenal of units is staggering, and perhaps a tad over-powered. Powerful tanks that just look amazingly awesome while firing, droidekas on steroids, suicidal Ewok bombers and Force sensitive rancor-riders are only the beginning in a long line of cool units for the new third faction. Their method of technological upgrade and monetary collection have exceeded my expectations - it really is fun to play these guys in Galactic Conquest. It, however, is a huge annoyance if you're playing as another faction. One must, if he intends to halt the Consortium's growth, bring a hero to a corrupted planet to remove Zann's corruption. This costs money, and it happens a lot. However, when you consider that you would be paying money instead of fighting a long battle on another world, this method of crushing the Consortium's coffers is unique and a breath of fresh air.
So, all-in-all, Forces of Corruption has mostly filled in things that should have been present in the original game. On top of that, it adds a whole new dimension of play as the inventive Zann Consortium. As for the other problems with the game, there is probably going to be another expansion pack (watch the last cutscene), and we can hope that these minor issues will be fixed.
My advice to you is to buy it. It is fun, perhaps more fun than the original game. Its minor flaws can be overlooked if only due to the fact that the Campaign is really awesome. May the Force be with you!