One thousand years of history, one thousand hours of fun.
Stainless Steel deserves to be proud of their second effort. Having taken the shortcomings of their first game to heart, they've managed to present us with a title that fixes what needed fixing and adds a lot more besides. It's hard to balance the epic conception of the game with the intensely personal and intimate nature of the campaigns but Stainless Steel has managed to pull it all off somehow creating a game that cuts through a thousand years of history and still has characters that we care about.In terms of negatives, the camera's not as friendly as it could be in terms of compromising overall playability. Those gamers who prefer more of an economic focus will find the single player campaign a bit light in this department. Those who prefer the tactics of fixed force battles will find the economy in multiplayer is no more burdensome than it is in other games in this genre.Ultimately this is a good direction for the genre. You're willing to tolerate the larger missions because the pacing and narrative continuity keeps you interested in nearly every minute of the action. Multiplayer offers some compelling variations among the empires that gives each side (and each combat pairing) a unique character. Though the traditional RTS still has a lot of life left in it, it's nice to play through a title that presents things in a different format.
A tighter focus allows for more depth. Set pieces are well-chosen and offer a nice survey of the game's multiplayer potential.
Beautiful units and some spectacular water effects are the high points. The environments, particularly the trees, are somewhat stylized.
The cutscene dialogue and in-game voice cues are well done. I wish the music had been more prominent.
Smart unit design and balanced civ-specific abilities encourage you to think through problems. The AI opponent is tough.
Lasting Appeal (9/10)
The three campaigns are huge and well worth playing. Multiplayer adds considerable life to the title.