The little-known Earth series started its journey as an obscure, C&C strategy game among a sea of similar looking games – aka Earth 2140. Eventually it morphed into a more original sequel, Earth 2150, which presented a novel meta-campaign where three factions strived to fund their own space-faring project to escape a doomed Earth. Fast forward to game number three and we’re noticing a more story-centered approach, with a canned campaign, many characters and great-looking cinematics tying the plot together.
The planet, long reduced to nonexistence by an unstable orbit that sent it straight into the sun, has been abandoned by the three aforementioned factions – the ED, LC and UCS (read “Euro-Russians, haywired AI and former-United States) – have Reached mars and immediately start waging war for the planet’s prime real estate. The missions are nothing too original – guide a hero through enemy territory, defend your base, attack an enemy base; these are stuff we’ve done a hundred times in other games. Except where in Earth 2150 you would usually be able to conquer a base in 2 or 3 rushes, here that number can drag on.
Still, there are new details that make this strategy game its own beast, changing tiny little tidbits while still retaining the resources-for-units blueprint. For example. the unit customization feature found in 2150 is back and beefed up. You can design your own various units for the three races, and can research new tech as you play along. Subtle differences between the races define how you build up your bases, but not how you ultimately play. The ED, for instance, like building up huge inter-connected buildings, while the LC rely on pre-built blocks stacked on top of each other like futuristic LEGO blocks.
A fourth alien race gives us something entirely original, though. Instead of building, aliens absorb the various resources and then either clone themselves or morph into some new form of creature. As the aliens continue to absorb minerals and advance, the production tree begins to open up for the player. An interesting take on the old method of mine, collect, and build.
Ironically, despite its complex method of production, Earth 2160 offers a simple campaign. Each of the four races receives their allotted missions, and through it, your typical, boring sci-fi adventure is told. There’s none of the tense campaign decision making that made the less plot-heavy but more involving second game interesting. Still, the playable sides offer enough differences and action to justify going through at least some of the missions. The gameplay on offer here, unfortunately, hardly attempts to go too far outside the standard RTS mold.
System Requirements: Pentium IV 2 GHz, 512 MB RAM, 1 GB HDD, WinXP