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SWM- Game Vs. Game: Empire at War vs Galactic Battlegrounds

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Game VS Game

SW Galactic Battlegrounds (SAGA) VS. SW Empire @ War

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Hello everyone!!! Welcome to my first official Game vs. Game post for the website! For this event I chose the two Star Wars RTS (real time strategy) games. Please note each category only 1 game can earn a max of 1 point if they win it or if its a tie they both earn 1/2 points. I’m going to call a tie a tie whereas Jon previously referred to it as a push. Expect to see both versions in future Game Vs. Game posts or videos they are essentially they same thing in terms of point scoring.

Both games came out in the 2000s and as previously stated they both are RTS games. Now Star Wars Galactic Battlegrounds was originally released on November 11, 2001 and its expansion Clone Campaigns was released on May 14th, 2002. Empire at War which was originally released on February 16th, 2006 with its expansion being released the same year in October. Both games received general positive reviews of course scores varied for both of them. But we enjoy games here for what they are not for arbitrary numbers given to them. That being said let’s compare the two in Game vs. Game.

Note for this Game vs. Game post I have added extra categories or extended them;

Category: Playable Groups

The first category is an interesting one. In Empire at War there are only two factions initially that can be played. The Rebel Alliance and The Galactic Empire. With addition of its expansion the total number of factions in Empire at War happens to be three. That’s right the expansion has only added one playable group that being the Zann Consortium which is basically a neutral pirate group. If I was including mods (I’m not) there’s one solid mod out for Empire at War that removes The Rebels and The Empire and replaces them with the Galactic Republic and the CIS allowing you to fight clone troopers versus droids it’s a pretty cool addition but as it stands there’s only three playable groups in official releases.

The Galactic Battlegrounds game however is the complete opposite. In the base game there are six playable groups that include: Gungans, Royal Naboo, Wookies, Trade Federation, The Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire. If that wasn’t already a declaration of victory the expansion added two more, one more over Empire at War’s expansion. The expansion groups happen to be the Galactic Republic and the CIS or referred to in this game as the Separatists.

Without showing (too much) bias I want to point out the two races that shouldn’t have been in this game… the Gungans and the Royal Naboo. I say this even though its funny to have an entire team of every other race pick on a player or npc being the Gungan. While that’s true I feel that this game could have included say a race/group like The Hutts that’s just a ragtag group of aliens and other mercenary units. And the game still could have had a Naboo group…one that mixed Gungans and the Royal Naboo units. Which to me would have been more true to the Universe. The Naboo had previously relied on the Gungans as the Gungans actually had armies where as the Naboo were peaceful and at best they had the technology. Together they kept the world Naboo safe.

Regardless the shear number of playable groups give this one to Galactic Battlegrounds.

Winner: Galactic Battlegrounds

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Category: Game Units

Many people would consider this a category that should have been just added into playable groups but I disagree. While Galactic Battlegrounds has more playable groups and you might assume that its game units would be good this is where reality starts to differ. Every group in Galactic Battlegrounds plays the same by far and large and because of the game engine it runs on every race has the same kind of units. If one has a mortar unit well then they all have it. Which is a criticism of this game, it has a lot of non-cannon units prior to the cannon changes.The most egregious issue in Galactic Battlegrounds for me when it comes to the units and the armies as a whole. They all play the same.

In contrast Empire at War has units that are specific to the groups it has, they also have heroes that affect the game and the way it is played. Unlike Galactic Battlegrounds the armies in Empire at War are split between space and land and battles for both do take place. While most units do have copies in the three groups the actual groups have their own true to in universe battle strategy. The Empire has more main Battle cruisers of which there are several Star Destroyer Variants as for their land armies they have a lot mechanized units which cost a lot of points to use. Where as the Rebel Alliance has more smaller nimbler ships and a lot of their ground units are equally designed for the hit & run tactics the Rebel Alliance operated on and costs less to use. For this I’m giving the category to Empire at War.

Winner: Empire at War

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Category: Game Controls & Style

As far as the games control there aren’t any major technical flaws at least not now in 2016. Yeah, yeah I know [current year] but both games do adequate jobs at explaining how to play in their respective tutorials. Empire at War’s tutorials aren’t as long as Galactic Battlegrounds but as far as story developing they only play into the rebels beginning story. With Galactic Battlegrounds tutorial however is a story unto itself with a beginning, middle and end.

Of course that’s all great and we already know they are RTS games but they happen to be two different kinds. Galactic Battlegrounds is based not only Age of Empire but was entirely built upon Age of Empire & Age of Empire 2’s actual game engine. That means each game plays out more about getting resources, upgrading your age or in this case tech level in a given scenario. This is fine but with some scenarios that are connected (like in the campaign) you don’t always have what you had at the end of the previous scenario even if the next one is on the same planet (on the same map). This kind of really shows if you build up not only your forces but also your base area. And it can be frustrating to learn you played a level a little too long only for all the work to have been undone.

However Galactic Battlegrounds also has a scenario editor and you can make your own campaigns by stringing along a series of scenarios which is always awesome for those of you who are interested in bringing your own flair to a game. And if you aren’t you can at least enjoy those scenarios or campaigns made by other players. (However this may not exist, see below)

Empire at War however is styled more after command & conquer and games similar but unlike Galactic Battlegrounds, Empire takes only cues and doesn’t use the whole engine. In Empire instead of directly getting resources you’re only dealing with credits after all if you have the dosh you could theoretically buy whatever resource you need. However you get credits by holding worlds and at the end of a standard galactic day you get paid. Each planet is worth a certain value and many plants have strategic bonuses. Some may decrease the cost of a certain troop or space unit while others might make a unit stronger or harder to kill. Basically your tasked with liberating or conquering planets in the Star Wars universe. Granted on a very limited scale for a universe. Each planet is connected to several others but in true Star Wars fashion you cant go from one planet to another unless you have the navigational track to do so and you won the planets… unless your the third faction in which you can bribe your way past planets (you don’t control).

In Empire you have the ability to play one off scenarios where you have to capture mining facilities to gain the money you need to raise your forces instead of the long campaign of capturing planets and protecting them. Some of the most fun I’ve had happens to have been with space scenarios in this game.

Alas as far as I can tell both games no longer have multiplayer server support so for people such as myself you can’t play readily. I would say that’s not completely true however considering you can set up virtual LAN’s or use other methods to make your games able to play with friends but you can’t just play against a random player. I also am unsure how affected the scenario editor in Galactic Battlegrounds is due to the loss of the game servers. Now you can still make, save and play maps but I am unsure if you can download others at least again in terms of the game itself.

Because these games are two different RTS beasts I’ve decided to give this category to both mostly because it’s due to personal preference. I actually enjoy both games for their styles and how different they are.

Winner: Tie

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Category: Story

This category is going to be short and not at all go through their stories. Partially because if you haven’t played these games I don’t want to give away too much. Generally speaking the stuff I can’t give away… you already know: the stories in these games obviously follow the general story of Star Wars. In Empire as the Rebellion you are trying to gather resources and eventually need to put down the Death Star. The reverse is of course your trying to conquer the galaxy and build and protect the Death Star. As for Galactic Battlegrounds some of the stories within take place at parts of the stories that we don’t see in the movies but that may take place in the (Legends) extended universe.

I could go through those stories because they do add some things in Galactic Battlegrounds they even have some non-canon stuff/Easter eggs but again aren’t spectacular. You do get some new story and lore though for your troubles and in Empire there’s Lore people might not know tied to planets that you can read in game which is awesome if you don’t have access tot he Star Wars Universe guides. But what everyone wants to know: are these games worth playing for their stories? Yes and Yes tho I would say you need the complete collections of these games (so Galactic Battlegrounds: Saga, and Empire at War Gold) and that’s because the expansions are where the story you want is located.

For Empire the story really worth playing is on Tyber Zann and the Zann Consortium (Forces of Corruption expansion) which is a rival to both the Hutts Cartel and the Black Sun crime syndicate and yes they both show up in the story… While you do have to deal with the Rebels and the Empire the whole basis of this story is money. You run a crime syndicate in the Star Wars universe.If you were always interested in third parties in the Star Wars Universe then I would suggest picking it up for this reason.

For Galactic Battlegrounds the story you’re seeking is in the Clone Campaigns expansion, as you meet Sev’rance Tann who is one bad ass female Chiss who happens to fight on the side of evil and you meet Echuu Shen-Jon who is a Jedi Knight who obviously fights on the side of the Galactic Republic and the light side. If you think Echuu Shen-Jon is familiar well then you probably have played the Rebel campaign of this game. That means that this is back story for Shen-Jon as yes you guessed it he has been a Jedi in exile. Which basically means the Empires founding slowly has shown it’s ineffectual side again as they allowed so many Jedi’s to exist.

Of course the question called to mind is which is better? Well that’s not for me to tell you because again they both are worth playing for some of their stories. Each game ends a bit differently with Empire being left on a note of well imagination to the player specially since the Canon situation is as it is at the end of Forces of Corruption. Galactic Battlegrounds plays into the overall story of Star Wars and adds extended universe content but with the end of Clone Campaigns you’re basically funneled back into the original game. Normally I would say that it’s weaker than Empire for doing so but rather it fleshes out a character and his motivations that they originally started and its overall done well.

Again I’m going to give this category to both games for different reasons.

Winner: Tie

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Category: Visual Aesthetics

When it comes to visuals (graphics) of a game or any visual medium its always tempered by the time in which you’re talking about that thing. For example if looked at Ocarina of Time today after having played the Witcher 3 you would say its garb if you didn’t play Ocarina of Time when it came out or at least now a days and accepted for its time it was a new method. This is a critical point that people really need to pay attention to or acknowledge not just reviewing but when talking about graphics and gaming.

Sometimes Graphics and Art Style get conflated and while they are connected they are equally different. Graphics are set by the art style and limited by the engine and skill of the programmers. Art style is set by well the designers of the game, and their artists skill level. Sometimes its a decision made out of a purpose or sometimes its a decision based on availability and cost. A game can be a varied collection of styles or one style set throughout the game and is most often 2-D pixels or 3-D modeling though others exist.

Galactic Battlegrounds was essentially set with/due to the nature of its game engine. The art style being 3-D models but with the graphics being awkwardly pixelated. Meanwhile in Empire the game is also styled in 3-D models but because of not only the time but also the game engine graphically the models are superior. So based on graphics and the art styles you know who’s going to win this one. However, I want to make a distinction just because a game may have graphically superior.

Winner: Empire

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Category: Sound & Music design

Both of these games use standard Star Wars music and effects so they sound like Star Wars games. This one is always easy for such games that come from a recognizable series either they sound like they belong or they don’t. And both do. So yeah giving them both this category. I’ll be honest I’m not into musical theory and have very little musical skill and I’ve played a few instruments before in my life… though I guess scratching nails on a chalk board still conveys messages albeit ear piercingly poor.

Winner: Tie

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Conclusion:

I chose these two Star Wars RTS games for this because they are similar games but at the same time are in different styles. They of course however have the common factor of being based on the Star Wars Universe and so I expected the similarities to keep the Game vs. Game close. And I was correct. For me this goes to Empire at War. And while it is graphically superior both games are solid and worth picking up and that’s made easier considering they go on sale on Steam yearly. Whether you agree or disagree with my statements or my conclusion on the winner here I hope it at least made you think of getting these games, or fondly on these games.

Empire at War (3) Vs. Galactic Battlegrounds (2.5)

Winner: Empire at War

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