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GF! Archival Version Copyright 1995-2004

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by SSI

Ups: Detailed graphics; responsive AI; several multiplayer option; compelling narrative.

:  Steep learning curve; controlas not intuitive.

System Reqs: PII 233, 32MB RAM, 3D Accelerator, 450 MB HD space, 4X CD-ROM.

It’s the dead of night. You have been at your computer for hours, crunching numbers and going over the projections on the large wall-size monitors in your lab.  An assistant comes in with another carafe of coffee.  You could use a little rest, but as the leading astro-physicist for the Lunar Corporation your job is never done.  There is always something that needs to be checked or investigated: solar anomalies, space radiation, lunar dust, and other perils that the residents of the moon trust to your care.

The soft hum of the printer coming online to display your test results snaps you back to reality.  As you slowly collect your cup of coffee and make your way over to retrieve the printout, you wonder briefly how things are going back on Earth.  The printer finishes its job and the report  waits in its tray.  You gather it up and make your way back to the desk.  Everything appears to be in order … but wait, what's this?  A small shift in the Earth’s rotation?  How can that be?  Grabbing your data pad you begin another set of calculations. All weariness has fled. As the solution scrolls across the screen, an impending sense of doom floods your nerves and synapses.  The coffee cup slips from your hand and crashes to the floor.  The assistant spins around to see you slack-jawed and trembling.  If the numbers are right, at this rate of orbital decay there are only 183 days before Earth collides with the sun…

Don't worry, though, game fans. This isn't the story behind a late-breaking headline of impending disaster. It’s Earth 2150,  one of this summer’s hottest RTS games.  You assume command of one of the three Earth factions (Eurasian Dynasty, United Civilized States, or Lunar Corporation) and try to lead your people away from the dying earth to safety on Mars.  To succeed, you have to fend off other factions’ advances and  mine minerals to pay for transportation for the trip before the Earth and Sun collide. All you need to do is collect a million credits and you win.  Keeping them, though, isn't so easy. 

As the game begins, you assume command of a fully functioning base.  The Earth bound factions (ED & UCS) need to gather a million credits to move their people to safety.  The LC, on the moon, only needs to gather half a million credits because they are the most technically advanced of the three.  But the LC has to get all those credits up to the moon so that they can get to Mars.

Once underway, you will find yourself in command of your stationary “home-base” and a “field-base”.  The field-bases move from location to location frantically mining for the resources that will save your people.  Along the way these bases will also have to defend these same resources from  factions also vying for self preservation.  This resource management can be EXTREMELY confusing in the beginning.  To alleviate this, there are several different camera options that can help quite a bit, once you get the hang of it.  Just think, this is only the base management. You still have to manage your finances and your troops.

The credits that you collect are used for everything in the game, so learning how to manage them effectively is imperative to your success.  Thankfully, at the end of each mission, you get to keep your units (those that are not destroyed anyway) and they will earn experience for the combat that they have faced.  The downside of this is that you really don’t want to send all your troops in on a suicide mission, since you would have to replace them in the next mission. 

During combat and construction, players really notice the amazing graphics.  Everything, the landscape, climate, structures, and vehicles, possesses an impressive level of detail.  Various military and civilian units under your command look superb. Days and nights pass and the structures that make up your base turn lights on and off accordingly.  At times, rain and snow obstruct the view, making commanding difficult. Fortunately, the camera is fully adjustable and can be rotated and zoomed in and out to get the best view possible on the battlefield.  While these controls are confusing at first, with time and practice they definitely come in handy.

The entire interface can be rather daunting when you first sit down with the game because there are so many options to choose from.  There are lots of things to learn at the beginning, so patience and some playing time are required to get everything out of Earth 2150.  The small dictionary-sized manual and the in-game tutorials are also helpful.

There are so many options in this game that it is hard to take everything into account.  This could be an EXCELLENT multi-player game.  I was only able to manage playing a little LAN game and it played like a dream.  This is one of the few RTS games that has so many multi-player options.  These include Uncle Sam (unlimited resources),  Earn Money (goal is earning $$),  Kill’Em All (DM), Arena (no bases, just battle), Destroy Structures (destroy all buildings), and Hide-n-Seek (like capture the flag).  With all these options it should keep you busy for some time, even after you finish the game.

All in all, this is a pretty incredible game. The only down side to this piece is the steep learning curve.  The interface and controls can be extremely intimidating at first.  Other than that, Earth 2150 gets a big thumbs-up.  Any game fan who likes a challenge should check out this challenging, graphically pleasing RTS.

--Ben Moore