Earth 2160 PC DVD-ROM

Published by Deep Silver
Developed by Reality Pump
Released – 26th August 2005
Price : £29.99

Earth 2160, an introduction.

Earth 2150 was one of the first great 3D RTS games. The game itself was very good but what made it stand out was the fact that the graphics engine actually looked very good. In a time when 3D RTS games just didn’t look that good or suffered from camera angle problems, this made Earth 2150 really stand out. Of course having a great game underneath the 3D graphics did its popularity no harm either.

What’s the game about?

Earth 2160, as the name suggests, picks up the story 10 years after the events in Earth 2150. Earth has been destroyed and its former inhabitants have colonized the red planet of Mars. The survivors are made up of 3 factions, the Eurasian Dynasty, Lunar Corporation and the United Civilized States. In addition to having each other as rivals, the factions now have an alien race to contend with too. The game offers 4 campaigns, one for each faction and one for the aliens. Initially only two campaigns are available, the Eurasian Dynasty and the Lunar Corporation campaigns. In addition you also have a skirmish mode and a multiplayer mode for LAN and Internet games (for up to 8 players). Both the skirmish and campaigns have three AI difficulty levels.

What’s good about the game?

If you enjoyed Earth 2150 you’re pretty much guaranteed to like Earth 2160 as in many ways it feels familiar. There are some differences though. Building construction, for the most part, is now modular with new structures attaching to existing ones. This is an interesting concept and prevents your bases from becoming spread over too big an area. Virtual Agents (in skirmish games) are another new inclusion that should make the game more interesting. The Virtual Agents are freelancers that can be hired and each one offers unique skills that will give a bonus to your faction. Players will also get to bid for their services, which is a nice touch. Each of the games’ factions feel significantly different from each other which means you get more variety from playing as different factions that you do in most RTS games. I particularly like the use of the picture-in-picture windows that you can use if you want to keep an eye on a party of your units whilst you scroll to another location. You can also enable a first person view of any unit (vehicle or infantry). You can move around and fire in this view although it does feel more of a novelty than anything else. The unit construction, a great feature of Earth 2150, returns and is just as good. An editor has also been included so that you can create your own maps which again is a welcome feature.

What’s not so good about the game?

There’s not a lot wrong with Earth 2160 but it doesn’t seem to have that sparkle that you’d expect from a brand new RTS. What it does it does well but there’s not a lot here that RTS fans won’t have seen many times before and there’s nothing here to invigorate and stimulate interest in those who have become tired of the genre. For those who are new to the genre it’s probably best avoided as it’s one of the more complex RTS games out there. Mastering the research seems a lot more complicated than it should be for some reason. Had the technology tree been easier to fathom it would have taken away most of this difficulty. Some may also be irritated because you have to activate the game. Instead of going with the usual (and let’s face it often worthless) copy protection, you have to activate the game in order for it to function. Unless you activate the game it will only operate in ‘demo’ mode. Once activated you won’t need the disk in your drive in order to play the game. Activation also gives you access to a Platinum upgrade which is an 8MB download that installs an additional 8 multiplayer maps.

How does it look?

Graphically Earth 2160 looks very good and will definitely make good use of the modern day graphics cards. The game uses the impressive Earth-4 engine and this allows for some great textures and weather effects. There’s also some pretty impressive physics on display here with destructive terrain etc. and this adds to the visual appeal of the game. Even when you zoom in fully on your units and buildings they still look good, which is something you can’t say for many RTS games. With the game’s graphics being of a high standard it stands to reason that you’ve going to need a decent CPU and graphics card to make everything look its best. Playing the game on a PC with a Pentium 4 2.8 GHz CPU with an ATi X800XT graphics card and 1GB RAM the game performed very smoothly on full details at a resolution of 1280×1024 with only a minor amount of slowdown (probably down to our aging CPU if we’re being honest about it). Even with some of the graphical details turned down the game still looks good.

How deaf gamer friendly is the game?

Earth 2160 is OK for deaf gamers but it’s not without a few problems. The game’s cutscenes are not subtitled which is disappointing. All important dialogue within the main game is shown in text (and most of this dialogue can be recalled if you need to do so). Tutorial messages are shown in text, warning messages are shown in text and goals are also shown in text (and can be recalled). Comments that are made by your units when you issue orders to them are not shown in text which is a shame. It’s also worth a mention that multiplayer games support voice communications so deaf gamers might have problems playing games against hearing gamers because of this.

Final thoughts.

Earth 2160 is definitely a RTS for RTS enthusiasts and those who enjoyed the previous games in the series. If you’re a newcomer to the genre then this definitely isn’t the place to start (although it’s a game you’ll probably want to come back to when you’ve experienced other titles in the genre). There are a few new features here that work quite nicely but for the most part Earth 2160 doesn’t offer a lot of innovation and that’s probably the main complaint about the game especially when Earth 2150 seemed quite a bit different from the RTS games at the time. As long as you were hoping for something similar to Earth 2150 you’ll be very satisfied with Earth 2160 and all that it has to offer.

Overall Game Rating: 8.0/10

Deaf Gamers Classification:

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Earth 2160 is, on the whole, a great sequel to Earth 2150. There’s nothing revolutionary here though and some might have hoped for the game to offer something a little different.