What parents need to know
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a safe and fun game for teens and possibly even mature tweens. There are plenty of explosions and frequent battle scenes, but players will not encounter any blood or gore. The game is online enabled, and while the online portion doesn't contain any different content, there isn't any control over the language or actions of other players. Common Sense does not recommend online play for anyone younger than 12.
What's it about?
In STAR WARS: EMPIRES AT WAR, players take command of either the galactic Empire or rebel forces and attempt to gain control of the entire galaxy. Set roughly around the time of Star Wars: Episode IV, the rebellion is just starting to form and is looking for a way to steal the plans of a rumored super-weapon (the Death Star). Meanwhile, the Empire hopes to continue to expand its grip on the galaxy.
Since the space and land battles are handled separately, players need to build both space and ground forces, including a wide variety of vehicles and spaceships. It can get complicated managing the vast array of forces at hand; however, to make things simpler, players don't need to be concerned with the gathering of resources, which is a major break from most real-time strategy games.
Is it any good?
Unfortunately, the battle sequences are fairly linear. Players may be frustrated by the land maps, which typically only have a few approaches to enemy forces and offer limited areas to bring in reinforcements. In the campaign mode, this often leads to a situation in which the side that starts with the biggest army wins, reducing strategic options during battle. Battles in space tend to be more satisfying, replicating the laser-fire, explosions, and excitement of the movies.
Clear differences exist between the Empire and the rebellion, with the Empire being markedly more sinister. For example, during the tutorial, one character of the Empire says, "We will bomb the rebels, and when they come out with their hands up, we will bomb them again." While the Empire is able to take over any planet it desires, the rebellion is limited to freeing planets from Empire or space pirate control. To make up for that limitation, the rebellion is able to steal weapon designs from the Empire using spies.
Explore, discuss, enjoy
Families can talk about how this game fits in with the movies, books, and other games about Star Wars. Do you like how the game allows you to, in essence, change the storyline of the fourth movie, or do you feel it makes it less appealing? Does playing out the action in a game give you more freedom to imagine your own stories? How?