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Posted on Oct 11, 2006 in Electronic Games, Front Page Features

Emperor’s Testament – Game Review (PC)

By Robert Mackey

Technically, the gameplay is a paragon of RTS programming. I found the game to be stable and run well regardless of the number of buildings or ongoing action. Pathing, both for the AI and player-controlled forces, is smooth and the AI rarely falls into the old “Pardon me sir, is this the line to die in?” routine where AI army after AI army continues to hit the player at the same place every time. I found it interesting to watch the AI produce units, send them out to get shot up, and then try a different flank the next time.

While only the single player campaign mode was tested, the game also supports a ‘battle’ map mode, network and Internet (GameSpy and TCP/IP) play.

Graphics (18/20): PET’s graphics are clear and high resolution, with crisp colors and work well with the overall feel of the game. The terraforming of the map is handled very well by the program, and it is easy to gain important information from a glance.

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Sound (8/10): The audio track and sound effects are enjoyable and add to the game’s immersion. However, I found the pseudo-Cylon (and I’m talking the original metal heads, not the new hot blonde models) voice over a bit old after a while. Other than that, no major detractions due to sound.

Documentation and Technical (6/10): There were numerous times where the manual failed to explain key points of gameplay. For example, why are you sometimes unable to replace forces in your squads, while at other times you can produce large forces? As best I can tell, it has nothing to do with number of troop-producing buildings, energy reserves, or produced energy. It just does. The manual itself is reasonably helpful, but lacks some of the hard details like describing how some mechanics of the game actually function.

The campaign screen. Does the mission description to the right make sense to you? If it does, you may have a great future in philosophy, psychology, or you could just pitch it all and write this stuff from your isolated woodland cabin.

It is clear that the folks at 1C have worked hard to be “different” from other RTS’s out there. Sadly, by focusing on a nearly schizophrenic storyline over making major changes to the “gather-build-kill” model they’ve created another playable but ultimately mundane addition to the RTS pantheon.

Armchair General Rating: 75%

43/60 — Gameplay
18/20 — Graphics
08/10 — Sound
06/10 — Documentation and Technical

Pros: Ability to morph squads and terraform make the game different than others out there. Familiar to any RTS gamer and can be picked up quickly.

Cons: Psychedelic storyline that ultimately boils down to the RTS formula.

Bottom Line: If you love RTS and just can’t get enough, you should definitely buy this one. If you are looking for something totally new and different in RTS, you may want to give this a pass.

Perimeter: Emporer’s Testament home.

Discuss PET on the Armchair General forums.

Author’s Information

Lieutenant Colonel Bob Mackey, Ph.D., is a US Army combat veteran of Panama, Desert Storm and OIF, currently assigned as a strategic plans officer for the Joint Chiefs of Staff. He is the author of The UnCivil War: Irregular Warfare in the Upper South, 1861-1865, and is an avid wargamer.

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