Video Game / Empire Earth

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A classic military, real-time strategy game from Stainless Steel Studios, Empire Earth was released in 2001 for the PC. The player controls a civilization as it advances through "epochs" (14 in the original, 15 in the Art of Conquest expansion). Specific buildings allow the construction of units and the research of improvements. The game employs a complex technology tree, with literally hundreds of land, sea, and air-based units. The goal, outside the preset scenarios, is the military destruction of the opponent. Users can play against the computer or other players online.

The original was very well received, prompting the release of Empire Earth II in 2005. This also did fairly well. Empire Earth III, by contrast, was a commercial flop, and is widely believed to have been the end of the series.

A dedicated fanbase lives on.


This video-game provides examples of:

  • Action Girl: Molly Ryan, one of the final heroes. Most of the pilots (both tanks and planes) in the final eras are women.
  • A.I. Is a Crapshoot: In the Novaya Russia campaign, AI may not be a crapshoot for Novaya Russia, but from the start, Novaya Russia's advances in robotics prove very disastrous for every other country.
    • In the skirmish mode A.I. is infamous for heavy cheating. It will add resources and units to the enemy team instantly if you do too well. Winning is almost impossible.
  • All There in the Manual: Lampshaded in the fourth mission of the Russian campaign when the briefing recommends you to check out the manual to learn more on cybers' abilities.
  • Alternate History: The first game had the German campaign where it was possible to defeat Britain in World War II. The scenario is actually based on Operation Sea Lion, which of course was never carried out in the real World War II.
  • America Saves the Day:
    • Novaya Russia in the first game has conquered Europe, East Russia and all of the world, but they won't manage to conquer the United States; in fact, that's the turning point that erases Novaya Russia from history.
    • In the second game, the US tries to stop a rogue general and his cybernetic experiments from threatening the world Twenty Minutes into the Future, just in time for the 300th Anniversary of the Declaration of Independence.
  • Anachronism Stew: Infinite possibilities abound when it comes to having one side on the far end of the technology spectrum attacking another side that is way behind in development.
    • Army of the Ages: When you use the editor to create an army with units from every epoch, or just start in Prehistory or work your way up. Especially evident when playing with computer allies who send troops to protect your wonders and never retreat them.
  • Anti-Air: Air units are divided into planes (which can only be hit by planes, AA guns/turrets, cruisers or the specialized Anti-Air units) and balloons, helicopters and flying cybers (which can be hit by the aforementioned units and most ranged ground units).
  • Annoying Arrows: Played straight for hand-bow style archers, subverted for arrow towers (which carry a surprising punch), and averted for crossbow (because you know they'll be deadly). It's entirely possible for a crossbow team to destroy a Million Mook March of swordsmen single-handedly.
  • Area of Effect: The nuclear weapon in the first game.
  • Artistic Licence - Geography: Particularly visible on some campaign maps. The next-to-last English campaign has Britain just to the northwest of Spain (the Channel apparently separates the two countries), while the second Russian mission moves it up just off Scandinavia.
  • Artificial Stupidity:
    • Units ordered to attack will sometimes run like hell the other way, no matter the difference in power between the two.
    • Playing on an island-type map makes the computer very stupid indeed; since they can't use their usual Zerg Rush tactics, they'll settle for sending units one transport at a time, often without any guards. Surrounding the island with towers often ensures the transport sinks before it even lands.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic
  • Battering Ram: Most technology epochs have their own version of a siege engine, something that can destroy buildings. In the Stone Age, it's a "Samson," which is just a guy carrying a log he uses to ram enemy huts.
  • Baseless Mission: The first scenario of the German campaign. One English mission has you rampage around France looting artifacts, while others give you a base and the means to make units but no resources.
  • Bamboo Technology: The Cyber labs and factories require only lumber to be built.
  • Barbarian Hero: Hierakles looks exactly like the Barbarian unit. One of Alexander's generals is a barbarian, down to being able to move through trees.
  • Belief Makes You Stupid: Priests cannot convert units that are within range of a university. However, temples prevent the casting of disasters like earthquakes and pestilence.
  • Berserk Button: In Skirmish Mode, the AI does not like it when you finish building a Wonder, and will immediately start to atttack you (and any allies will send troops to protect it) while taunting you. This can be used to set up (very expensive) traps.
  • Boss Battle: William's duel against a beefed-up French knight in the English campaign, and in the last Russian mission against Grigor II. It has 35000 health points, compared to the mere 6000 he had when you could control him.
  • Break Out the Museum Piece: The final level of the German campaign has attacks from the French resistance featuring Napoleonic units.
  • Broken Pedestal: Molotov for much of his appearance in the Novaya Russia campaign idolizes Grigor and all he stood for. This is completely shattered however upon finding out that Grigor was far from the heroic messiah he thought him to be.
  • Can't Catch Up: Some AIs randomly stop trying to go up on the tech tree for no reason. Especialy painful if it's in the early ages before anyone has Anti-Air weapons.
  • City of Weirdos: When Molotov and Molly go back in time, nobody says anything about Molotov, a cyborg with a half-robot face, or Molly, whose hair is made of cybernetic cables.
  • Clap Your Hands If You Believe: The presence of a temple is enough to prevent disasters.
  • Color-Coded Multiplayer: Even before dye is invented. Best exemplified by the earliest Dock, where ownership is shown by a brightly colored starfish.
  • Combat Medic: The Strategist hero is the only healer available until actual medics show up in the Industrial era. While they can attack, they won't do so unless specifically ordered.
  • Comically Small Bribe: In the English campaign, the leader is offered treasure chests in exchange for giving up the invasion. It's an insult, as the chests are filled with tennis balls.
  • Critical Existence Failure: Every Unit and Building will still be standing with just one HP. Partly averted with planes, ships, and buildings which will smoke and catch fire.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Computer players don't follow any resource-gathering rules; they just build units at an arbitrarily fast pace. Also computers don't seem to be bothered by Fog of War, since they commonly send bomber planes after your sneaky armies with impunity. They also know where your forces are strong and weak, so attempts to save scum after the loss of a base and send the bulk of your forces to said doomed base will result in the AI switching targets to the other one, even if they have no legitimate way of knowing where your forces are.
  • Deadly Deferred Conversation: In the Greek campaign, this is how King Phillip of Macedonia's death is presented: Alexander asks to speak to him after a battle, but the king is busy, and is killed by assassins before he has a chance to talk to his son.
  • Death of a Thousand Cuts: Although the P-47 has weak guns, its blinding rate of fire gives it a higher Damage-Per-Second capacity than the more general purpose Fighter-Bomber.
  • Defector from Decadence: A minor general of the enemy forces in the second scenario of the British campaign deserts to join your side upon seeing how determined William is to retain his title of Duke. Also Molotov during the penultimate scenario of the Russian campaign.
  • Driven to Suicide: One of the units that cannot be accessed in normal gameplay is the Chinese Spearman. And a gruesome detail about this particular unit is its death animation: The Chinese Spearman sets his spear to the ground and jumps on it.
  • Easily Conquered World: Novaya Russia only had a tough time in the Middle-East, North Africa and China and by the time of Molotov's defection, Novaya Russia held direct or indirect control of pretty much the whole world except North America.
  • Easy Level Trick: The second Russian level can be beaten in 10 minutes top on easy mode if you build 3 Titan bombers and spend all your civilization points to make them faster and stronger.
    • The Art of Conquest: In the final scenario of the Roman Campaign, you are given the choice of completing the mission by siding with either Cleopatra VII or Ptolemy XIV. If you side with Cleopatra, not only will you need to defend Alexandria but the Great Pyramid of Cheops as well as you'll lose if it falls below 50%. A script bug in the scenario allows you to destroy the Great Pyramid by pressing delete without being defeated, removing the need and risk of defending a structure that's outside the safety of Alexandria's walls.
    • The penultimate Russian level has you take over Cuba and build a base there, then Molotov defects to the US, leaving you to face a very powerful army and two bases. However, it's not necessary to eliminate the Cubans entirely, just their Capitol, and it's possible to use a few Ares to take out the Capitol and provide security until you've built the required buildings. And as for the original base, you can delete your own buildings just before the switch if you don't feel like fighting.
  • Enemy Exchange Program: The Priest's job is to convert enemy units that are not near a University. They're fun to use but they start being useless once you get access to gun units from the Renaissance Age and beyond (though they can convert other priests and enemy buildings past this point). The Poseidon cyber uses this on enemy cybers.
  • Everything Fades: This can be averted with a special trigger, as used in the second-to-last mission in the Russian Campaign, to make a dead unit become persistent and never disappear. In skirmish maps, the blackened area where a building once stood stays around forever unless built on.
  • Evolving Weapon: Nearly every unit has a superior version it can be upgraded into by going to a better era. Best seen on the Arquebus unit, which goes from arqubus to rifle to laser gun while the citizens start by dragging their loads on the ground before using buckets and finally using wheelbarrows.
  • Fog of War: Unexplored areas of the map are pitch-black, and areas unobserved by the players' units or buildings do not show enemy movements. Building the Library of Alexandria allows the player to see all enemy buildings and target them, but not the units around them.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The Novaya Russia campaign from the first game initially follows Grigor Stoyanovich from a young firebrand to supreme leader before dying. Later on, Molotov and Molly time travel back to confront the young Grigor before he could assume power.
  • Game Mod: Plenty for the first two games, from simple reskins to massive gameplay changes.
  • Garrisonable Structures - Forts are available, but other structures too. And for certain structures (especially in the first game) it is wise to do so as garrisoning a certain number of units in them will upgrade the structure. But you won't get the units back after you upgrade said buildings.
  • General Ripper: Charles Blackworth. His concern over America's apparent diminishing power prompts him to launch a coup d'etat against the US government, which the player foils. He eventually goes into hiding in South America and attempts to trigger a nuclear holocaust, only to be foiled once again and Killed Off for Real.
  • Gullible Lemmings: Luring enemy units into your archers/riflemen/ships is an effective way to avoid and minimize casualties. This is a very important tactic in scenarios where your ability to reinforce your army is limited or nonexistent.
  • Hard-Coded Hostility: The diplomacy settings are locked in single-player missions so you can't try to ally with your enemies. Some missions have special conditions to let you ally with them.
  • Heir Club for Men: Grigor wanted a son or daughter to take over the leadership of Novaya Russia, but even futuristic medecine couldn't cure his sterility. So he named the robot instead.
  • Hero Unit: Heroes come in two types: Warriors, which have stronger attacks and increase unit morale around them, and Strategists, with a weaker attack which they don't use by themselves but an automatic healing ability.
  • Hover Tank: Goes underwater most likely due to engine limitations. Also, it cannot be built outside custom maps.
  • Humongous Mecha: All three games have them in later epochs. Especially the campaign/editor-only Command Unit/Grigor II and Blackworth.
  • Improbable Aiming Skills: The animators messed up on Napoleon's attack animation: When he shoots, it looks like he's firing into the air. It doesn't stop the bullet from hitting the enemy though.
  • Invaded States of America: Novaya Russia's attempted invasion of America in EE1.
  • Lighthouse Point: The Pharos of Alexandria can be built repeatedly in multiplayer, as it reveals a vast amount of water (but not land, strangely). In the German campaign, a modern lighthouse can be built for the same effect.
  • Little Miss Badass: Molly Ryan put a fifteen-year-old bully in intensive care for a week at the age of nine.
  • Just a Stupid Accent / Poirot Speak : Most of the voice acting in the first installment was pretty egregious.
  • Meaningful Name: Most of the Cybers. Pandoras are anti-infantry, Minotaurs are anti-tank, Zeus is anti-everything...
  • Mini-Mecha: The Cybers/HERCs were only slightly bigger than infantry units. Possibly a case of Units Not to Scale.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: One of the tutorials has you fight off tiger attacks in the Mediterranean.
  • Modern Mayincatec Empire: The tutorial for EE2 has the player guide the Aztecs from its founding to fighting off the Spanish conquistadors, helping the Americans win their independence from Britain, and fight a fascist Inca state in the 1930's.
  • Money for Nothing: Generally averted, you'll need all the resources you can get.
  • Morale Mechanic: Morale increases your units' defense, and can be obtained either by by in a capitol/town center's influence if houses are built in it, or by being close to a Warrior hero.
  • Muscles Are Meaningless: Animals will spawn tiny offspring that slowly grow to their adult size, but have exactly the same stats including health and food provided. Similarly, the male caveman is much bigger than the female but no stronger.
  • My Country, Right or Wrong: Molotov initially thinks this way about Novaya Russia, but after Grigor II becomes increasingly more ruthless in his pursuit of global domination, he makes the fateful decision to join sides with his country's enemies.
  • Nice Job Breaking It, Hero: Molotov's attempt to convince Grigor before his rise to power is instead used by Grigor II to jump-start Novaya Russia's revolution, supplying them with troops two epochs ahead.
  • One-Hit Kill: The incentive for using Crossbowmen is that they have a small chance of instantly killing enemy infantry. Sharpshooters and Snipers have the same purpose in later epochs with the bonus of being invisible from a distance.
  • One World Order: By the later missions of the Novaya Russia campaign, the country has direct and indirect control over much of the world outside of the American sphere and is poised to become one. The flavor text for the generic "Rebel Forces" meanwhile implies that said rebel groups would eventually unite into a single global counter-order to fight Novaya Russia.
  • Palette Swap: Several of the infantry and hero unit models resemble and share the exact same animations as each other, the most notable is the "Diplomat" unit which, excepting the medieval variant, is just a swap of that time period's male Citizen unit.
  • Power Up Letdown: Some of the Civ Bonuses are just a waste of rare and irreplaceable Civ Points.
  • Psycho for Hire: Barbarians and Vikings.
    'Oo can I kill?
  • Randomly Generated Levels: In skirmish games, while you can set the type of map (inland sea, island continent, landlocked, individual islands...), the terrain itself will never be the same for several games.
  • Real-Time Strategy: Gameplay can be paused so the player can take time to view the situation and issue commands, but can still proceed extremely fast for inexperienced players.
  • Real Time with Pause: One of the earliest Real-Time Strategy games that allowed issuing orders during paused mode. This allows micromanagement of formations, very useful in the earlier "epochs".
  • Recycledin Space: The Space Age introduced in Art of Conquest. You build space docks, space battleships, space carriers, space corvettes...
  • Religion Is Magic: Prophets are the spellcasters in this game, throwing storms, volcanoes, and plagues at your enemies (unless there's a temple nearby). Priests convert enemies to your side unless in range of a university.
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: The American campaign from EE2 eventually involves the US trying to stop a rogue general named Blackworth and his experimental cybernetic forces.
  • Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves: When Grigor II and Molotov convince a Chinese town to join their side and help them with invading China, Molotov hopes that the defectors would at least be rewarded for assisting them; Grigor II's response? Execute them, whether because he perceives them as a future threat or just For the Evulz isn't made apparent.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: The buildings also start out as flat and gradually inflate as your villagers build them, even faster the more bulders there are.
  • Robot War: The American campaign from EE2 eventually culminates in a battle against Blackworth and his cybernetic army.
    • Novaya Russia of the original game may be considered a minor example, especially after Grigor II comes to power; his obvious preference for mechanical, as opposed to organic, troops certainly gives the impression for it.
  • Rock Beats Laser: Although AA Missiles are stronger and have a longer firing range, there is a noticeable delay between shooting and hitting the target. AA Guns, on the other hand, hit the target instantly.
    • The very first ship (a war raft that throws rocks at enemies) becomes the Frigate in later epochs. It can still attack submarines.
    • All towers can attack subs, even the very first one, but only nuclear subs can fight back. It is profoundly hilarious to see a state-of-the-art nuclear-powered submarine be defeated by cavemen in towers throwing big rocks.
  • Rule of Cool: No other way to justify the cartoonish mecha, weird futuristic architecture, and lasers. Ninjas with lightsabers are probably the fullest extent of this seen in the first game.
  • Rule of Funny: Prophets in the modern and future eras wear sandwich boards. And nothing else.
  • Russia Takes Over the World: The game's Russian campaign is set Twenty Minutes into the Future where the paramilitary group Novaya Russia seizes power and begins a war of expansion against their neighbors. Helped by robotic troops and the US's isolationism, they're able to conquer Asia, Europe, and Africa, and start moving on Cuba when a disillusioned soldier defects to the US and travels back in time to prevent the fascist regime from ever rising, only to find that future soldiers already got there and need to be eliminated with inferior modern troops.
  • Schizo Tech: Some units from the WW2 epoch (namely ships, artillery guns, some infantry, and even halftracks) were still used in the modern epoch.
  • Setting Update: In the Russia campaign, you can build a Medical Center, Monument to Grigor and an Espionage HQ which have the same functions as the Temple of Zeus, Gate of Babylon and Library of Alexandria (and except the last one, use the same model). In the German campaign, you build Olympic Stadiums (the Coliseum).
  • Shout-Out: The Cybers and HERCs are shoutout to another franchise: Starsiege.
    • The spaceship that the Martian rebels claim from the colonial powers is called the Yamato, but it is portrayed as an air/spacecraft carrier rather than a battleship.
  • Space Is an Ocean: This is how space is treated in the expansion pack to Empire Earth. See Recycledin Space.
  • Splash Damage: For artillery units in all three games and the nuclear weapon in EEII.
  • Spiritual Successor: It's no coincidence that this game is identical to Age of Empires.
  • Super-Persistent Missile: A homing projectile will NEVER stop until the unit that it's chasing is dead or the unit that fired it is dead. The same rule applies for torpedoes.
  • Super-Persistent Predator: Similarly, attacked units will target solely the attacker, even when he runs behind a wall of his allies.
  • Suspicious Videogame Generosity: In the German scenario "Somme River", you are given 15000 of each resource to build a base and huge army that you'll need to storm and overrun the allied positions. If you hit the pop cap or a scout discovers your recruitment efforts and gets away to report about the buildup, the gravy train returns to Germany and you're forced to make do with the pitifully scarce amounts of local resources.
  • Tactical Rock-Paper-Scissors: In early epochs, the classic matchups occur between infantry, cavalry, and archers (with exceptions), though it gets more complicated as the epochs go on, becoming extremely convoluted when robots and lasers are introduced. The same applies to warships, frigates, and galleys (later replaced by submarines).
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Ships in pre-Imperial eras, even when the pirate stereotype won't exist for another ten centuries or so.
  • Tank Goodness: Present in all epochs after World War I. The first game divides them into AP tanks (effective against other tanks) and HE tanks (effective against infantry), while the second game divides them into light tanks and heavy tanks.
  • Tanks, but No Tanks: Not counting the fact that all of the series' factions shared the same units, we have the M18 Hellcat and the Jagdpanther from the second game that resembles a M48 Patton and a SU-85, respectively.
    • Anti-tanks guns are only referred to by their caliber until the future ages, which are rocket launchers instead.
  • Take a Third Option: the potential for such exists in the second mission of the English Campaign: with only 4-5 units to your name, you are faced with a blockade of horsemen standing in the road. The three knights that joined you a little bit ago recommend that they pull a Heroic Sacrifice and distract the enemy soldiers while William rides on to Falaise. You could do that...or you could throw all of your units at them, use William's Battle Cry to weaken the enemies, and have him heal your other units as they fight so that all of them can live and join the battle at the end of the level!
  • Take That: Two of the cheat codes are "boston food sucks" and "boston rent" (which makes you lose your gold).
  • The Theme Park Version: Of Age of Empires; whereas Age of Empires at least attempted to maintain a semblance of historical accuracy, Empire Earth decided to include more "unusual" ideas, some fantastical, some mundane, and sometimes a bit of both; such as a Euhemeristic interpretation of Greek legends (Heracles as a tribal chief who led his people to Greece) to some minor fantastical elements (The Trojan Horse as a gift from the gods and Theseus ascending to Mount Olympus) to holy men who wield the ability to summon natural disasters on a whim and a near future featuring Star Wars-esque aesthetics mixed with Humongous Mecha and Frickin' Laser Beams. That's not even going into the alternate history aspect of one of their campaigns.
  • The War of Earthly Aggression: The latter third of the Asian campaign in Art of Conquest. You even attack the Moon and the Earth at the end!
  • Units Not to Scale: Just like Age of Empires, the people in this game are slightly bigger than the houses they live in. The Humongous Mecha from the future ages are Humongous only in name. A miner is bigger than a tank, and nuclear bomber fighter jets are smaller than their bombs. The bombs are smaller than most tanks.
    • Space Compression: The Creators had to take several liberties with designing the Campaign maps so you can expect a lot of inaccuracies when the locations are compared to real-life.
  • War Elephants: Available in ranged and melee versions. Both have the same amount of life, but the arrows somehow deal more damage than tusks.
  • Wave Motion Gun: From the expansion, the Devastating Beam of Death ability of the space capital ship.
  • Washington D.C. Invasion: Blackworth's attempted coup in the American campaign from EE2 involves an attack from his cybernetic army.
  • You Require More Vespene Gas: The first game has five resource types that require intensive monitoring of the civilization's economy.
    • The second game on the other hand has four basic resource types and two "special resources" which change depending on the age. You won't get iron and uranium the same age, for example.
  • Zerg Rush: The AI has zero qualms about sending a dozen of every unit type at once at you.

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