Ah, the Star Wars franchise, so ripe for milking in so many different ways.

Cynicism aside, LucasArts have become a surer bet as of late, with output such as Mercenaries and Star Wars: Battlegrounds guiding them out of the water they've been treading for the past few years. Of course, we've already had a Star Wars RTS in the form of Force Commander, but if Hollywood can remake films which were perfectly good in the first place, why can't a Publisher have the opportunity to cash in on some missed potential in its past?

The game is set following the events of Episode III, and dealing with the aftermath of the Sith wars and, no doubt, the birth of the Rebel Alliance and Vader's subsequent rise to power. Lesser-known Las Vegas Developers Petroglyph are providing a new game engine as well as a specialisation in the RTS genre, the engine itself is said to enable detailed space as well as land battles, so perhaps we can get to muck around with some Star Destroyers after all.

Players can take the side of either the Empire or the Rebel Alliance, each following a progressive campaign which means the result of every mission will have an impact on the next. 'Hero' units have been touted, just as they were present in Force Commander, although we'll have to grow used to some new Alliance faces seeing as Luke is far too busy bawling and fouling his nappies to worry about the force just yet.

As has become expected for this genre, one on one and online skirmish modes will be present, with up to eight players supported should you choose to take the fight online.

Star Wars: Empire at War is due for a release in Autumn 2005, and more information can be found at www.lucasarts.com

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