Fans of the series will be able to dive right into the game and won't be disappointed.
The Moon Project is a fully 3D real-time strategy game set in the year 2150. It's actually the sequel to Earth 2150, which was released in the summer of 2000. While it wasn't as popular in the United States as it was in Germany (where it was originally released), Earth 2150 was an excellent game that remained true to real-time strategy conventions but still offered many interesting features, such as the ability to construct original units from component parts. The Moon Project stays very close to this formula and has the same three playable factions as the original game, but it also introduces many improvements to the game's 3D engine, as well as additional weapons and units, and improved enemy artificial intelligence.
The Moon Project was originally intended to be an expansion to Earth 2150, but the developer decided to make it a stand-alone game. Thought the new game is different from its predecessor, The Moon Project does have a lot of superficial similarities to it, and this can make it seem like less than a full-blown sequel. Earth 2150 told the story of three factions: the Eurasian Dynasty, Lunar Corporation, and the United Civilized States. Each of these was trying to acquire enough resources to build an evacuation fleet in time to escape the earth, following a major war that caused the earth to move out of its orbit. Unlike most sequels, The Moon Project actually takes place during the exact same time period as its predecessor. The Lunar Corporation discovers an alien relic buried beneath the moon's surface and begins researching the weapon. The other factions catch wind of this and move in to stop the new threat.
The 3D engine in The Moon Project has been revised to allow for more detail and has been optimized to run more smoothly. The game also focuses on combat and research more than its predecessor does. In Earth 2150's campaign, you had a time limit in which to build an evacuation fleet, but The Moon Project doesn't confine you to these constraints.
While the engine has been improved, the controls and interface remain largely identical to those in Earth 2150. Fans of the previous game will feel right at home, but the game is still pretty easy for new players to pick up and start playing, especially if they're experienced with other real-time strategy games. The Moon Project features easy-to-use camera controls: The right mouse button is used to rotate and elevate the camera, while the mouse wheel is used to zoom in and out. The interface panels are unobtrusive and can be removed, and building lists only appear when a construction unit or facility is selected. The screen can even be split if you want to keep track of different areas at the same time. You can also set the game speed, but speeding up play can make the game's performance suffer on a low-end system. Otherwise, when the action gets intense, the game simply slows down, so as to maintain playability by not compromising the frame rate. This way, you can still coordinate attacks effectively.
The Moon Project looks good, and the effects in the game are impressive. Plasma bolts and laser beams are vividly colored, and you can see energy shields shimmer around the units on the receiving end. Nuclear explosions form huge mushroom clouds that shake the screen violently. The game's 3D engine isn't just for show--the unit detail is high enough that you can tell what weapons are equipped on the various units. This is particularly important because the game lets you construct your own units, so it's good to be able to tell what sort of weapons are mounted on a tank chassis just at a glance. When nighttime falls, you can even turn the lights off on your units either to hide them or to help launch sneak attacks on an enemy. Even more minor details help add to the game's atmosphere--shadows revolve around a building as the day ends and nighttime begins. Trees burst into flame and fall over when hit by errant gunfire.
The sound of the game isn't quite as good, but it's not that bad either. The weapon effects are fairly subdued overall, though explosions sound convincing. On the other hand, the sweeping, orchestral music is done really well, especially the Eurasian Dynasty's tracks. The game has 10 new music tracks in addition to the standard Earth 2150 tracks.