Star Wars: Empire at War storms retail

Real-time strategy game based on the universe of George Lucas' sci-fi flicks strikes PCs; release already met with problem-solving patch.

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The throngs of sci-fi geeks seen leaving their domiciles can mean only one thing--something Star Wars-related is going down. There's still plenty of popcorn and Milk Duds left at the local Cineplex, since the latest project based on George Lucas' popular films isn't a movie; it's Star Wars: Empire at War, a PC game that hit stores today.

Set a few years before Episode IV: A New Hope (or just plain Star Wars for those who have lost track), Empire at War is a real-time strategy game that lets gamers play as either the Rebel Alliance or the Empire. Fans will be able to explore not only familiar environments such as Hoth, Tatooine, and Dagobah, but also new environments mentioned in the films and the novels of the Expanded Universe.

The single-player game challenges users to command armies on land and in space. Memorable characters, such as Chewbacca, Darth Vader, and Obi-Wan Kenobi, are playable and have special skill sets that differentiate them from other units. Several vehicles from the films, including AT-ATs, speeder bikes, and star destroyers, are also at the whim of gamers. Skirmish modes that support up to eight players and a two-player Galactic Conquest mode round out the game's features.

LucasArts has also released the game's first patch to quell disturbances in the force. The 20MB file takes the game to v1.01 and is now available for download from GameSpot. Those who can't make it to the store can still try out the game's demo.

Star Wars: Empire at War is rated T for Teen and has an SRP of $49.95. To see if the game is more Darth Vader or Jar-Jar Binks, check back later for GameSpot's full review.

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