Moon Project is the follow up 3D real-time strategy stand-alone title to Earth 2150. Continuing the storyline, a secret Moon project, SunLight, is at the center of three campaigns with more than 30 missions, featuring the Lunar Corporation, the United Civilized States, and the Eurasian Dynasty. Moon Project is similar in appearance and gameplay style to its predecessor, with enhancements to the interface, graphics and audio.
Seven multiplayer game types, ranging from non-resource gathering and deathmatch scenarios to the opposite end of the spectrum with hide-'n-seek and resource harvesting-for-profit missions. Up to eight players can participate over the LAN or Internet.
Each of the three organizations features more than 50 units, weapons, and structures in its arsenal, many with upgrade components, prerequisites, and specific properties. Weapons and technology range in power from simple chain guns and cannons to earthquake generators, weather control centers and shields. Structures run the gamut from energy supply facilities and mines to research centers and base defenses.
Single-player campaigns include a carryover resource system from mission to mission, so maintenance of a home base is mandatory and requires transportation of units and resources to and from specific mission areas. Skirmish mode offers access to campaigns and battles created with the built in map editor, and serves as a practice field for multiplayer training.
Those of you who haven't experienced the science fiction 3D RTS Earth 2150 have missed some good gameplay, highly realistic environments, and an exciting plot. All of these features satisfied even the most demanding RTS fans. What we can say for sure is that the outstanding atmosphere presents the most appealing aspect of Earth 2150. Changes of night and day, weather conditions, and highly detailed landscapes proved that the guys at TopWare really take their work serious. Anyway, after a few months of waiting and a couple of announcements, we finally got to test the expansion pack called The Moon Project. Here we encounter the usual issues: Does the expansion bring anything truly fresh? Are the missions even more exciting? Is the plot an original enough alteration of Earth 2150? And with all these new aspects, does it possess the same old atmosphere everyone enjoyed so much? Did it fix any bad aspects of its predecessor?
Well, to put it shortly, The Moon Project is really a nice refreshment and it will be intriguing both for players who loved Earth 2150 and for those who are experiencing it for the first time. However, it doesn't bring anything radically new, but than again it was not even supposed to because then it would have been a sequel. If you wish to play new missions in a completely new environment, then this will definitely hold your attention. Those of you who prefer more campaigns, new races, or similar radical changes, I'm sorry to say you'll be disappointed.
As for the plot, I would like to point out that it is an interesting combination of some new ideas with some reminiscence of the previous game. The same groups are still at war - Lunar Corporation (tiny, but technologically the most advanced), Eurasian Dynasty (a pretty rough and conservative group), and the trendy United Civilized States. While the Eurasian Dynasty and the United Civilized States still fight on Earth, the Lunar Corporation started a top-secret operation on the Moon's surface. This operation is named Project Sunlight. Each corporation will have its own interests in this Project.
Although the environment and most of the missions are new, TopWare could've introduced an additional race. This would bring more new buildings and crafts, as well as new models and more programming, and that would definitely take too much time for developers to accomplish (it may have been a nice touch though).
Anyway, as you start the campaigns you'll find that the tasks, which await you, are extensive and it will take you a while to complete them, no matter what side you choose. There are no particularly interesting assignments. Your goals are mostly on the lines of 'seek and destroy,' 'locate artifact,' and 'completely annihilate the opponent.' The missions seem very long, but unfortunately there's a very small number of them. Nonetheless, the adventurous element is present and it is a nice refreshment when compared to the original game. To balance things out TopWare has thrown in a quite large amount of skirmish missions. There is also the improved level editor which is much more sophisticated and will allow you to modify existing maps or create large new worlds with a greater number landscape details, structures, and ground textures. Once you get acquainted with all of the options, settings, and features you are ready to embrace the world of The Moon Project.
Before you initiate a campaign or skirmish, I would strongly recommend playing the tutorial (especially if you've never played Earth 2150 before). The tutorial is thorough, yet simple and it will allow you to practice camera movement, which is an extremely important part of the game. The zoom-in was slightly enhanced over the original, so that you can observe all the little things that go on while your units do their jobs and mission assignments (for example, watching your repair unit performing its duties).
Now we come to the most important thing you will notice when you start playing the missions. The tasks seem simple enough to perform, however you're gonna find that the opponent units are not that naive and they will do almost anything in their power to stop you. You will realize that the enemy is quick and intelligent (a deadly combination), so you have to act swiftly, and with well-devised battle technique and defense tactic, unless you want to see your base turned into a scrap yard. There's the old tunnel-digging tactic, which allows you to sneak up behind enemy lines and wreak havoc. Even in these situations the enemy was on full alert and responded immediately to my surprise. However, you can use the Earthquake Generator while you move through the tunnel, which will heavily damage enemy constructions. This way you'll make the base much easier to conquer. Another new unit is available that goes by the strange nickname, Fat Girl. This unit has a very powerful armor and can take out quite a lot of enemy units. Also, a nice idea was realized with the new Unit Transporter, which can pick up enemy units and drop them on an enemy building, thus destroying both objects with one blow. Regrettably though, these new units won't in any way guarantee your victory over the ferocious AI.
There are a lot of unit commands that will let you form platoons, disband platoons, tell your unit to return to base and replenish his ammo, etc. A new interesting command has been introduced: namely you can switch your units' lights on or off, which presents a subtle but very important feature. It can be used when the Moon falls out of reach of Sunlight and it becomes pitch black. Moments like these improve verisimilitude and atmosphere.
As for the sound, things seem as spectacular as we expected. It offers more brilliant music tracks, which add a lot to the excitement while you charge against the enemy. These tracks can make you feel you're really a part of the whole 'Moon Project' story and perfectly become the visually striking environment. Further more, the music gets increasingly dynamic once you encounter enemy troops (which caused this reviewer to fall off his chair a few times).
On the visual side, this game has many dazzling qualities, from the beautiful shadowy terrain, to the visually stunning meteor showers. These small asteroids and comets, which hit the Moon's surface, present a constant danger for you and your vehicles. So it's not only an attractive environment detail, it can interact and influence your actions (rather like in real life). Explosions of the meteors look spectacular, as well as the explosions of the objects you destroy. Another interesting detail about these showers is that they happen when you least expect them to, and then when they do, as I said, they look really impressive. Further more, we can see a lot of nice landscapes of the Moon surface that is highly detailed even when you zoom up to the maximum. Dense fog, rain, and snow (on Earth, of course) remain the integral part of the environment. The 3D engine, in general, produces some truly gorgeous backgrounds and visual effects. Maybe the models could've used more polygons (ah, it's a RTS after all), otherwise they are smoothly animated and do not appear to bother your system too much. The technologically-advanced weaponry you use can also create some magnificent effects (the plasma gun looks particularly nice).
The downside of the game is, as I mentioned, the lack of more missions in the campaigns, which had been otherwise very well conceived. If you expected to see a lot of single player missions in the campaigns, you may be disappointed. Still, there is going to be enough of skirmish for you to play for days. In addition, level editing can be used to create missions to your preference and the multiplayer games are always loads of fun. Sadly, another setback comes with the main research facilities, which usually take too much time in completing their errands. This proved to be very frustrating since the enemy upgrades his units much faster than you; it makes the game twice as hard and very annoying. TopWare could have fixed this. All things considered, I think we can rather call this an excellent level editor with a lot of additional skirmish missions, rather than a truly innovative expansion pack.
People who downloaded Earth 2150: The Moon Project have also downloaded:
Earth 2140, Earth 2150: Lost Souls, Earth 2160, Earth 2150: Escape from the Blue Planet, Emperor: Battle for Dune, Age of Empires III, Age of Empires 2: The Age of Kings, Dune 2000
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