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Review by: Richard Leader
Published: October 25, 2002
Despite a glut of futuristic real-time strategy games in the marketplace, few have been able to garner any serious attention. While gamers have decided that there’s more than enough room for multiple fantasy- and historically based titles, those inspired by science fiction routinely pass under their radar. The Earth 2150 series has certainly fallen into that trap; though many have heard of it in passing, it remains largely undiscovered by the general public.
To set the record straight, the series began in 1997 with Earth 2140, a middling RTS that received unenthusiastic reviews. Three years later, Earth 2150: Escape from the Blue Planet was released. Despite the most fully actualized 3D environment of its time and a host of critical acclaim, it never quite found the market presence it deserved. Another title followed, Earth 2150: The Moon Project, which brought new campaigns and a few extra units to the mix. While far closer to an expansion pack than a true sequel in nature, it was marketed as a stand-alone product rather than an add-on. Earth 2150: Lost Souls is the third outing of the venerable game engine, this time with its own campaigns, but not a single new unit or feature. Again, it’s a stand-alone product, not an expansion.
Lost Souls is the story of three independent factions that have risen from contemporary events to shape a tragic future. The United Civilized States, formed from the Western powerhouses of the 21st century (who became increasingly isolationist in their politics, jealously hoarding their technological advances), has long been at war with the aging Eurasian Dynasty. Exploiting this conflict was the Lunar Corporation, an economic power that was able to leverage control of the moon. A massive nuclear explosion near the Antarctic has caused the Earth’s orbit to decay, sending it into a deadly spiral. The planet will soon fall too close to the sun to support human life, and thus the scramble to escape to Mars begins, with only the elite making it to safety. Those left behind are the “lost souls” who must battle for the resources needed to flee this world as the clock ticks away.
A full RTS in the traditional sense, Lost Souls contains a large amount of building, resource gathering and production, in fairly equal amounts. This might be a change of pace for those who’ve moved on to more recent offerings that tend to minimize one of the three for simplicity’s sake. Rendered fully in 3D, even with an aging core game and graphics engine, it’s still able to offer a staggering amount of features. Landscapes are fully interactive: Players can bulldoze hills into flat land, dig deep trenches to keep enemies at bay and even tunnel under mountains. A day and night cycle not only exists, but one faction is actually dependent upon it in a way that’s more fundamental than that of the Night Elves in Warcraft III. Weather effects have a profound influence upon the abilities of various units, and the elements themselves can even be wielded as a weapon.
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