Space Battle isn't spacy enough
Here's what I like:
This game is deep and highly accessable. You feel like there are a lot of strategic options always at hand and you really have to think and micro-manage to win. It creates some truely intence moments (namely on the ground).
I like the tactical part of the space battles -- it keeps you on your toes and it really establishes a sence of worth to every single unit in the battle -- you really don't want to lose anything.
Here's what I don't like:
Space battle control very sloppily. After playing Homeworld and Homeworld 2, I have to say that in Empire at War I feel like there is this wierd "Disconnect" between me and my units. With Homeworld I found being in the heat of the battle and micromanaging my units to be infinately tighter.
Furthermore, the camera is painful -- I think my first problem is largly caused by the camera being so far away. Since when did a Nebulon-B Frigate look so small?? Sure there's a sence of scale here but with the overhead camera is' all for naught. In this regard the game does a very terrible job capturing the size and nuance of each of the ships.
Next complaint: The space battles aren't 3D! The 3D engine is just a shinny coat of pain on a 2D battle system. Gamers have shown that they love 3D battles in homeworld and if they are like me, they've been pineing for more (Sadly Relic is making WWII games. WTF???)
Lastly, and perhaps this is the biggest sin of all: Space feels claustrophobic and remarkably un-grand. Homeworld did an awesome job at this -- you felt like you could fly forever in any direction and when you looked around space had a true sence of grand vastness. It was an amazing feeling in the homeworld universe to sit there, pan the camera about, watch your harvesters work away and feel truely alone. Not so in empire at war - the space feels more like a modified land battle than anything else.
Another thing that bugs me - there is way too much hand holding in this game. You can't place buildings on the ground wherever you want, you never really command your units from the main map - rather you just drag and drop little icons about. I hate having my hand held like this - it really destroys my ability to micro manage and really optimise every facet of my game. Instead I constantly feel forced down a very, very narrow path. It's too bad - in games like Starcraft I can recall brilliant tactics being twarted by even more brilliant building placement. While the hand holding speeds up gameplay it does so at the expence of a LOT of depth.
Overall though it's a pretty cool game. Just not nearlly as massive and awe-inspiring as it could be with such an unimaginably vast premis. But at least someones taking a stab at making this game - I've basically drempt of something like this for ages.