Top Best PC Games - Empire Building

PCs are the ideal platform for 'empire building' games, where the challenge usually involves exploring, building, fighting and expanding through several centuries of game time (and many hours of real time) until you've conquered most of the world. These are the best empire buildings games with a European theme.
A value for money entry in the famous ‘Empires’ series – the Gold edition contains the complete AofE II plus expansion packs - players start with a young nation and guide it through over a millennia of invention, expansion and conflict, from dark age to renaissance. The mix of resource management and real time strategy has proved successful and, although AofE II isn’t specifically set in Europe, the continent has contributed much to the source material including races and historical campaigns.
This long running gaming franchise enters its fourth edition with the best looking map it’s ever had, and a vast depth as you try to conquer Europe and beyond. Everything has been built on and improved, including trade in one of the most immersive ‘big period’ titles. However, some people have had problems with Stream.
Some people thought that Hearts of Iron - an empire building game set during World War 2 - was a bit rushed, a bit buggy and a bit simplistic. Hearts of Iron II isn’t. Play from over 130 nations in a campaign that can last from 1936-47, micro-manage down to a worrying level of detail and spend over thirty hours on just one game. Hearts of Iron III is out, but suffers from some key problems.
A real-time strategy in the mould of Age of Empires with basic graphics, no fancy massed battles and a potentially long learning period, it’s easy to see why Europa Universalis III has been overlooked. Yet this is a huge, complex and very involving game which now covers the world (250+ countries, 1700 areas) requiring a balance of diplomacy, economics, exploration, science and much more. This is accurate, immersive and if you like it you’ll be wholly enthralled. There is a now an expansion for the Napoleonic era.
Everything the first game was (see below) but with better graphics, gameplay tweaks and the promise of future addons. Unfortunately, it needs a pretty powerful pc to run on…fortunately, if you haven’t purchased a new machine this year Empire Earth I should fit your needs fine.
Empire Earth isn’t set in an age or continent like other real time strategy games; instead, you lead your chosen people through the entirety of human history, from cave dwellers to futuristic nano-manipulators. Every human advance and many nations are present in a game which plays similarly to others in this list, but which offers much more scope. However, Empire Earth 2 is out in the first quarter of 2005 and people might wish to wait for that before buying.
of 08

Hearts of Iron

An Empire building game set during World War 2? Well, certain nations did try to build an empire in that war and this game, built on the European Universalis engine (see above) gives you a ‘Grand Strategic’ approach to the war. Rather than guiding tanks round the back of a building, here you decide whether to research nuclear weapons or bomb the enemy’s factories. Ultimately it’s not as complicated as the titles above, but it’s certainly a different challenge, just don’t forget the patches.

As with Medieval: Total War, this is a mixture of ‘Civilization’-empire building and large-scale battle simulation, although there is greater emphasis on diplomacy, spying, economics and living out the feudal system; as such, it’s the only game to appear in both ‘war’ and ‘empire’ top picks. The ultimate goal is conquering the whole continent, but you’ll need more than a blood thirst to achieve it. More »