Forces of Corruption is an expansion pack for Star Wars: Empire at War that introduces some new gameplay elements, added units for the two existing factions (Imperial and Rebel) and, most importantly, introduces a whole new faction to the real-time strategy game.

Forces of Corruption introduces new units for all three factions.

In the original Empire at War, players could choose to be on the side of the Imperials or Rebels, with the main goal being to take control over the galaxy by conquering enemy planets. Players will be able to take vengeance upon the Galactic Empire and Rebellion alike by playing a new faction called the Zann Consortium. This new faction is run by Tyber Zann, a space crime lord, whose units have the special ability of being able to receive credits from planets without having to overtake it via the traditional means--that is, via total conquest as an Imperial or Rebel faction would. Various missions take the place of traditional "kill-everything-in-sight" combat--for example, instead of trying to kill every opposition unit, you may be tasked with having to kidnap or eliminate the leader of a certain group. Other missions may ask you to take out a certain number of enemy installations. Once these missions are completed, the planet is deemed to be "corrupted", which results in a part of that planet's credits being siphoned off to the Zann Consortium.

These mission-based objectives are a refreshing addition to Empire at War, particularly for those who found that the requirement of having to destroy every single enemy unit in the original game made battles drag on needlessly. The new faction also allows you to skip armed conflict altogether under certain circumstances, with the Zann Consortium able to "bribe" planets. On the flip side, if you wish you can still take over a planet the old school way and involve yourself in ground and space combat.

The Zann Consortium has completely different units to the Empire and Rebellion. Some of the new units are fighters equipped with buzz droids, Skipspray blastboats and, our favourite, fat guys that carry a sack full of suicide bombing Ewoks. Added to this an entire new range of heroes at the Consortium's disposal, most of whom are bounty hunters that Star Wars fans will notice immediately. Utilising their different skills will help you destroy the Empire and Rebellion and have the Galaxy to yourself, which is the overall victory condition for the game.

Yep, you're right: that's a Rancor there. Cool.

Not to be left out, the Rebellion and Empire also gain a handful of new heroes and units including Yoda, Luke Skywalker, Grand Admiral Thrawn and the second Death Star. Forces of Corruption also adds some new maps to conduct your galactic battles upon, including a handful of new planets.

While this expansion pack is an improvement to EAW, it cannot overcome the problems besetting the original. Battles can still drag on, and one of our biggest concerns--the lack of dimensions in space combat--is still present.

Forces of Corruption looks like it'll make some worthy additions to Star Wars: Empire at War. If you managed to enjoy the original, then Forces of Corruption is a good addition--for those that weren't impressed in the first place, it's best to steer clear and find something else on your shelf to play.

Star Wars: Empire at War: Forces of Corruption will be released in Australia on 25 October 2006.