Empire At War might not have stunned us with its mild innovation and even milder Star Wars battles, but it was nevertheless an engaging and time-gobbling RTS-with-tactical-campaign-map-management-stuff. For the rabid few, however, it was a godsend: a Star Wars RTS that wasn't rubbish. Imagine that!
So the towering sales figures might have been a testament more to the number of satisfaction-starved Star Wars fans than to the quality of the game itself, but I doubt many of the people who bought the game were particularly disappointed. It was a solid game. The tactical campaign maps lacked the nuance and versatility of something like the Total War maps, but it nevertheless provided the kind of challenge that keeps you wanting to push forward, defeating intransigent enemies and spreading your colour all over the galaxy. If anything it was the real-time combat sequences that really bored me. They might have been pretty, but they were also utterly unexceptional in a time of demanding, highly accomplished RTS games. Forces Of Corruption does little to change that fact, even though it has suicide bomb-Ewoks.
And no, that idea does not justify an entire game, at least not in this case. Detonated Ewoks are but a sideshow. The Forces Of Corruption expansion actually has an entirely new core premise: a third galactic faction that uses intrigue, guerrilla warfare and criminal exploitation to get what it wants. It's a splendid idea, and makes full use of the Star Wars background materials. There's always been a huge criminal underworld just beneath the surface veneer of Imperial control and Rebel do-gooding that has been underexposed by Star Wars games. Given this general air of independent villainy that pervades the Star Wars universe it's surprising how rarely we get to play with the crime-lord characters. The odd bounty hunter here and there, but not at the level of Jabba and chums. And it's refreshing not be ultimate evil or Rebel heroes, and simply a greedy bastard trying to be top dog. That is Forces Of Corruption.