Empire Earth is a 2001 realtime strategy game, spanning half a million years of human history of bashing each other's head in over marginally relevant disputes.
Russian campaign: 1:02:25 by Maik Biekart, done in 6 segments.
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The Russian campaign of Empire Earth is set in a fictional future where Soviet Russia is once again united under one banner to conquer the world. With robots. EVIL ROBOTS!
I chose to start off with this campaign as it has the most speed tricks and all missions are very interesting. The other three campaigns have some pretty boring filler missions. The Russian campaign is also the shortest, with only 6 missions.
Shoutouts to Oblivion's guide on Empire Earth glitches, which encouraged me to try running EE in the first place and helped making routing a lot easier.
Empire Earth's game time seems accurate (i.e. based on real time, not FPS or anything abusable), but it runs a lot faster than real time, so take the end time with a pinch of salt.
The most important glitch used in this run is the Free Resources glitch, detailed by Oblivion. It works by spending resources (like building units), then quickly accessing the Tribute menu. With the right timing, the resources will have been spent, but still be available on the tribute menu. Offering to tribute the resources you don't have to anyone, and then cancelling the offer, will refund you the resources you already spent. If you want to, you can then cancel the unit building and stack up resources.
Escort Grigor to Volgograd.
Destroy the Capitol at Voronez.
By far the biggest advantage of the Russian campaign is that the Modern age gives access to some devastating unit types. One of those is the atomic bomber. While a rather slow, vulnerable, and highly expensive unit, its damage is massive.
Two atomic bombers will instantly destroy the Capitol, making the only problem getting them there safely. To solve that, I send my first troops to destroy the anti-air guns outside of the Voronez base, and then distract the ones inside with observation balloons.
Game time: 8:30
Destroy two out of three European Capitols.
Destroy the Rebel Capitol.
The second powerhouse of Modern units is the Artillery. Thanks to Civ upgrades, these beasts can easily get over 20 range (that's 3 times the range of the average unit), which effectively ignores a lot of level design that goes on in this map.
For the two capitols to destroy, I choose Yellow (Finland, I guess?), because they offer absolutely no resistance to my starting units and therefore require no effort, and Purple (Sweden?), because the artillery's range allows me to completely disregard their defenses. A squad of tanks safeguards some additional artillery to destroy the Rebels.
This mission does give a sneak peak to the worst part of speedrunning this game: enemy AI is completely unpredictable. In this mission, the two biggest random elements are a squad of Rebel tanks and AT guns, which could just destroy all my artillery (in this case they decided to attack my base instead), and whatever reaction yellow and purple have to my invasion. Yellow making a tank to destroy my artillery has never happened in any other attempt, but luckily it was too late to make a difference. The one artillery I lose does not slow down the destruction of the purple capitol.
Game time: 7:07
Changing of the Guard
Destroy the Fortress in the center of the rebels' base.
Kill the leaders of the rebels.
A somewhat gimmicky mission. You're supposed to escort Grigor to pretty much every military facility in the city to build up a huge army, to then utterly crush any resistance. Of course, I ain't got time fo dat, so I only get one single group of reinforcements.
To waste as little time as possible, I send only Grigor to the barracks in question, while everyone else starts attacking the gates into the base. Normally, as the dialogue explains, this would make Molotov and Grigor II stop what they're doing and run after Grigor to defend him. However, it's possible to spam-click to override these scripted events, so even those two can continue attacking the gate.
Once the gate is down, my goal is to clear out just a few units while on the move, doing the best stutter-stepping this game allows, then focus on the fortress and pray enough units survive and none of my heroes die. Somehow, I keep a lot more units up than usual, which makes killing the rebels pretty quick as well.
Game time: 5:41
Jewel in the East
Capture 8 Cyber Factories or Cyber Laboratories.
Lead Molotov to the Time Machine.
This mission is where random AI becomes a massive PITA. I'm up against 3 factions, all of whom have groups of units pretty much randomly running around the map, and I need to get half a dozen Priests to cross the map safely. A single lucky group can kill all my priests and ruin the attempt.
The only efficient way to get 8 Cyber buildings is to convert five of the six in the south-east city, along with the three in Baotou. Before you're able to convert anything, however, you need to destroy Universities, as they block the ability to convert (social criticism woo!). And of course, I'll have to kill a bunch of units and towers to keep those priests safe, as well as open up a way to that time machine.
To make matters easier (especially that last objective), I abuse the signature ability of the Apollo cyber. Ion Shield halves all damage taken by a unit, which is then further reduced by armor (which I've upgraded), making my units take almost no damage from towers instead of being three-shot by them. Especially for Molotov's little hike it's a life saver.
I lost a lot of units in the extraordinarily massive battle for the city, but they don't actually do that much damage against buildings (the hero units do most of the work) so it's not a big deal. Conversion speed can be extremely random, so the fact that the final conversion lined up pretty well with Molotov's arrival makes this mission good enough for me.
Game time: 12:43
A Change of Heart
Build a base consisting of 3 Cyber Factories, 2 Docks, and 1 Navy Yard on Cuba.
Replace the Cuban Capitol with one of your own.
Build and defend a Time Machine on Cuba.
This mission is divided in two parts. First, the conquering of Cuba, followed by Molotov's desertation and the re-conquering of Cuba from Novaya Russia.
The first part comes down to getting a large enough army into Cuba to clear it of its defenses so you can sneak in civilians to build the necessary buildings. My unit of choice is the Ares, with its obvious advantage of being able to fly, as well as having the best building DPS of any Cyber. Many thanks to the Free Resources glitch, I can build a flock of 15 Ares to escort a Transport Helicopter, and demolish the Cuban capitol. Again, anti-air guns are a small problem, so my starting forces deal with those.
Of course, constructing buildings costs wood, and I spend a very large amount of it this mission. Rather than gather it manually, I just build and cancel Transport ships until my Wood is back at 2500.
The second part of the mission is supposed to be really difficult, because you give away all the buildings and units you build before to Novaya Russia. But with this strategy, they don't have an army left, and a pretty small amount of forces. The few units I'm given, along with some cautionary towers and AA guns, are more than plenty to survive. Sadly, waiting for the time machine to charge takes a whole 10 minutes real time, so I spent the majority of this mission screwing around.
If someone could tell me where the hell Novaya Russia gets those helicopters from, considering they DON'T HAVE AN AIRPORT (check the revealed map at the end! Nothing!) I'd be obliged.
Game time: 25:13
A Bad Case of Déjà Vu
Kill Grigor II.
Bring either Molly or Molotov to Grigor's hideout.
The title of this mission is hilariously fitting. We travel back in time to change the outcome of the first mission, by using the exact same strategy as in the first mission.
Again, atomic bombers are king. But they're not the whole strategy. While three of them are building, I mass up as much of an army as I can afford (I don't really have the time to abuse Free Resources too much). The bombers are great for breaking open the two gates at volgograd, but Grigor II also needs to die. Luckily, his spawn location is right underneath my bombers, and right in front of my army, giving me plenty space to eliminate him and beat the mission.
Game time: 4:45
While this run is far from perfect, and both better micro skills and perhaps updated strategies could save time here and there, I'm happy enough with both the routing and execution to leave it up for competition to improve on. Gotta get those English and German campaigns ran!
German campaign: 1:26:58 by Maik Biekart, done in 7 segments.
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After finishing the Russian campaign speedrun, I only wanted MOAR. So I set out to routing the German campaign as well, set in world wars 1 and 2. Without access to atomic bombers, most of this campaign is a little more strategic, though siege weapons and especially transport ships still play a significant role in breaking the mission wide open.
Again, the main glitch this run abuses is the free units glitch, which works by queueing up units, then immediately refunding their build cost through the tribute window. Aside that, most of the routes were devised by using the game's scenario editor to read triggers and scripts and finding out how to abuse them.
In-game time is inconsistent with RTA, but I still use it as my main reference point for speediness.
1. Cavalry of the Sky
Cross the frontlines to safety.
Don't believe what the mission says, photographing the military sites is purely optional. Though, oddly enough, the devs decided that, in order to keep your army hidden until you complete that objective, they'd make them an enemy faction. This makes it rather difficult to keep Holk and Richthofen alive before they reach the tent that triggers victory, but it also leads to a rather hilarious mass suicide at the end.
This mission has tons of potential for minuscule optimizations, but most of those rely on either RNG with the enemy patrols all missing you, or simply praying the pathfinding doesn't mess up somewhere. Sub-7 in-game time was my goal, and I got it.
2. Supply and Demand
Ensure 20 transports arrive at the docks.
The only way I can actively influence the speed of this mission is by building the first docks as fast as possible. After that, I'm fully at the mercy of transport RNG. I don't understand how it's supposed to function, but it seems like every aspect of them is random: Southern vs northern route, exact spawn location, delay until it starts moving, time until a new transport spawns. As a result, the ending times vary wildly but only by a few bare seconds. 24:27 is the fastest I've achieved and I doubt it can get too much faster.
I do try to use Frigates to nudge the transports along and make them go faster, but I cannot confirm whether this actually helps at all. Outside of that, I only have to make sure no transports die, and for the rest of the mission I just do whatever I feel like to keep myself (and viewers) entertained.
3. The Red Baron
Destroy the three forts.
Eliminate the Anti-Richthofen Squad.
The first actually difficult mission in the campaign. There are four objectives which each require an entirely different approach, and need switching from one side to the other constantly.
First, the eastern fort can be destroyed with only your starting units, as the AI barely bothers defending it. My spotter balloon sets up line of sight for my artillery to safely take out the towers, after which everyone moves in to efficiently kill all the buildings.
Second, the artillery spotter balloon can singlehandedly destroy one of the forts, so I obviously choose the one furthest away from me.
Third, the western fort is assaulted with an army of Howitzers. This fort is heavily defended, in a manner that is completely random. There could be tanks here. There could be infantry here. There are always a bunch of artillery in widely differing positions. And worst is, howitzers are horrible to micro because they move slow, accelerate slow, their turn rate is attrocious, and they tend to stumble over one another. In order to alleviate some of the randomness, I put houses and towers around the siege factories, which will prevent artillery units from spawning out of those buildings, but it can only help so much. It takes extreme luck to even enter the fort unharmed, and succesfully destroying every building at a good speed barely ever happens.
Finally, once the forts are destroyed, a squad of fighter planes spawn in the upper right corner that need to be destroyed. Since waiting for them to fly to your base is slow, I sneak my civilians into that corner to build an airfield, allowing me to keep a flock of planes very close to the spawn location for a speedy kill.
There's definitely some optimization possible here, but it'd just require even more blind luck.
4. The Somme
Destroy the capitols at Peronne, Roye and Montdidier.
Build a barracks on the capitol sites.
For once, I don't have to abuse the free resources glitch, as the game offers me nigh infinite amounts anyway. You're supposed to build up an army here, while random soldiers from the west side try to scout you out, but somehow the devs forgot you can build transports over the river and completely avoid the detection triggers that way. I still have to stay undetected and below 100 supply to keep my resources, and also to keep the Blue player inactive all game long, but that's no big deal... usually.
Destroying Peronne is simplicity itself. Getting rid of the airfield allows me to use this area as a forward base, from which I can set up assaults on the other two cities.
Roye has a bunch more defense, so it requires a bit of preparation. Destroying the artillery on the mountain is vital to keeping my army healthy at the chokepoint, and from there tanks and howitzers do all the work with ease.
Lastly, Montdidier is the best defended, mostly because its planes and units actually start attacking you while you're still approaching. The army, as big as it is, is therefore a suboptimal approach; instead, I just bomb the place and sneak my civilians into the city.
It's vital that I build the barracks in this order (Montdidier, then Peronne, then Roye), because the Montidier barracks is the riskiest to build, while finishing Peronne's barracks causes a bunch of unit spawns that would destroy the Montdidier barracks pretty quickly.
What makes this mission by far the worst out of the entire campaign is the sheer amount of things that can go wrong. Accidentally hitting 100 supply or getting discovered activates the blue player, who will kill my civilians. Random fighter planes or bombers can kill my civilians (as they almost did). They can also kill the howitzer whose task it is to destroy the artillery, which can make conquering Roye impossible. And that's just the RNG, there's plenty of room for me to screw something up as well.
5. Lightning Warfare
Destroy the capitols of Poland, Scandinavia, and France.
Build town centers on the capitol sites.
This mission, like the previous one, expects you to build up an army in your base before setting out to conquer everything. And again, the devs forgot water is a thing. I'm sure the Allies don't mind me positioning units by their capitols, right?
To make sure that I'm actually able to destroy the capitols and keep my civilians safe, I abuse a really silly oversight: attack ground on top of "enemy" units kills them without being at war with them. Sadly the structures are triggered to heal on any damage taken, so I will eventually have to declare war, but I can do so when everything is as safe as possible.
Problem is, AI is random. The two major runkillers are the Polish tank army, which just drives around randomly and can take far too long to destroy, and France, which can either instantly overrun my units, or ignore them completely. Protective structures can help and/or distract, but success is very random.
6. Preparations for Invasion
Destroy all of Britain's docks.
Destroy the British Home Fleet.
The only mission in the campaign where I truly abuse the hell out of the resource glitch. The Home Fleet is a pretty significant force, so to get rid of it as speedily as possible I'm gonna need a lot of units, fast. Since the game starts me off with 4 naval yards, u-boats are the obvious choice, and they're furthermore optimal for being small (thus allowing better concaving) and immune to battleships and carriers.
While those guys are building, I start getting rid of a few docks on the north end with some battleships, and build up an airforce to deal with the last remaining docks. Here the mission's RNG shines: Britain will construct battleships whenever it can, but where those things end up, how many they'll be able to get, and how annoyingly positioned they are, is all random. Furthermore, whenever a convoy reaches Britain, they're able to build docks manually, which they can do literally anywhere on the island, forcing me to keep every edge covered so they don't sneak one past me.
This is one of those missions that could be infinitely optimized, but this is the only attempt where I've managed to clear every dock before destroying the home fleet, without any complications or major errors, so I'm fine with it.
7. Operation "Sea Lion"
Destroy Buckingham Palace.
Build a Town Center in place of Buckingham Palace.
A surprisingly easy mission, everything considered. There's nothing preventing you from sending a group of bombers directly to Buckingham Palace and immediately destroying it. A transport filled with civilians has to manouver past a bunch of sea mines, but that's no big issue. And the trigger area for what counts as Buckingham Palace is so big, putting a town center outside the walls still touches the triggers and counts for victory. Kind of a shame that this mission is so simplistic when speedrun, but hey, gotta go fast.
Total game time: 86:58.
All in all, this campaign was a lot more difficult to execute than the Russian campaign. After the first two missions, several hours of grinding were necessary to bring the runs anywhere close to optimized, using the riskiest strats I could think of. The amount of time I'd need to put in just to shave a few more seconds off some of these missions is hardly worth the effort when there's no competition in running this game.