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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Strategy

 

Publisher

Sega

 

Developer

Petroglyph

 

ESRB

T (Teen)

 

Released

December 2007

 

 

- Has a great sci-fi B-Movie vibe to it

- Creative units

- Hits all the RTS conventions

 

 

- The zoom level feels too close

- Game crashed for me consistently then sportadically

- System requirements for multiplayer are very high

 

 

Review: WarCraft III: Reign of Chaos (PC)

Review: Battle Realms (PC)

 

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Universe at War: Earth Assault

Score: 8.0 / 10

 

universe at war          universe at war

 

Universe at War: Earth Assault is a real-time strategy game that I really got to sink my teeth into. Not as “high level” as a game like Company of Heroes, but with a modicum of strategy that doesn’t get in the way of having fun Universe at War easily matches the level of Command & Conquer by including all the conventions of the real-time strategy genre and begin creative in the process.

 

Earth is the flashpoint for the meeting of humans (bit players, really), the machine race called Novus, the lumbering Hierarchy, and the mystical Masari – it’s the kind of thing that pulp sci-fi and B-movies are made of.

 

The campaign mode begins with Washington, DC under attack by the Hierarchy, but soon after the Novus show up to even the odds for humanity. And this is where Universe at War differs from most RTS games where the player has to choose a faction at the beginning of the game and play through to completion – Universe at War’s campaign is setup so that you’ll play each side throughout the story: from humanity to Novus to Hierarchy to Masari. The only downside is that by the time you’re really comfortable with one faction you’re moved on to the next.

 

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Each of the factions are different enough to make a difference in how strategy is laid out. Though they have permanent structures, the Hierarchy are the most mobile of the three main factions with their massive Walkers, which are not only equipped with an array of weaponry but can also produce and teleport other units at their location. It means that when a Habitat Walker – those are the bad boys

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on the cover art – begins lumbering toward your base there’s a real sense of urgency that the situation could quickly get away from you. (Playing as the Hierarchy creates a different sense: satisfaction.) That said, the game is still pretty balanced.

 

Even though I’ve had a lot of fun, Universe at War has a couple of problems, one of them would be impossible to address without re-working the game from a design perspective. The first problem was just how unstable the game was on my PC, even though it easily met the minimum requirements. After applying the patch, things were more stable but every second time I started a game, it would “crash” to the desktop. I put “crash” in quotation marks because Windows would say the game had encountered a problem but if I clicked on the tray icon and the game would pop right back up without any problems encountered after! The other problem is that the camera can’t be zoomed out far enough. It’s a personal preference, but I like to be able to zoom out far enough from the map to at least see most of my base, but that’s not possible. I found it disorienting to click on the mini-map to jump around everywhere. And when it comes to using or encountering a Hierarchy Walker using a regular 4:3 perspective monitor, it can easily take up ½ of the screen. If the interface and resource management wasn’t so streamlined and tidy, battles would be extremely frustrating because it can be difficult to develop strategic strikes due to the fact you can’t see more. The situation is a little better when played on a 16:9 monitor.

 

universe at war          universe at war

 

If you like your strategy games with a sense of fun about them, while still offering some actual strategy, Universe at War: Earth Assault should speak to you. Plus, if you get on board now, before the Xbox 360 release, you should have enough skill to completely obliterate anyone on a 360 since the game will support cross-platform play over Live.

 

- Omni

January 19, 2008

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