|System: PC, X360||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Petroglyph||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: SEGA||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Dec. 10, 2007||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-8||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Teen||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
by Cole Smith
Universe at War: Earth Assault, at first glance, looks like a cliché version of every sci-fi RTS game in existence. But when you take the time to explore, you will be rewarded with a very deep, fun, unique, and exciting game that stands out from the pack.
The problem is that you'll have to do a lot of digging to find the treasure. Thankfully you're reading this review, and I can tell you what to expect and where to look for it. Other gamers left to their own devices may give up before they discover just how much this game has to offer. The payoff is online, but you'll begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel in the scenario mode.
The single-player campaign is a great way to get familiar with the gameplay elements, as well as the different factions that you can play as. There are three in all, and they are very diverse. However, the single-player mode is streamlined for easy accessibility. All of the depth is contained online. Here you can customize your faction to the hilt, tailoring options to accommodate a specific gameplay style. Experimenting with different strategies is what this game is all about. All three factions are so diverse that it's like playing three different games. They are very well balanced despite such diversity, but you won't get your hands on all of the goodies in the scripted, single-player campaign.
As with virtually all RTS games, you will deal with micromanagement issues such as economy, resource gathering, base building, and the production of warfare units that include soldiers, weapons, ammunition, vehicles, and heroes. While the war takes place on planet Earth, you don't actually get to play as the humans, with the exception of the introduction. But after you see how weak and under-powered they are, you'll be glad that you can play as the aliens, who bring a lot more to the party.
The three main factions are all aliens. They have come to Earth to have it out once and for all. It all begins with the race known as the Hierarchy, which invade the planet. They have a very strong army, composed of huge, tank-like walkers that are as destructive as they are formidable. Assisting the humans in arresting the invaders is the Novus, a race of bots that can get around the map with incredible speed. Eventually the ancient mystic race known as the Masari enter into the battle. Each faction is incredibly different from the others, which makes for a very rewarding experience. All three heroes have different powers as well, but they have to be protected at all costs. A dead hero will cost you the campaign.
There are some great weapons such as the blackhole which creates a swirling, destructive vortex capable of clearing a screen. Powers such as mind-control and mind-reading help the various factions influence enemy units and also act as recon, gathering information on unit locations. The Novus use energy towers to teleport across vast distances on the map. They can get a swarm of bots together in seconds in virtually any location. Slower, but equally as versatile, the Hierarchy has mobile bases which lets them harvest and process resources on the spot. They can continue to create more units right on the battlefield sight. The Masari are homebodies. They create everything at their base, and produce some very powerful units. They have versatile builders which save them money, often harnessing their ancient powers, and have the ability to toggle instantly between equally powerful offensive and defensive units.