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PC | Strategy | Universe at War: Earth Assault

Boxart for Universe at War: Earth Assault
Universe at War: Earth Assault 16 screen shots
  • GRAPHICS: 4.25
  • SOUND: 3.50
  • CONTROL: 3.50
  • FUN FACTOR 4.00
  • AVG USER SCORE n/a
  • AVG CRITIC SCORE 4.0

Review: Universe at War: Earth Assault

Universe At War is like a breath of fresh air that carries with it the vague stench of something foul. It offers three interesting and diverse sides, great graphics, and some tantalizing strategic elements but it's afflicted by some unfortunate quirks that hold the game back.

Universe At War begins with Earth in near total ruin after an alien race, the Hierarchy, invades the planet in a quest to strip mine our resources and wipe out humanity in the process with a Darwinist's sense of glee. You pick up what's left of the American military around Washington and attempt to make one last stand; from there, a second alien race, the Novus, are introduced and things really get hairy. But hold on: there's yet another alien race, the extremely powerful Masari, who enters the picture late in the game.

Like other prominent RTS games, you get to play as each of the races and this propels along the single-player campaign. The three alien races are quite diverse and offer very unique gameplay experiences. The Novus, for example, are fragile but fast, the Heirarchy relies on brute force and the Masai offers a mix of both; it's not groundbreaking but the balance between each side is tight, which should prove especially beneficial for the game's multiplayer component. The gameplay also offers a nice mix of tactical and strategic elements and visually speaking, the game shines with amazing battlefields and animations.

Unfortunately, the overall game is hampered by a few flaws. The pathfinding is suspect which often led to units getting stuck or wandering where they shouldn't. Furthermore, there were some interface issues, such as a problem with getting units grouped into squads. There are other little quibbles, like infantry units being presented as individuals rather than as an overall squad, which really makes unit management a chore. Build queues are also limited to six units, so churning out a massive army requires constant babysitting of your production buildings. None of these issues by crippling in and of themselves but are persistent and annoying throughout.

Universe At War is ultimately a game of contrasts. On one hand it has plenty of great ideas and promise, but it lacks that polish that helps elevate games towards greatness. I'd still recommend that gamers check out Universe At War but it's a shame that it doesn't quite live up to its potential. That said, fans of the genre, especially those looking for the next big multiplayer RTS experience, will undoubtedly find much to admire in this package. At the least, it'll help you tune up for Starcraft II. Andrew Dagley