Universe at War: Earth Assault
Between intense multiplayer clashes in Supreme Commander and looking forward to C&C 3: Tiberium Wars we received sudden 'hot off the plate' information about Universe at War: Earth Assault, the new RTS-game from Petroglyph, creators of Star Wars: Empire at War and the expansion Forces of Corruption. Even more, this RTS is already planned for the end of this year. 2007 will turn out be one of the best RTS years ever since the genre was invented in 1992.
The PC development branche can be tough. Just ask the boys and girls from Westwood who, together with Blizzard, dominated the RTS market for years with series such as Command & Conquer and Red Alert, but were shut down by EA because of two disappointing games (the shooter C&C: Renegade and the MMO Earth & Beyond). Of course, the talent couldn't just be lost, so they were offered a position in LA, but many of them didn't care for moving from Las Vegas to LA so immediately began creating a new development studio called Petroglyph. As 'mercenaries' they delivered for Lucasarts the RTS-game Star Wars: Empire at War which became an enormous hit, ensuring the financial future for Petroglyph. High time for Petroglyph to do something new.
-- Do we come in peace? Muahahaha, of course not, silly! Otherwise there would be no game! --
War of the Universe
And that new became Universe at War, a brand new RTS-series which is not bound to some existing universe (like Star Wars), meaning the creators also get full creative freedom to do whatever they want. Universe at War is about an alien race called The Hierarchy, that specializes in exterminating other races in the galaxy and consuming all available resources on the planets which they fancy. Because of this, many races became completely of partially extinct, others have fled in the hope to survive on another planet. In other words, there are quite some races wanting to take revenge on The Hierarchy, but no single race is strong enough to face up to this heavily armed harvesting machine. Until The Hierarchy decides to make a stop on our planet. Fuel up and leave? Not a chance in hell, you dirty alien scum!
-- Even this little and vulnerable Science Walker is still many times bigger than a standard soldier in this game --
War on Earth
The first RTS-game in this series will be Earth Assault. The title alone says enough. In 2012 The Hierarchy approaches our planet with giant motherships that shoot collosal Walker units to our planet surface with just a single mission: gather as many people, plants, animals and resources. Humanity is transported to the motherships like Human McNuggets and it goes without saying that we don't just let that happen. Despite the panic and chaos humanity still succeeds to create a global army which uses tanks, jeeps, machine guns and choppers to fight the Walkers. And then something happens that The Hierarchy didn't expect. The resistance of the humans happens to be the signal for the many inflicted races in the galaxy to join the fight against The Hierarchy. This battle is primarily told in the next RTS games which have been planned for this series, but the developers let us know that even in the first game humanity can count on high-tech support from the unmeasurable universe. Otherwise we would have never survived the coming of The Hierarchy, apparently.
-- All continents and all major capitals will be having it rough in Universe at War --
Where the earthlings get to use a more traditional army, we are presented with a unique RTS-faction for The Hierarchy. For starters, The Hierarchy doesn't have a lot of problems with finding and harvesting resources: they can harvest anything. Resources that are completely useless for the other sides in this RTS-series, can be used by The Hierarchy to produce units. The Hierarchy's main unit is a gigantically large RTS-unit that can be customized depending on the function you want it to perform (combat, harvesting, transport, factory in which other units are created, etc). Walkers reside in giant space ships in orbit around the earth and are shot down to the surface on command, where they impact with a giant bang, reminding us to the buildings of the Space marines in Dawn of War. These Walkers are equipped with several hardpoints on their torso and legs, where they can attach, using teleport technology, extra modules and weapons like plasma cannons, shields, Mind Control modules and weapons that spread radioactive dust particles or spontaneously mutate humans. Walkers can send out the smaller Reaper Drones which convert anything they meet into raw material that can be used to create new units. As player you decide how to equip your Hierarchy units and which tactics to use. You can use the hardpoints on the vulnerable Science Walker to create auras to boost other units. But you can just as well equip the Science Walker with powerful ranged weapons to deal heavy damage from behind the protection of the heavy Walkers.
-- The scale of the units emphasises the 'War of the Worlds'-theme --
Just like in Star Wars: Empire at War the Universe at War RTS-series will use a 'persistent' campaign mode. For the first part, Earth Assault, the developers divided the globe, like Risk, into zones that can be conquered (Global game mode). In these zones you can control bases, create units and move units from zone to zone. When enemy units appear in a zone, you can send forces there after which the game enters the tactical game mode comparable to average RTS games. Although, average wouldn't do the game justice, because the way the units engage in combat is quite spectacular. When the giant Walkers turn on their harvesting machines and reduce everything to rubble with their impressive plasma beams, you can't help but think of War of the Worlds. Hopefully the soldiers in this game don't have any moral or fear parameter because who would want take his machine gun to a walking building that just survived a fiery trip through the atmosphere and a hard landing?
In short, this new series looks promosing because who knows what will happen when ex-Westwood geniuses suddenly get total creative freedom. We are already on the first row to witness the end of the world.
-- Every side in this game has several Tech Trees (offensive, defensive, ...) so that, as gamer, you can decide in which direction you want to take the game. --
Expected end 2007