How Do We Kill It...
Universe At War starts out interesting enough. You being playing the technically non-playable faction of humans. The premise is that, in the middle of an alien invasion by the Hierarchy, very little of the military worldwide has survived. Your preallocated units have a pretty tough time battling through the straggling Hierarchy units for a few short missions familiarizing yourself with the game until you have to make your last stand as a large walker makes its way toward your small base. Just as your last units are about to be destroyed, the real game's story kicks in when the Novus portals in to assault the walker. At this point the prologue is done and the first campaign kicks in. You command Mirabel and her Novus forces.
While the prologue distinctly had a C&C feel to it, the rest of the game has a feel of its own. At least for the first two campaigns, the third has a more traditional feel to it. The unique gameplay style of the Novus becomes apparent relatively quickly. They are, effectively, a hit & run faction. They have fairly strong bases, and an array of units with special abilities such as amplifiers which, as the name implies, amplifies damage inflicted on a target by other friendly units. They harvest resources via a resource structure which automatically produces little shuttles that go out around the map and pick up resources. Should these drones be destroyed, new ones will be automatically produced. Their greatest strength, however, lies in their transitory nature. A pylon network players may build spanning the map which features cloaked "entry points" along an energy network. Any Novus unit can enter the energy stream at any of these pylons, including massive numbers of the cheap but fragile Ohm Bots, and exit at any other pylon. This provides many opportunities for fast strategies to pop into an area unannounced, strike hard, and get out, back to the perimeter of your (hopefully) secure base.
The Hierarchy campaign follows Orlok the Eternal, a disgruntled evil overlord who fears for the Hierarchy's future if it continues to exist purely to feed on war. It's an interesting twist on the story, but nothing truly captivating. The Hierarchy features what is definitely the most unique gameplay in the game, and possibly in the RTS genre at large. While they feature some static base defenses, they're pretty weak. What's more, other than turrets, the defenseless Arrival Site is pretty much the only structure they have. The Arrival Site provides a location to build Monoliths and Glyph Carvers. Monoliths are spy units which can teleport anywhere on the map, and in clusters, can provide reasonably capable attack/repair units. Glyph Carvers are the major construction units that build the other most important units of the Hierarchy's war machine: Harvesters, turrets, and Walkers.
Harvesters are heavily armored resource gathering walkers, and fairly expensive at that. They can be used as weak offensive units as well. The walkers come in three flavors and are extremely massive walking bases. Habitat walkers, the basic walker, is a formidable foe in its own right, heavily armed, armored, and capable of building all your main battle units all while crawling along the map. Assembly walkers are even larger and more heavily armed and armored, and produce most of the vehicle type units for the Hierarchy. The third walker, the Science Walker, produces no units, and is much less armed and armored than the others. But it's a walking research base which has, at high level, a devastating weapon which can disrupt and destroy an enemy base in rapid fashion.
The final faction, the Masari, is by far the most traditional RTS race in the game. They feature large sprawling bases, strong turrets, and a wide array of strong units. While all their units are fairly expensive, the results can be worth it. There's little more satisfaction than sending a squad of Peacebringers out to a Hierarchy Walker and watching them rip through the massive creature in mere moments. The Masari resource gathering is far more convenient than the others as it's the only race which doesn't need to scavenge resources from around the map, their resource structures pull energy from the air...in essence, they generate resources instead of collecting them. They do feature two unique elements beyond that. These being the ability of their construction units (Architects) to buff any structure while standing near it. In the case of turrets, it accelerates fire and increases damage. In the case of production buildings it can accelerate their production. The other element is their split nature of light and dark. Convert your Masari mode
to light, and you get a long field of view, and increased damage to your attacks. In dark mode your units gain "Dark Matter Armor" (regenerating shields) and move more quickly.
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