by Patrick Steinmann
previewed on PC
Of all the innovative features in Universe at War: Earth Assault, something called ‘Tactical Dynamics’ is the most fascinating by far. Bear with me as I explain. Tactical Dynamics allows you to change your faction’s tactics and researched technology on the fly. All three tech trees have three branches, each containing four suites of technology. Every suite gives better technology than the one before (at higher cost obviously), but as you can only research six suites per match, you must choose wisely. Making the choices all the more agonizing is the fact that for every second-tier suite you have researched, you get a powerful hero unit. However, due to ‘Tactical Dynamics’, you can un-research any suite at any time.
What makes the tech tree dilemma even more interesting is how each faction will implement the new technology. The Hierarchy, whose tech tree will feature radiation enhancement, technology development, and weaponry improvement branches, simply bolt new suites onto the hard-points of their walkers. The Novus, featuring virus development, stealth and defence upgrades, and laser network upgrade branches, will only be able to have two suites active at any given time. The Masari use the Light/Dark system to activate suites. In their tech tree, one branch features Light upgrades, one branch features Dark upgrades, and the third offers a nice mix of both. Depending on which mode you are in, some suites will be in effect while others are unavailable.
The graphics look crisp and masterfully animated. Units and buildings look very distinctive and nicely fit in with their faction’s theme. Small, eye-catching details are plentiful. Dust rises when the walkers stomp down and or little machines can be seen working on buildings. It all adds to the sense of depth and realism. Even the music suits the factions. Almost all of it has been especially written with each individual faction in mind.
There are a few things that we hope to see improved in the final version. The most important of which is being able to see the effects of battle appear on buildings. Charred, scarred or damaged, we really don’t mind which way it goes but right now buildings emerge pristine after combat.
Despite a few small concerns, Universe at War: Earth Assault looks to be a promising addition to the impressive line-up that is available for Christmas this year. So I close up by answering my own question: Yes, Universe at War: Earth Assault has everything it needs to live up to its genes, although only time will tell if it turns out to be the next Command & Conquer.