Software Review: 'Universe at War'

Despite some technical issues, the graphics are good and the story line is interesting.

universe 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
universe 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Universe at War: Earth Assault, a DVD-ROM in English by Petroglyph for Sega, distributed by Hed Artzi Multimedia, requires Windows XP and up and a 2.8 Ghz PC or better, for ages 16 through adults, NIS 219. Rating: **** Reporting the fact that Israeli astronomers helped discover a new solar system similar to ours put me in the mood to play this real-time strategy (RTS) game in which three races of alien robots fight over Earth while humanity cringes in fear. If they manage to destroy our home planet, maybe the newly discovered system will have a spare one for us to build on (and maybe ruin) from scratch. While most recent RTS games have been uninspired and broken little new ground, this one offers some new challenges and perspectives even though it doesn't really innovate. The game designers and programmers at Petroglyph in Las Vegas nevertheless are betting that it will catch some attention among gamers with action reminiscent of War of the Worlds. Both singleplayer and multiplayer modes are attractive. Although the story is staged in the future, it is in 2012 - only a heartbeat away compared to sci-fi games that are set in a far-away era. Members of the human race run for their lives when an alien army called the Hierarchy lands on Earth - descending first in Washington DC. Like a combination giant vacuum cleaner and garbage disposal, this race doesn't create new material but gobbles up cars, buildings and other matter and turns them into new fighting machines. Mankind is decimated by these robot walkers, which serve as fortresses while they perambulate, but you take control of those humans who survived. Then another robotic race called the Novus comes out of nowhere to fight the Hierarchy with land, air and sea units, but they are far from altruistic. All the deadly combat arouses an ancient race called the Masari, who have been dormant for millennia under the Earth's surface and are wakened by the battles above. After unlocking the Masari, you'll see they're traditional forces that spend their time constructing well-protected bases. You can lead any of the races in turn, with each type of campaign very different. Despite some technical issues, such as the frustrating near-inability to zoom out for an overall view - the graphics are good and the story line is interesting.