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Universe At War Demo on Live

I’ve had my eye on this one for a while now. There’s a strange bumper crop of RTS games on the 360 this year, but this one stood out for it’s unique setup and radically asymmetrical balancing. Also, Petroglyph did those Empire at War Star Wars RTS games, which I understood to be not-sucky.

I heartily applaud the complete absence of a playable human faction in this game. Too long have those bipedal meatbags shoehorned their way into what would otherwise be a respectable large-scale alien conflict. No, UaW has three playable races, all of which are much cooler than monkeys with thumbs. The above video demonstrates the capabilities of one such species, The Hierarchy, that builds walking bases with upgradable “hardpoints”. Generally speaking, if a game involves tweaking my own custom robots, that’s all I really need to catch my interest. Because I want to know: are there lasers? Cannons? Flamethrowers? Weird electro-bolt thingies? I bet there are.

Doesn’t hurt that the game is quite striking visually, either. Major Nelson says it’s 546 MB and ready for delivery to your intertubes.

(Update - I forgot, available for GOLD members. They delay demos for a week for Silver members, i.e. freeloaders/principled objectors like myself. Gods, that is a retarded policy.)


9 responses to “Universe At War Demo on Live”

  1. I agree that that’s a stupid policy as well, Nerf, even though I am a Gold member. I think that just because people aren’t willing to pay for multiplayer (understandable) delaying them on demos and other stuff for a week is a fricking lame tactic to pull. It’s not like it’s adding any value to a Gold membership or anything - it’s a fricking demo FFS. Anyways…

    I d/l it last night and gave it a spin. There’s a tutorial and two Skirmish maps and you have access to the Novus and Hierarchy factions. I enjoyed the tutorial and found parts of it quite hilarious (”I am designed for aggression. Provide different input.” “Unit 29-11, you will comply!” “…if I must.” - an exchange between an infantry robot and its commander, or along those lines anyways) and the controls were pretty decent for a console RTS. Your left stick is the camera movement, and right is camera rotation and zoom. A selects units (holding A allows you to ‘paint’ custom groups), and gives orders (Move, attack, gather, etc). Right trigger is used to access your ‘radar’ (read: mini map) and when holding the right trigger down you can move a cursor in the mini map with the right stick (can select where to move units to with A) or move the entire screen really really fast with the left stick. The right bumper controls group access - allows you to select buildings, all units of a specific type, heroes, or custom groups. Left trigger gives you access to the production menu or abilities menu depending on whether you have a building or unit selected. Can be hard to use in custom groups though as it provides little portraits of each unit and you have to cycle through to find the one you want. Left bumper provides access to research and upgrades and this is how you build a walking death mobile. Took me a little bit to figure out that hitting up on the D pad, focuses on the upper body hardpoints while hitting down focuses on the left hardpoints. It can be hard to see which hardpoint you’re focusing on as well so, if you’re like me, building a balanced war machine can be difficult… I like things to be symmetrical! And yes, there are lasers, cannons and radioactive artillery launchers to name a few upgrades, Nerf!

    I think the demo would’ve been better if they had included an early mission or two instead of the Skirmish maps, personally. I like the progression that campaigns provide when working with an RTS, and jumping into the skirmish leaves you wondering ‘How the hell do I get resources?’ (you build ‘worker units’ that pretty much scavenge for any earth buildings/vehicles and unit corpses) and similar things.

    A big problem I found is something that’s plagued me since I played Supreme Commander… once again, I feel like I’m way too close to the action to get a good feel of the overall battlefield. If they could let you zoom the camera out a little bit more, it would be much better. But this isn’t the only game where I felt that way… going back to WarCraft 3 and Dawn of War (and expansions), and trying the Command And Conquer 3 demo after SupCom all gave me a ‘crowded’ feeling with regards to the default zoom level. Oh, well, something to live with.

    Don’t know if I’ll be picking this up anytime soon, if ever, but it was fun to build weapons on a walking building. It’s also piqued my interest in the 360 port of SupCom. Wonder if that’ll turn out decent, or be a steaming pile of crap…

  2. Hey thanks for the details, Agreschn. I haven’t had a chance to try it out yet but I did pony up one of my free Live Gold month cards to snag it. :)

  3. Do you have Gears of War or easy access to it, Nerf? We’re having our usual Gears Friday night fragathon this week, and you could come play with us if you want (us being the regulars in the GoW Rollcall 2 thread in the GESC).

    It’s good fun, and it’s nice to chat with people while I’m waiting to respawn… I seem to have this problem with hanging back and thinking about things. Charging forward is what I like to do, and is probably one of the reasons why my K:D ratios are usually 1:1. ;)

  4. What’s your username on Live, Agreschn? I usually stick to TF2 for my online gaming but the crowd has been getting a bit thin lately and I don’t feel like diving back into CoD4 at the moment.might have to barge in on that.

  5. Gamertag is Agreschn. Creative, eh? ;)

    I’ve actually picked up CoD4 again with the release of the Variety map pack last week. Probably played more MP in the past week, then I have since launch! But we do get a Gears game going every week or two, or whenever somebody bumps the Rollcall thread.

    Probably start up around 9PM EST on Friday and go till whenever. I know we’ve gone two-three hours with a full group of 8 before. People are always hopping in and out. Feel free to throw me a friend request and then we’ll see if we can get you in on Friday.

  6. I play CoD4 (and TF2) exclusively on the PC, so they wouldn’t be options for the ARS community.

  7. Au contraire! ArsClan has two or three TF2 servers set-up! I should know because those are the only servers I play TF2 on! - all the info should be in the server information thread.

    I believe they also have a Call of Duty 4 server setup as well, but I play that on the 360 so I’m not sure of the details there. There should be a sub-forum for CoD4 that you can check out if you’re interested.

  8. I’m actually registered on arsclan, and I went there specifically for CoD 4. There was never any life during the time I was playing that one. I’ve been part of a PC gaming clan since 1999 and those are pretty much the only people I game with online. We have a TF2 server that’s seen a serious decline in players.

  9. That bites. I’m expecting to see an upswing in TF2 in the next little while with all the new achievements and Medic unlocks that have just been announced. That should bring some vitality and people back to the game. It’s just too bad that they don’t have updates for more than one class at once as that would’ve probably appealed to a lot more people.

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