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April 14, 2008

Universally Bored

Honestly, I went into the Universe at War demo with no expectations. I had read no reviews, previews or feature articles about the game. I knew nothing of it. I was ready for any possible reaction. However, I didn't think that after the release of Command & Conquer 3 and the upcoming Supreme Commander, anyone would dare put out anything that couldn't compete with or surpass its current and past competition.

I thought wrong.

I started off in the tutorial level, which will take you a good 15 or 20 minutes. The first thing I noticed was the graphical detail. Even in the mini-cutscenes, which were apparently rendered ingame, the screen tearing, textures, polygon count and even the color palate were immediately begging to be criticized. The game could have easily been run on the original Xbox, provided someone actually knew how to code for that thing appropriately.

The camera, I soon found, was equally disappointing. A very small level of zoom control, fidgety and often cumbersome rotation and selection, and a weird minimap system and very clunky unit selection. The camera automatically zooms to some weird custom level to give you a better perspective on individual units being controlled at the time. Interesting idea, terrible implementation. All it does is make you lose any concentration and hopes for micro you may have had. Selecting multiple units, creating squads, and switching between squads is also a lot of trouble. Lack of any instruction on how to manipulate buildings and unit's abilities to a deeper extent made the demo experience that much more hastling.

Overall, I was not impressed, and if you haven't played the game or demo yet, I'd advise you to just wait for Supreme Commander or possible EndWar later in the year.

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