Video Game: Universe at War
Universe At War: Earth Assault
, is a RTS
made by Petroglyph Games.
The game begins when in 2012
, humans notice something alien and really big on a collision course with Earth. They prepare for a heroic defense but are beaten to a pulp by the Hierarchy
, a race of Planet Looters
who have consumed thousands of worlds before Earth. Just when it seemed like all was over, the Novus, a race of machines
straight out of a Manga, appear.
These guys have a grudge against the Hierarchy, who destroyed their creators, and will take any chance they can get to avenge them.
Everything is going swell for the Hierarchy though, since the whole invasion was a trap
for the Novus. Then, an unnamed idiot in their ranks tripped over a pyramid and awakened the Masari, Ancient Astronauts
that were once the uplifters
of the Hierarchy (who repaid them by driving them to near-extinction). They decide to battle it out with all the factions at once
, but in a undramatic turn of events, the Masari wind up uniting with the Novus and what's left of humanity, and end the Hierarchy threat... for now, at least.
The game was created by the same minds that put together the first Command & Conquer
games, and while it's rather buggy (unless patched), relatively unknown, and uses that bane of gaming known as Windows LIVE, it's still an enjoyable, hammy and Troperiffic
little game. Since it never got very far in terms of sales, support from the developers has long since ceased. That, combined with the GFWL shutdown and the game getting removed from the Steam
store means it's becoming a rare game. Keep Circulating the Tapes
This work contains examples of the following tropes:
- A Commander Is You:
- Hierarchy: Brute Force, their Walkers provide a ton of firepower and their ability to crush buildings means they can easily make short work of bases if they can get close enough, and much of their research focuses on giving their units an extra punch. Most strategies with them involve getting a Walker into an enemy base, and then producing tons of units once inside. Also has elements of Technical, with Mind Control and machine magnet devices that be put on Science Walkers. They also have the best healing abilities, since Saucers and Defilers can heal vehicles and infantry, respectively, for free.
- Novus: Spammer and Technical, as their units are generally cheap, but fragile, and they can also Mind Control enemy vehicles and probably have the best artillery.
- Masari: Elitist and Technical, as they tend to rely on defensive strategies till they can bring out their tanks and air/artillery units in the late game. Their units have dual abilities that can be activated by switching to light and dark modes. Has elements of Economist, since they don't need to collect resources on the map.
- Action Girl: Mirabel as far as characters go; in regards to units, the Masari Sky Lords certainly count.
- Alien Invasion: In both classic and modern forms. The whole game is like a celebration of the Alien Invasion genre.
- It should be noted that the Hierarchy units are nods to various alien craft seen over the years, from Flying Saucers to cigar-shaped UFOs and "foo fighters".
- Aliens Speaking English: Subverted with Novus. They speak English in game, but it's shown to a Translation Convention and it actually takes them some time to understand English. Played straight with the Masari.
- Aliens Steal Cattle: The Hierarchy steals anything, but they really like cattle. So much so, you can get an achievement, Bovine Defender, if you abduct 200 in Conquer the World, and it is illegal for their Grunts to use plasma grenades on "indigenous bovines".
- The Hierarchy collects resources in two ways; gradually, by slowly sapping raw materials from large targets, such as buildings, or quickly by instantly absorbing small targets, like humans. Cows can be collected instantly and give a considerable resource pay off, arguably making them the best source of resources for a Hierarchy player.
- America Saves the Day: Nope. Although the good old USA is the last nation standing, and the main human resistance you see is American, the US military barely lasts hours against the Hierarchy.
- Ancient Astronauts: The Masari, source of both the Egyptian and Mayan styles.
- Apocalypse How: The Purifier is a Class 0, but repeated use as is the Hierarchy's MO is somewhere between Class 4 and Class 6.
- Attack Its Weak Point: The Walkers have hardpoints on the hull that must be destroyed in order to reveal their reactor or coolant systems,which, if destroyed, destroys them too. These hardpoints can be strengthened with armor at the cost of additional functionality.
- For the Habitant Walker: Destroy two of its four crown hardpoints to reveal two coolant nodes. Destroying these overheats and destroys the walker.
- For the Assembly Walker: There are two shield generators hidden at the base of the arms, which have to be destroyed. Afterwards you can destroy the reactor underneath the central hull.
- The Science Walker on the other hand is a giant Damage Sponge, utilizing Regenerating Shield, Static Health instead. It still has three crown hardpoints that can be destroyed. Destroying these will decrease its shield's regenerating rate, allowing you to land more hits to its core and hopefully destroy it quicker.
- Autobots, Rock Out!: All of the Hierarchy's music is Rock-based.
- Bad Ass: Practically everyone.
- Badass Normal: The human characters deserve a special mention. General Moore and Sergeant Woolard take on hyper-advanced aliens with a minigun and a really cool custom tank respectively and both manage to hold their own.
- Bad Boss: Kamal Re'x. He doesn't care about the lives of his troops and sacrifices them on a whim for his own advancement. His justification is that he considers their only reason for living is expanding the Hierarchy.
- Big Damn Heroes: The Novus, arriving just in time to kick ass and take names. As seen in the intro, a massive angel-shaped mech with a BFG and rocket pods appears along with a powerful army of machines to save the survivors of the human military from the Hierarchy; what could be more awesome? Oh, that's right, the Hierarchy's progenitors rising from the sea to enact some literal Divine Intervention.
- Blasphemous Boast: Orlok delivers one to the Masari Prince, Zessus. It Makes Sense in Context.
"I am Orlok, Commander of the Hierarchy battalions, General of the Galactic Fleet, Annihilator of a thousand worlds, and you are no longer a god of mine!"
- BFG / Arm Cannon: The Hierarchy, Orlok especially, love using these.
- Cannon Fodder: How Kamal sees his troops as. Keep in mind that the basic Grunt is still a lot stronger than it's counterparts.
- Also the Novus' Ohm Robots; they understand that they are meant to be cannon fodder and see no problem with filling that role.
- Cast from Hit Points: There's no mana or "energy" in this game, just a recharge time for special abilities, but two heroes (Prince Zessus and the Founder) have abilities that cost a portion of their hitpoints when used.
- Chronic Backstabbing Disorder: Nufai will gladly betray you if it means getting a higher rank. Orlok should've saw that coming...
- Cloning Blues: Mirabel has actually died and reborn many times, growing weaker every time. By the time of the game's events, she has grown so weak that she requires Viktor for protection.
- Compensating for Something: Orlok specifically says he is not doing it... We still have our doubts, though.
- Colony Drop: Since the Hierarchy's orbital guns were depleted trying to destroy the Masari City Ship during the campaign, they're reduced to dropping pieces of scrap from orbit as a makeshift super-weapon.
- Conscription: Apparently the Lost Ones are criminals and psychopaths used by the Hierarchy as cheap Cannon Fodder or for suicide missions.
- Dark Is Not Evil: Masari units in dark mode.
- Drop Ship: All Hierarchy structures are dropped from orbit and are ordered by setting up Crop Circles!
- Some missions feature regularly-arriving reinforcements, friendly and enemy, via troop transports.
- Earth Is the Center of the Universe: The Hierarchy wants to strip mine it, the Novus wants to stop them and there is the Ancient Astronauts' city/spaceship in the middle of the ocean? What's next? Cosmic space horrors from beyond?
- Subverted by the game's narrative: Earth is the center of the universe only by coincidence. The Hierarchy has been strip-mining planets for 10,000 years and only recently showed up at Earth; the Novus arrived because they were following the Hierarchy; and the Masari are on Earth because the last surviving Masari city-ship sought refuge on Earth precisely because Earth was out-of-the-way at the time.
- In other words, the coincidence is merely that the Hierarchy "trap-world" for Novus is also the planet where the Masari hid. It being Earth isn't a coincidence because of the Masari's striking resemblance to humans allowing them to blend in and "uplift" us.
- Evil Is Bigger: The Hierarchy in a nutshell. Their basic Mooks the Grunts dwarf most of the infantry on the other sides, their Brutes are around the size of vehicles, Orlok is the largest hero units in the game, and while their regular vehicles aren't as big as the Masari's tanks, their Walkers are larger than the buildings the other factions have.
- Evil Is Hammy: Khamal Rex.
- A Father to His Men: Orlok tries hard to be this, but is constantly pushed away from it by Kamal Re'x. It's why he's the most popular general in the Hierarchy.
- Fire-Forged Friends: General Moore and Mirabel. Originally Moore was distrustful of all aliens, but after a few fire-fights with the Novus saving human ass, Mirabel quickly becomes Moore's BFF
- Funny Background Event: Khamal and Orlok bicker so heavily after the first mission while their ship's aid tries to warn them that there is a nuclear missile heading for the ship.
- Gatling Good: General Moore carries a minigun. Sergeant Woolard has a tank with a gatling cannon.
- Game Mod: A few, most of which focus on adding the humans as a full faction and beefing up their fighting strength.
- Gunship Rescue: Subverted in the first human mission in which some Apache gunships wipe out the Hierarchy forces attacking you, but are then wiped out in short order by flying saucers. The gunships are one of the few human units that are any good at all against walkers, though.
- In fact, the gunships are probably the best human unit in the game, other than heroes.
- Heel-Face Turn: Played straight with Orlok, subverted with Nufai, who faked the whole thing to get a promotion.
- Huge Guy, Tiny Girl Mirabel is the small girl to Viktor's big guy (he is a Humongous Mecha after all).
- Human Aliens: Mirabel and probably the others of her race, before the Hierarchy killed them all.
- The Masari too, though they're generally taller and have brown-ish hair. Prince Zessus is an exception, since he's half-human, and is therefore shorter and blond.
- Technically, in the case of the Masari, we were created (or, more accurately, "uplifted") by them and given their powers for some unmentioned purpose (most likely another attempt like the one they tried with the Hierarchy). Alien Humans, maybe?
- Humanity Is Superior: Averted.
- Humanity on Trial: The Masari woke up and noticed humans haven't been cleaning regularly. The Hierarchy invasion was a bigger problem though, so they let it slide this time. Kamal Re'x does mention that they fought the Novus before Mirabel could clear things up.
- While the intro states that the Masari didn't like what humanity was doing to the planet, they don't want to wipe us out and state they would prefer for us to stay alive. Hell, they're the only race that doesn't use human homes for resources. It's made pretty clear that, whatever purpose they had in mind for the Hierarchy, they've decided we will fulfill.
- Ask them why they decided not to leave plans for their free energy generators lying around. Seriously, if we had their technology we wouldn't pollute a square inch of the Earth. Kill each other and wipe cities off the map? Probably. Pollute? No.
- Well, given that when they tried to similarly uplift the Hierarchy, they got pissed off at not getting everything and tried to wipe the Masari out, so they have good reasons for that.
- It's implied they did do some uplifting, probably back when copper was new and innovative. Free energy would be jumping the gun a little.
- Not forgetting those energy reactors had a tenancy to explode. Would you give a caveman a nuclear reactor?
- Humans Are Warriors: In spite of being hideously outmatched, humans put up a bold fight.
Vertigo: The sentient presence attempted an aerial assault on the Hierarchy base a few minutes ago.
Mirabel: What do you mean, 'attempted'?
Mirabel: ...they die bravely.
Vertigo: And needlessly.
- Humans Need Aliens: The Earth is invaded by a race of Planet Looters called the Hierarchy. We humans get our collective asses kicked, but just as all hope seems lost, the Novus, another alien race with a grudge against the Hierarchy, turn up and begin fighting them alongside us. Only then does the tide begin to turn. And then, the Masari, the Hierarchy's Precursors who were believed to have been hunted to extinction by the very race they uplifted, also turn up to deliver a little "divine retribution" to their errant children.
- Humongous Mecha: Hierarchy Walkers. All of them. Also, Viktor, Mirabel's "powered armor". Commander Orlok to, he's bigger than Viktor is.
- I Love Nuclear Power: The Hierarchy in general, but especially the Defiler. Turning random humans and cows into zombified mutants, while dealing damage to enemy units and healing your own. Geez, what can't Nuclear Power do?
- Win the campaign for them.
- Kill It with Fire: Humans have squads of flamethrower soldiers who do a decent job of clearing out enemy infantry, though they don't last long against Grunts or Brutes.
- Klingon Promotion: The Hierarchy takes pride in this, and it's how Nufai becomes Commander.
- Laser-Guided Tykebomb: The Novus, since the Hierarchy destroyed their creators while they were away.
- Last of His Kind: Mirabel is the sole survivor of her race, being the only one Novus managed to save from the Hierarchy. Nufai too had his race completely wiped out by the Hierarchy, but he doesn't care about them since he got a nice position in the Hierarchy's ranks in exchange for his race.
Orlok: Tell me, Nufai; your world was once destroyed by our armies. What did it mean to you?
Orlok: Those are the words of a traitor.
Nufai: But I still live to speak them - the others of my kin do not.
- Lightning Bruiser: Viktor is fast, fairly tough and packs quite a punch with its basic attacks and abilities. Used right, it can single-handedly take down Walkers, which are at least twice its size.
- Lotus-Eater Machine: Kamal Re'x gets put in one, courtesy of the Masari queen.
- Macross Missile Massacre: Viktor's Missile Barrage ability, in true mecha anime style, fires a swarm of missiles at the target area.
- Mecha-Mooks: Novus, especially the Ohm robots, who are programmed to be expendable, and are absolutely fine with it.
- The Hierarchy has a few with its Glyph Carvers, Reaper and Detection Drones, Defilers, and Saucers. Not sure about the Phase Tanks and Walkers.
- Mighty Glacier: The Hierarchy are pretty much an entire faction of these. Their units tend to be the slowest, but also the strongest. Special mention goes to their Walkers, which move even more slowly, but are extremely tough, and depending how they are built and upgraded, will be armed to the teeth and are so big that they can crush buildings.
- The biggest of the Hierarchy's Walkers are terrifyingly huge and powerful, and can take absurd amounts of punishment before going down with a very satisfying BOOM.
- Orlok is noticeably the slowest assault hero but is also the toughest. He can enter an Endure mode which effectively gives him Stone Wall defence and launch artillery barrages from clear across the map to compensate for this lack of speed.
- The Masari have the Peacebringer. Possibly a reference to the Mammoth Tank, it's slow, but can crush smaller vehicles, is extremely powerful and durable, and its main gun can fire at air units, pretty much making it an anti everything that moves unit. It can get an extra bit of firepower if its tractor beam, which normally just slows units down, gets upgraded to a disintegrator, which deals damage to a target every second.
- Mobile Factory: The Hierarchy is based on these.
- More Dakka: The Habitat and Assembly Walkers, which both come with a set of strong plasma cannons, and can be upgraded with even more plasma cannons or anti-air Lightning Guns on their legs. The Habitat Walker can also be upgraded with radioactive mortars placed on its head, and the Assembly Walker can be upgraded with rail guns or Frickin' Laser Beams on its arms.
- Not Using the Z Word: The zombies, which you get from killing a biological unit with radiological weapons, are called "Slaves" or "Mutants".
- Obviously Evil: Orlok, why the heck would you trust a shady guy who saved himself and got a high rank by backstabbing his entire race? Just because he's ( seemingly) helping you to backstab your boss doesn't mean he's not backstabbing you too!
- Our Elves Are Better: The Masari.
- The Plan:
- Remember that part when the Founder wonders about how humans managed to survive so long? It has nothing to do with humans being awesome, it was Kamal Re'x's plan to trap and exterminate the Novus.
- Later, Nufai's fake Face-Heel Turn also counts, since it allowed Kamal Re'x to capture prince Zessus.
- Planet Looters: The Hierarchy took this trope and made it into a business (does the title, Underseer of the Hierarchy Remote Mining Operations, tell you something?).
- Proud Warrior Race Guy: Orlok, as opposed to the rest of the Hierarchy. This leads to his Heel-Face Turn and eventual death.
- Puny Earthlings: The tutorial mission is the only time you play humans, and its Unwinnable. For added puniness, when attacking the nuclear missile silos as the Hierarchy, armor up some walkers and just walk past the human army. The silos go down as soon as you step on them.
- Redemption Equals Death: Poor Orlok.
- Regenerating Health: All heroes regenerate health.
- Regenerating Shield, Static Health: Masari units in dark mode gain "dark matter armor" which is basically a regenerating shield that absorbs damage. Also, the Hierarchy's Science Walker has a regenerating energy shield that protects its core.
- The Revolution Will Not Be Civilized: The Hierarchy's backstory reveals that they waged war with their precursors, the Masari. They ended up gaining the upper hand and went on to brutally hunt down and eliminate the Masari to extinction (or so they think they did). Subverted in that they did so not because the Masari were oppressing them, they're just a bunch of ungrateful bastards who thought that they're strong enough to overthrow their superiors and went on to murder everyone else.
- Orlok's rebellion is just as violent, even though it doesn't last long.
- Royals Who Actually Do Something: The Masari Prince Zessus certainly counts; his mother, not so much, but she does step onto the battlefield in the final mission.
- Shout-Out: And how!
- Colonel Moore is a reference to the real-life soldier Hal Moore, of We Were Soldiers Once, and Young.
- Sergeant Wollard is a reference to Martin Sheen's character in Apocalypse Now.
- The crop circles created by the Hierarchy Glyph Carvers are used to call in Hierarchy structures in a manner reminiscent of M. Night Shyamalan's Signs.
- The Novus Dervish aircraft has an ability called Death Bloom, a reference to The Last Starfighter.
- The Novus hero Viktor (piloted by Mirabel) is an homage to almost every giant robot in the history of anime, from hidden missiles in the overly-large shoulder pauldrons that fire in huge bursts to a charged-up beam rifle.
- The Hierarchy Defilers (tripods with a radiation gun) are a direct reference to the tripods in The War of the Worlds.
- The Novus are a collective reference to Isaac Assimov; their Ohm robots are clearly reminiscent of the robots in the film I Robot, and are very protective of their creators and vengeful over their extermination. Word of God has it that the design of Novus units and structures was inspired by the iPod.
- The one exception to the iPod aesthetic is the Founder; as the original precursor all the other robots are descended from he looks like a masculine robot-Maria instead.
- One response made by the Novus Hackers is "Would you like to play a game?. Another is "No system is safe".
- The basic units of the Hierarchy are Grunts and Brutes, reminiscent of Halo.
- A good number of units in the game are clear references to units from the older Command & Conquer games in terms of names and how they function, such as the Hierarchy Brute (Yuri's Brutes), the Novus Variant (able to disguise itself as environmental objects just like the Allied Mirage Tank) and the Masari Peacebringer (commonly compared to the Mammoth Tank).
- While the entire concept of Planet Looters is dated, it's likely that the Hierarchy was inspired by Independence Day.
- Oh, and the Hierarchy invasion begins in 2012. What are the odds?
- Slap-on-the-Wrist Nuke: Averted. While the Hierarchy's orbital command ships can take one or two nukes, it's implied such "radiation weapons" are a big threat to them, which is why they prioritize their destruction.
- Slave Mooks: The Hierarchy uses them a lot.
- Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: The Masari, to quote a Hierarchy Intel Officer on their technology;
"It was said the Masari could create energy from nothing!"
- They also have a god-complex of sorts, but it's not wholly undeserved, considering they're the most advanced faction, both in terms of technology and gameplay-wise: the Masari are best attacked early, otherwise, they can fortify their base and send wave after wave of overpowered units at you, since they have no resource limitations (that bit about making energy from nothing isn't just fluff).
- Tank Goodness: The Masari Peacebringer, which is usually compared with the Mammoth Tank.
- The Starscream: Nufai who sold out Orlok to get his rank.
- Tripod Terror: The Hierarchy Defilers are the scariest tripods ever: their main attack is a radiation-based beam cannon, they have a Wave Motion Gun that leaves a radiation cloud behind, and their secondary fire mode bleeds nuclear waste, turning organic units into Zombies. Reaper Drones and Detection Drones are also Tripods, albeit less dangerous. Then, you have the Science Walker.
- Troperiffic: The whole game is specifically designed to take advantage of every conceivable Alien Invasion trope.
- Weapon of Mass Destruction: For the Hierarchy - Mass Drop and Radiation Cascade; Novus - EMP and Black Hole Bomb; Masari - Burning Wrath and Matter Storm.
- We Have Reserves: Both the Hierarchy and the Novus use this. Novus troops, being Mecha-Mooks, actually support this.
- Kamal Re'x of the Hierarchy; his solution to any problem is 'throw more men at it,' and he's willing to sacrifice massive amounts of resources, including command vessels and senior generals, if he thinks he'll look good doing it.
- Wolverine Claws: Nufai.
- X Meets Y: The War of the Worlds meets Gundam meets Star Gate, all in a Command & Conquer-ish package.
- Zerg Rush: Both the Hierarchy and the Novus do this.