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Video Game / Urban Assault

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Urban Assault is an RTS/FPS hybrid created by Terratools, published by Microsoft. The planet Earth has been polluted to the point of being almost uninhabitable, the remaining humans have splintered into rivaling factions, and the planet has been invaded by aliens set on claiming the planet for themselves. The player controls a member of the Resistance, who is physically wired into the faction's remaining hardware, creating a factory/floating battleship known as a Host Station. The ultimate goal is to fight from the Resistance's territory, Great Britain, towards the East, where the Mykonian "Parasite Machine" drains energy from the Earth's core, accelerating the deterioration of the planet and attracting even more aliens, the biological Sulgogars. Each mission is equivalent to attacking a region. Completion of each mission requires capturing key sectors and advancing on the next region, but often the implied objective is the destruction of all hostile host stations in each region.


While the player can construct units, as in any Real-Time Strategy, the player can take control of any constructed unit at any point, granting it improved shielding and weapons in the process. These vehicles are always controlled from a first person view, hence possessing the First Person Shooter element.

There were originally plans to release a expansion pack named Metropolis Dawn, allowing the player to take the role of either the Ghorkovs or the Taerkastens (Existing game data seems to point out that a campaign for the Mykonians was in the plans too). Poor game sales prevented it getting an official release.

Tropes present in this work include:

  • After the End
  • Aliens Are Bastards: The Mykonians and Sulgogars as described in the mission briefings.
    • The Mykonians treats humans as pests of planet earth, and seeks to absorb the earth of its energies. The original campaign's storyline kind of treats them as the Big Bad.
    • The Sulgogars eats humans, and the Resistance mission briefings implies that they are sadistic towards their food (That is, the humans).
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  • Arbitrary Headcount Limit: Surprisingly averted. Build units until the game almost crashes if you want.
  • Artificial Stupidity: Many, not surprising considering the age of the game.
    • Your drones are sadly incompetent in many circumstances. The weaker ones will generally die before firing off a shot unless you're piloting them. And good luck with getting them to traverse the maze of buildings leading to the enemy base. The good news is, the clumsy path-finding works both ways, so enjoy obliterating the Mykonians while they get caught on the sides of skyscrapers.
    • Inactive AI-controlled drones will lock on and engage an enemy only if the said enemy is one sector away or closer (The criteria for enemy detection). The implication is that all AI-controlled vehicles are close range combatants. The upside is that the dumb AI can be outwitted this way via a "sniper" attack. The downside is this method will only work if the human player is in direct control of a long-range attacker - For example, an AI-controlled Rhino will usually get slaughtered before firing a shot because it would stupidly go within the firing range of the enemy.
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    • The enemy host stations will sometimes move to a target destination (Either to evacuate to another base, or to build a radar station). What the programmers of the game did not account for is that the pathway to the destination may have units waiting to ambush any incoming enemies......
    • Once a flak station is destroyed in a particular sector, the enemy host station will not rebuild it on the same sector, instead often choosing an adjacent sector to rebuild it. If the player kept wrecking the enemy's flak stations, the enemy host station will eventually run out of sectors to build its flak stations on, assuming it still has enough energy.
    • In some missions, the enemy host stations are programmed not to move at all, and at the same time lack the ability to create their own power source. This presents an easy opportunity for the player to cripple them by simply destroying their power sources. This weakness is recommended for exploitation in the Hamburger Hill mission of the original campaign, which is otherwise frustratingly difficult to simply just defend.
      • AI controlled units, up to and including Host Stations, will fire on the first enemy that enters their detection range until it is destroyed, leaving it to ignore other units that are currently a bigger threat. This is one of the major things that gives the player an edge, as a human-controlled drone can quickly focus on a more important target, or alternate shots between approaching enemies.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Host Stations are piloted by commanders, and are the strongest units on the field. Also, any vehicle the player takes control of gains improvements in attack power and shielding.
  • Awesome, but Impractical:
    • The Taerkasten Bomber Zeppelin. It has the most powerful bomb in the game, is the most durable vehicle in the game (It takes multiple hits from a non-upgraded Resistance Rhino to kill it at full-health), and peels back the fog of war better than a regular scout vehicle does. However, it is also one of the slowest air units, so slow that some heavy tanks - a vehicle class the Zeppelin is designed to defeat, actually outspeed it. It is also too slow, too big, and too expensive to play the role of an exploring scout. They are really only somewhat useful as predeployed units.
    • The Taerkasten Thor's Hammer, a heavy tank only available in the unreleased Metropolis Dawn expansion. It is the equivalent of the Resistance Rhino, but with much heavier armor and a faster weapon reload rate (Both positives). Negatives? Everything else. Too slow to attack a host station, weaker firepower, and shorter range of projectile - Which is taking away everything that a Rhino clone needs to differentiate itself from other ground units. It is also a bit too expensive to take the role of an anti-tank ground unit, something which Leonid tanks would be more cost-efficient at.
  • A Winner Is You: Partly due to the trope Gameplay and Story Segregation, completing the game doesn't result in any new revelation or solid conclusion in the story line. Upon completion of the original campaign, a short video was played congratulating the player for destroying the parasite.
  • Black and Gray Morality: The Mykonians, Sulgogars, and the Black Sect were consistently portrayed as the bad guys, while for the terran factions Resistance, Ghorkovs and Taerkastens it was somewhat ambiguous. Depending on which campaign you are playing (Resistance, Ghorkovs or Taerkastens), the terran faction you are playing for will demonize the other two terran factions.
  • Blown Across the Room: It's a major gameplay mechanic, no less. The main advantage of anti-air units is that they knock back aircraft with each impact. This stops them from reaching their original target, and makes them easier prey for vehicles with slower weapons.
  • Call-Back: In the unreleased Metropolis Dawn expansion, there is a mission named Dejavu in the Taerkasten campaign, that allows you to revisit the region from Pedestal Mountain of the original Resistance campaign.
  • Cast from Hit Points: Vehicles are made of energy, which is used up when they fire. However, the process is so slow that units are rarely lost in this fashion.
  • Close-Range Combatant:
    • All AI-controlled drones rely on close range combat, due to how the AI is programmed.
    • The human-controlled Resistance Rock Sled. When the player choose to set off its explosives, it creates a sector wide of destruction.
    • The Resistance Dragonfly, Myko X01 Quadda, and the Ghorkovian Gigant had extreme damage output per second, exceeding the Rhino. The player needs to steer it near the enemy though.
    • The Black Sect flak station had a noticeably short attack range, but reloads quickly and hits hard.
  • Confusion Fu: The player can attempt to use this tactic on the stupid AI-controlled enemies.
    • Create a swarm of either Fireflies (If you are the Resistance) or Yings (If you are the Ghorkovs), and let them harrass an enemy host station. While the enemy is occupied with taking down these chaff, you can proceed with your intended plans (Destroy power stations / Attack enemy host stations).
  • Crippling Overspecialization: The worst hit are heavy tanks and bombers. Most heavy tanks are so slow to maneuver that a single well-controlled helicopter can dismantle an entire formation. Bombers are specialized for attacking tanks and aren't effective against anything else. Also averted in some cases, such as when the AI defeats your choppers with bombers by flying above them.
    • From a faction-perspective, the Sulgogars fall into this category. They have the most powerful units in the game, but they had very little variety (A grand total of 4 different air units to choose from) and they can't create their own power source, hence making them the least versatile faction.
    • The Resistance Rhino is a good example. It is pretty useless outside of destroying enemy host stations - Which still requires the player to take direct control of to use effectively.
    • The Resistance Rock Sled is only usable if the player takes direct control of. Its sole purpose is that of a suicide bomber, capable of a sector-wide destructive wave.
  • Ditto Fighter:
    • The most versatile and arguably the most dangerous faction is the Black Sect. In every mission that the Black Sect appears in, it can create selected units from the factions that are in the particular region, including that of the player's faction. Making it worse for the player is that the Black Sect cannot be seen on the map, hence the player's Real Time Strategy skills will be greatly hampered.
  • Easy Logistics: Your vehicles create their ammo from their reserved energy stores. The host station creates said vehicles the same way. Thus, the only thing that matters is having enough energy.
  • Electronic Speech Impediment
    "Mission failed. Host...station...destroyed."
  • Fake Ultimate Mook: When the Taerkasten Zeppelin is deployed as an anti-tank attacker. Unlike other examples of this trope, its reputation does match its capability - Namely that it **IS** the toughest vehicle to destroy in the entire game and that its weapon has among the highest destructive potential. However, it is so slow that a squad of anti-air vehicles can be deployed to run circles around it, and will often wear it down over time before it can wipe out its attackers.
  • Elite Mook:
    • Mykonians had their X01 Quadda, effective at destroying host stations but also a threat to Helicopters and to a lesser extent, planes.
    • Sulgogars had the Slime Lord, which is the more powerful counterpart of the Mykonian X01 Quadda.
  • Fragile Speedster: Most of the air units fall under this. Learn to dodge enemy fire, because they can't take a hit. Oddly enough, this also applies to several tanks.
    • Many Mykonian units fall into this category. The Myko Air Stick is one of fastest planes in the game, but has one of the worst shielding too. The same applies for the Myko Bomber.
    • Taerkasten Serp is a suicide air unit with weak shielding. It is also small, fast and hence hard to hit.
  • Gameplay and Story Segregation: Lots of, in both the original campaign and the unreleased Metropolis Dawn expansion.
    • The mission briefings talks about humans living in the war zone area. There are no humans seen in the actual gameplay.
    • The mission briefings sometimes asks you to destroy certain buildings/objects (key sectors). This often translates to you as the player simply capturing them as key sectors so as to be able to complete the mission. There is actually no strict need to destroy anything within the key sectors.
    • The Parasite machine (Which made an appearance in both the original campaign and the unreleased Ghorkov campaign) plays a big role in the story, where you are requested to destroy it. In actual gameplay it only means that you need to take control of a Stoudson bomb before its countdown reaches 0, hence eliminating you and all other enemies in the region.
    • What you did in each mission has very little bearing on what happens in the next mission despite what the mission briefings says, with the exception of the tech upgrades you captured and the selection of armies you choose to bring with you via the beam gate. And even those are only meant to help you during the game-play itself.
      • In the original campaign, you can, for instance, complete the final level (Parasite City) before eliminating all your enemies in other levels. This is despite all the talk in the mission briefings regarding the enemy factions bringing in all their "remaining forces" for a final confrontation at Parasite City.
      • In a specific instance, the mission Dark Zone requests for you to bring in any surviving Gigants (Which were stolen for your purpose) over to the next mission. Whether you do it or not is of no consequence to the storyline.
  • Glass Cannon: The Resistance Rhino, Rock Sled, and also the Taerkasten Bronsteijn. Low shielding, but if they hit their targets, they will do impressive amounts of damage. The Bronsteijn can heavily damage a single unit. The Rock Sled is a fragile suicide unit built to destroy squads of tanks or enemy host stations. The Rhino is also meant for destroying enemy host stations with its long-ranged rocket attacks, and its rocket can one-hit-kill almost any vehicle that isn't a host station.
    • The Black Sect Flak Station's cannons hit hard with a fast reload rate. Counterbalancing this is the fact that it has even lower durability than the Mykonian Flak Station.
    • From a faction-perspective, the Mykonians fall into this category. An attack squad of Myko X01 Quaddas is capable of obliterating a full-health Resistance Host Station in seconds.
    • The Sulgogars faction somewhat fulfills this criteria too. The Sulgogars had the most powerful weapons in the game, but they are easily defeated with anti-air tanks and they cannot create their own power source, making them easy to kill if you are using the right tactics and units.
  • Hold the Line: There's a few missions where the objective is to control all the Stoudson bomb trigger points until it detonates. The Hamburger Hill mission has you hold a hill against 5 Host Stations until the timer runs out. For an added challenge, go on offense.
    • Alternatively, the Hamburger Hill mission can be perceived to be one of maintaining a balance between offense and defense. It can get extremely difficult if you are only focusing on defending yourself and stoudson triggers (Its practically 5 host stations' worth of armies plus pre-deployed troops versus yours). However, if you chose to cripple some or all of the host stations' power sources, the enemy's army-generating capability will be reduced.
    • The mission Stoudson's Bastion of the Taerkasten Campaign (Unreleased Metropolis Dawn expansion) plays out similarly as that of Hamburger Hill. The sole Taerkasten Flying Fortress must survive the combined might of three Resistance Host Stations. Except that its also possible to win relatively quickly via a Hetzel Zerg Rush attack if given enough time and energy to create a swarm of them.
  • It's Up to You: No, really. You're piloting the last Host Station the Resistance has. So you'll be conquering an entire landmass single-handedly.
  • Jack-of-All-Stats:
    • The Resistance faction had the most variety of units to choose from (Besides the Black Sect), it has a mix of both heavily-armored and lightly-armored units. It has a good range of tanks, helicopters, and planes, which with the player's guidance, can even be used outside of their intended specialization. When all units for the Resistance are unlocked, the player will usually be able to find a suitable unit to use for any particular task at hand.
  • Keystone Army: Destroying an enemy host station would automatically destroy all the vehicles it created. If the enemy host station is the only host station of an enemy faction left in the region, all the territories belonging to this enemy faction will be given to the faction that destroyed it.
  • La Résistance: The Resistance, of course.
  • Lightning Bruiser: A handful of aircraft fall under this, combining impressive firepower with the ability to cross the battlefield in the span of a few seconds.
    • Of note is the Taerkasten's fast plane Phantom, heavy armor, strong weaponry and still possess above average speeds. However, it is still slower when comparing with other fast planes.
    • The Mykonians' X01 Quadda and Sulgogars' Slime Lord roughly fulfills this criteria. Both are anti-host station air units with powerful weaponry, medium speeds and medium durability, but due to their versatility (They can be used to fight other air units too), they are the most feared units of their respective factions.
  • Long-Range Fighter:
    • The human-controlled Resistance Rhino is the best example of this trope in the game. Its rockets can travel several sectors. This means that the Rhino can snipe an enemy while the latter is unable to directly attack it from that long distance.
  • Master of All: Some units are in this category when directly controlled by the human player.
    • In particular the Resistance heavy helicopter Dragonfly, when controlled by the human player, can obliterate squads of heavy tanks, destroy enemy host stations, take on other helicopters, or even fast planes if the player is particularly good at First Person Shooter skills.
    • The Black Sect is able to create selected units from the factions that are in the particular region, including that of the player's faction.
  • Mighty Glacier:
    • From a faction-perspective, the Taerkastens fall into this category. Worst of all is the Taerkasten Leonid tank, which hits hard and is also capable of absorbing massive amounts of punishment before going down. It also moves like a snail. In the unreleased Metropolis Dawn campaign, where you get to play as the Taerkastens, a fully upgraded Leonid at full-health is even capable of surviving a non-upgraded shot from the Resistance Rhino.
    • Host Stations-wise, the Black Sect Host Station has the 2nd highest shielding, next to the Resistance Host Station. However, the Black Sect Host Station has superior weaponry.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • A player in the original Resistance campaign would likely experience a huge difficulty spike in the middle of the campaign due to a combination of a lack of the means to create a good power source and the lack of powerful units required for smooth completion. "Moonlight City" (Getting the Dragonfly helicopter) and "Wide Field" (Getting the Falcon and Power Station 1+) are amongst the most important missions to complete in order to overcome the steep difficulty curve.
    • The Ghorkov campaign of the unreleased Metropolis Dawn expansion has a higher difficulty level than the original Resistance campaign due to the disadvantage of the early units that the Ghorkovs had against the Resistance and Mykonians.
  • No Recycling: Destroyed vehicles leave an energy residue. Driving through it adds a small amount of energy to the Host Station's reserves, and heals the unit itself.
  • Reinventing the Wheel: Thankfully averted. All research upgrades stay with you for the entire game. This was intended, as the player obtains more powerful schematics as they travel to the east to counter more powerful enemies.
  • Ridiculously Fast Construction: The player can build a power plant, or a tank battalion, in seconds. Eventually, the player can combine this with high-output power stations and build a tank battalion every 10 seconds.
  • "Risk"-Style Map
  • Starting Units: Sometimes, they'll merely be units you haven't unlocked yet. One mission however includes 3 captured and refitted enemy Gigants. Once they are lost, they're gone. Also of note are the Bronsteijn Flying Ion Cannons, which can only be built in 1 stage.
  • Self-Imposed Challenge: On missions involving the Stoudson Bomb, some players will instead opt to destroy the enemy the old-fashioned way. This is not a completely fruitless endeavor, because direct destruction of an enemy host station grants more space for the player's troops to bring over for the next mission.
  • Shoot the Medic First: The "medic" in this game are the power stations, which recharges the friendly Host Stations and vehicles to ensure they have enough energy to both survive and create more units (For the case of the Host Station). In missions where the enemy host stations can't create power stations, the strategy of destroying power stations can be effectively used.
  • Stone Wall:
    • Host Stations, at full power, take several hits from the most powerful vehicles in the game to fall. Their weapons systems are not nearly as impressive, serving more as a last line of defense. They are generally capable of engaging multiple targets though.
    • Most Flak Stations count too. Their attacks actually range from laughable (The Resistance model) to fairly powerful (Mykonian and Black Sect variants), but their main advantage is being hard to destroy, and almost impossible for planes to even damage, because each shell knocks them further away.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: It's either this or Artificial Brilliance, but I'm guessing that killing air units with bombers wasn't intended by the programmers. They'll generally find any flaws in the Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors scheme and exploit them mercilessly.
    • Partly due to the way the game is programmed, the Black Sect cannot be seen by the player on the map (The Real Time Strategy aspect of the game) but the other enemy factions are capable of "seeing" them.
    • Inverted with the player at times. Although the player's host station is immobile, it is capable of teleporting, which is a huge advantage compared to the enemy host stations which can only move. Hence a standard hit-and-run tactic is to capture a power station that is near an enemy host station, teleport your own host station (Teleporting to a power station that belongs to you costs zero energy) to that power station, create some anti-host station units to destroy the enemy, and quickly teleport back to your own base for safety.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: In the unreleased Metropolis Dawn expansion pack, the Resistance was portrayed as an arch-enemy for the Ghorkovs and the Taerkastens in many of the missions, displacing the Mykonians in that role. The Ghorkovs had further painted the Resistance as evil and brutal in robbing people of their humanity by connecting them to host stations and become their controllers, which wasn't completely untrue even if we think that the Ghorkovs were just villifying their enemies.
  • We Do the Impossible: Most of the late-game mission briefings tell you outright that it's a suicide mission. But you're the only one left, so you don't get any choice in the matter.
  • Zerg Rush: Considering there's no unit cap, energy is ultimately unlimited, and defeating the enemy with convential tactics can be tricky, this strategy is used a great deal. By the player and the computer.
    • Partly averted with Multiplayer, where there do exist a unit cap.