Interviews

Universe at War: Earth Assault

Interview: Petroglyph's Adam Isgreen on the entirely alien experience

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Isgreen: Our "Conquer the World" mode uses the globe like a persistent tracking system for your accomplishments. You progress through each territory and are matched up against people fighting for that same territory. Conquer it and you keep it. Lose the battle and you lose the territory too.

As you get better, the stakes go up. If you manage to conquer a globe, that's worth a certain rank and achievement and the globe can be reset. Or you can go for streaks in conquering the same territories, as the game tracks your progress in each individually.

There's a lot of bragging rights associated with multiple wins in individual territories, especially after you've ranked up a few times.

Achievement-wise, since the game is using Live Anywhere (XP and Vista), your achievements are tracked, and each unlocks a medal, which can give you a tactical benefit in multiplayer. Each player can have up to three medals in play at any one time.

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For example, the "bovine defender" medal the Hierarchy earns for the "collecting 300 cows achievement" will give you a +50% resource bonus for every cow collected if you use it in multiplay. There are 15 medals for each faction (they're not all the same, either), so there's lots of fun "tweaks" you can make on your multiplayer experience.

If you want to be a purist, you can turn them off in multiplayer and they're off by default in tournaments and DEFCON.

Presumably you're including the vanilla multiplayer types too - and what's DEFCON?

Isgreen: Yes. Multiplayer free-for-all and team-based play is supported - with or without AI - and with varying victory conditions. We've also got this great speed-game mode called DEFCON, where instead of researching any tech, there's a timer counting down each DEFCON level (starting at 5, descending to 1), which changes every few minutes.

Every player gets every tech available to them in the next tier each time DEFCON drops a level. After eight minutes everyone has every tech available to them, breaking the normal rule of only being able to choose 6 out of the total 12 suites of tech at any one time. Superweapons are active, and it's a madhouse of a game at that point.

I think it's ideal for tournaments and internet café play, where there aren't as many permutations to deal with and you can focus on some very aggressive and interesting strategies when you leverage the DEFCON countdown. Most games in DEFCON mode games we've played don't last past 12 minutes.

The subtitle (and main title) of the game of course suggests that the assault on Earth is by no means the end of the story - or series. Are you already kicking around ideas for follow-ups and, if so, anything you can tell us about storyline direction for those?

Isgreen: We certainly are. At this point, if you looked at the first Universe at War game as the initial chapter in an ongoing saga, there are at least two more chapters of material we've got fleshed out... and a whole bunch of directions we can go in after that.

I can't really speak in detail on any of it, but you're correct that the title doesn't just say "earth at war", does it?

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