A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this game.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this game is a solid strategy title for teens. Most of the violence -- which involves lasers, guns, and explosive devices -- is seen from afar. Most of the enemies are robots, so you won't see any blood. While there's some swearing, the language is pretty mild, although that could change if you play online.
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What's it about?
UNIVERSE AT WAR: EARTH ASSAULT represents the latest real-time strategy title trying to break into the console market. While controls are pretty easy to pick up, the presentation and overall campaign are bland. You're cast in the middle of a major war on Earth in 2012. You get to control three factions: Novus, Heirarchy and Masari. Each group boasts a unique set of capabilities which prove advantageous on the battlefield. The mechanical Novus, for example, can quickly travel to map points via an intricate Flow Network resembling power lines.
The control scheme is designed for simple use. On the Xbox 360, the A button serves as your main command button. The left analog stick moves the camera, while the right stick zooms. Using a map in the corner as your guide, you can briskly move throughout the landscape by moving the camera while holding the right trigger. Unit selection is easy as well. You can choose engineers, infantry, or other units individually or by group, each of which have their own specific sets of commands. A unique strategic wrinkle is the inclusion of Heroes, an elite unit with high-powered strikes. But if they perish, you lose the battle.
Is it any good?
Battles often begin with your building a command center, an infrastructure for harvesting energy and military construction. Once you built your armada, you can move ahead with your missions. Most levels presented little challenge. Often, you can zip through your objectives with little military resistance from the enemy. Landscapes look bland, while the impact of major explosions or attacks on terrain is barely noticeable. Overall, action looked choppy. Characters and vehicles stutter across environments.
Universe at War does offer some intriguing multiplayer options, including a Conquer the World option which focuses on battling online foes for territory. But despite the solid use of console controls, too many hang-ups prevent this from becoming a must-have console RTS.