Universe at War: Earth Assault is a real-time strategy game originally to be named Invasion: Earth, developed by Petroglyph and published by Sega. Universe at War: Earth Assault, is intended to be the first game in a planned series of games to be called the Universe at War series
Gameplay is split between three modes, two of which are further divided into different game types.
The first mode is single player. These are games that are played exclusively by one human player against AI controlled opponents. This mode contains the campaign and scenario game types. In Campaign, the player controls one of the four factions, depending on which part of campaign is being played, and plays through various battles, accomplishing predetermined objectives to progress along the storyline and eventually "beat" the game. Scenario mode gives the player a choice of one of the three main factions(Novus, the Hierarchy or the Masari) and then allows the player to choose a global situation and then take over the world. This mode is split between global strategy, which involves attacking neutral or enemy territories, constructing global structures and collecting resources; and tactical combat, in which the player must attack an enemy in an occupied territory in order to gain control of it, or defend one of their territories from an attempted invasion.
The second mode is the standard RTS skirmish mode. The player is given the option of playing against up to three opponents on the Xbox 360 or seven opponents on the PC. These opponents can be either AI controlled, or human controlled over an internet connection. The players are each given a base and a construction unit and must build up their forces to achieve domination of the chosen game map.
The game has a total of three factions, each faction has unique play elements but share the basic RTS format. Each Faction has a total of 3 "hero" units. These units fall into the classes of "Assault", "Tactical", and "Stealth".
The Hierarchy is an alien faction with a history of invading other planets in the universe, and has landed on Earth with the intent to strip-mine the entire planet of valuable resources. The Hierarchy does not consider resources to be only minerals but also organic life, including human life. By employing highly customizable walkers which are dropped onto any location of the planet's surface from space, the Hierarchy has a huge technological advantage over the human race.
- Kamal Re'x the Abductor— Under-seer of Hierarchy remote mining operations and leader of the invasion on Earth, he is ruthless in his pursuit of personal advancement. Kamal Re'x is a powerful psychic, capable of blasting ground units and sending infantry flying, abducting units for resources, and projecting psychic walls that block movement and attacks.
- Orlok the Eternal—A veteran Hierarchy commander. After being mortally wounded in a particularly tough Hierarchy conquest, Hierarchy Overseers burned Orlok's consciousness into an armored attack platform that can call down extra armor or weaponry at will. Orlok can also gather resources on the fly, using them as ammunition for long-range siege guns.
- Nufai the Skinwalker—Faced with Hierarchy conquest, Nufai betrayed his race to save his own skin. Nufai possesses disruptive combat abilities: he is able to cut through almost anything with his phase claws, sow paranoia among enemy troops (causing them to fight one another), and force enemy air units out of the sky for a short period of time.
Novus are a race of sentient machines existing only to destroy the Hierarchy. Their creators were wiped out by the mighty machines of war that their nemesis possessed and the only thing left of them were a few machines scattered across the galaxy.
"Novus" in Novus' native language translates to “the children of” and “those that follow.” The Founder, an original Novus, upon his return from a deep space scouting mission, found his home destroyed and the species that once inhabited the place wiped out. His rage and agony produced what is now known as Novus, a race bent on revenge.
- The Founder— One of the original machines from the Hierarchy invasion, his mission is to avenge the deaths of his creators and other races the Hierarchy destroyed. He has since become the leader of Novus. In battle, the Founder can enter either Performance or Prowess mode. Performance mode allows him to move and attack quickly; while stationary, he can become a node for the Flow Network. In Prowess mode, he is slower, but he takes less damage and hits harder. Furthermore, at some cost to his own health, he can animate any remains around him (be them enemy units or friendly units) and turn them into Ohm bots.
- Mirabel and Viktor—Mirabel is a clone of the last surviving member of the race that created Novus. In order to permit Mirabel to assist the Founder in his crusade against the Hierarchy, Novus constructed Viktor, a powerful semi-sentient suit of powered armor, to aid Mirabel in battle. In battle, Mirabel and Viktor wield a pulse rifle and shoulder-mounted missile pods. Though relatively weak in its standard mode, the pulse rifle fires very quickly and can be charged up to engage heavily armored targets at long range. Mirabel/Viktor can also launch a missile barrage at ground targets in "animesque" fashion. She is adept at taking down Hierarchy walkers. When assigned a move order over long distances, Viktor's jetpack activates, allowing the unit to hover.
- Vertigo—Originally a software program designed for scouting and communication, Vertigo is installed in the chassis of a high-performance aircraft with twin railguns and a cloaking device. He can convert multiple Novus units to data and store them for transport, and he has the ability to take complete control of any enemy units infected by the Novus computer virus. Despite being a stealth aircraft, Vertigo can deal massive amount of damage to enemy units and walkers.
An ancient and advanced race that millennia ago became saviors of the Hierarchy, the Masari were betrayed by their charges and forced to flee to Earth. They began instructing mankind for their own inscrutable purposes, in the process inspiring many ancient cultures and mythologies until they went into stasis and their city-ship Atlatea sank under the waves.
The Masari resemble humans; the character Prince Zessus has a slight white hue and literal golden blond hair. Their building and units show Aztec, Egyptian, and Sumerian influence among others and are lavishly decorated.
- Queen Altea—Though she has no standard attack, Queen Altea is incredibly powerful: her magic, powered by the Masari ship Atlatea, can bend reality, reverse time to unmake surrounding units (incidentally refunding the enemy for their cost), disable enemy weapons systems, heal allied troops, protect them from status effects, and her most powerful ability is to stop enemy super weapons.
- Lord Charos—Lord Charos lives to serve Queen Altea and the Masari race as commander of the Masari military. When in Light Mode he can use Blaze of Glory to damage surrounding enemies; in Dark Mode he can use Dark Vortex to damage all nearby air and ground units. He can use Frenzy in both modes, which temporarily increases his damage, attack speed, and defense.
- Prince Zessus—Due to his affinity for both Light and Dark, Prince Zessus is a versatile hero: he can blind enemy units, increase Masari regeneration rates, cause explosive effects that damage all surrounding units, and create map-wide darkness. Zessus can also tap into the matter engines of the Atlatea to teleport himself, friendly troops, and any superweapons at will.
Humans are not a proper faction unto themselves, but they are still the side used in the tutorial and prologue portions of the game. They also occasionally assist the player during the Novus and Masari campaigns, and are enemies of the player during the Hierarchy campaign. While humans have a number of different units and are not helpless, they are hopelessly outmatched in firepower and technology, taking disproportionate casualties against even the weakest of enemies. Outside of the campaign, their role is similar to civilians in Star Wars: Empire At War (another game by Petroglyph). They have a Motor Pool, Infantry Barracks and an Airbase as unit production structures and were removed from taking a large part in the game because of balancing issues. Unlike other factions the human infantry come in squads but die faster than any other factions infantry.
Humans have two heroes, the minigun-wielding Colonel Moore, and a tank commander named Willard. Both heroes' names come from M18 films.
- General Randal Moore—A frontline United States Marine Corps colonel at the game's beginning, Moore is tasked with rescuing the President from the United States Capitol during the Hierarchy's initial assault. He accomplishes this (though the President is wounded) and is promoted to the rank of General. He then escorts the President's ambulance to Fort Lesley J. McNair, which is soon overwhelmed by the Hierarchy. Novus arrive and Moore, thinking they are more enemies, orders a retreat into the hills. Moore then begins a guerrilla war on the Hierarchy, and allies himself with Novus and the Masari. Moore uses a minigun which does more damage to enemies per each attack. He has two abilities: One is to throw a devastating grenade and the other is to heal himself with a medkit. Posts by the developers on their forums indicate that Moore is named after Colonel Hal Moore, who commanded the 7th Cavalry during the Battle of Ia Drang and was played by Mel Gibson in the film We Were Soldiers.
- Sergeant Willard—A retired tank commander, Willard volunteers to come back to the service when the Hierarchy attack. He commands an experimental triple-barreled tank, which is named Thumper . He helps Moore when he saves the President and later keeps an enemy walker away from them when they evacuate the President to Fort McNair, although this forces Willard into retreat. His retreat is covered by forces from McNair and he helps them in the battle at their fort. After Novus arrive, Moore orders a retreat into the hills and Willard is among those troops who are able to escape. Posts by the developers indicate that Willard was named after the Apocalypse Now character, Captain Benjamin L. Willard, who was played by Martin Sheen.
Universe at War: Earth Assault, begins in the year 2012 when an alien race known as the Hierarchy lands on Earth to strip-mine the planet. Before their landing, observatories and scientists on Earth gave warning of aliens but the human race, as a whole, is not able to organize a unified military front against the alien forces. Because the Hierarchy has vast military experience from invading and destroying other planets in the universe, the human race is not able to withstand their forces.
When Novus arrive on Earth, they expect humanity to be extinct and earth's surface strip-mined, in accordance with Hierarchy standard operating procedure. However, Novus found Earth mostly intact and the human military not yet entirely wiped out. Humanity owes its continued survival to the fact that Kamal Re'x the Abductor, the overseer in charge of the Hierarchy's Earth invasion, has held back the bulk of his forces to lure Novus into a trap. Kamal Re'x hopes to earn a promotion by wiping out the Novus expeditionary force. Novus arrives just in time to save Washington, DC, where the U.S. military made its last stand. Then they start establishing bases, using guerrilla tactics to harass the Hierarchy. Mirabel, a Novus lieutenant, tried to board a command ship, but the ship is scuttled once they learn she is on it. She manages to escape, however, and tells the Founder (the Novus leader) about Kamal's trap. In the end, Novus proves unable to stop the Hierarchy, suffering a major defeat when the command base on Earth is destroyed, along with the portal they intended to use to return to their planet. The Founder also dies, because the portal was at the verge of detonating and destroying both Earth and the Novus's base planet, so he sacrificed himself to save both worlds. Kamal feels that he's beaten Novus and orders the Hierarchy super weapon, The Purifier, which can destroy large areas of the planet in one blast, to be prepared to destroy the Earth.
However, while the Hierarchy commander Orlok was diverting Novus so The Purifier can be deployed, he unwittingly tripped an ancient alarm in the Egyptian pyramids, and the Masari, asleep beneath the Earth's oceans, begin to waken. Though the Masari mothership initially creates a signal that prevents the Purifier from being used, the Hierarchy bomb the ship, board it, and prepare to use the Purifer.
Orlok, who has been questioning Kamal's intentions prepares to separate with the others who follow him. Nufai, a spy working for Kamal, used to be part of a species that the Hierarchy has since eliminated. He tells Orlok that he would be happy to overthrow Kamal's regime, so Nufai is sent to secure the Purifier while Orlok tries to make an alliance with the Masari queen, but instead finds her son, Prince Zessus. The prince and his forces join Orlok as he tries to capture a communication center to contact the others who want to separate from the Hierarchy. But Kamal Re'x appears with a massive force of troops, and Orlok almost defeats him, but Nufai shows up and helps Kamal destroy Orlok, revealing that he was working for Kamal the entire time. Nufai is appointed commander and they begin to use the Purifier to destroy the Earth. Prince Zessus is captured but is freed by a soldier who managed to escape. They find more humans captured in other encampments and join forces with them.
Meanwhile, the Masari Queen is concerned about her son and the fate of the planet. The Masari are furious when they awoke only to find their enemy, the Hierarchy, present on Earth and their mothership destroyed. As such, the Masari have no allegiance and are prepared to destroy any and all of the other factions to reap revenge on those who destroyed their civilization and their adopted home. Then, Novus approaches the queen and offers another allegiance, which the queen accepts. The two armies then assault all the Hierarchy bases on Earth. When they arrive in South America, they find Zessus, who announces that he has befriended the humans. Finally, the combined armies of the Masari, Novus and the humans attack and destroy the Purifier. Kamal Re'x is outraged and attempts to destroy them by himself, which instantly fails.
The armies argue over what to do with him, with the humans and Novus wanting to kill him for the damage he caused to the galaxy and Earth. But the Masari queen says that death is not the answer. She then apparently gives Kamal the power of a god which he uses to destroy them all, at least in his eyes. The queen is revealed to have actually trapped Kamal inside his own mind where he visualizes someone conquering the galaxy, but is never able to accomplish it himself. He was locked in the prison of his own mind, forever.
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