Planetary Annihilaiton Review – Compelling Tactical Strategy Experience

by Maximus Smith

Planetary Annihilation, A sci-fi real time strategy game by UBER entertainment throws you into a galaxy of intense conflict, where your only objective is to annihilate the enemy commander by any means necessary. From launching barrages of nukes, to throwing planets at each other, the player is provided an abundance of methods by which to destroy, and kill their opponent.

The game heavily focuses on a tactical means of engagement, where the player must use all of their wits to manage their resources, and the battlefield. In each battle, the player begins their conquest by dropping from orbit onto a planet surface, where they are to construct many different structures, from factories to power generators. However, everything that the player chooses to fabricate costs metal, and power. These resources are obtained via metal extractors, and power generators, both of which can be destroyed by enemy forces. The player must use factories to construct combat, and fabber units both of which serve as vital contributors to every players war effort. Fabbers possess the ability to create a greater variety of structures. Advanced fabbers, whose construction derives from an advanced factory are granted a greater variety of buildings to construct, in addition to a titan associated with their unit type.

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The games scope of possibilities is unprecedented, due to a plethora of maps to choose from, in addition to the ability to construct maps. The multi- level terrain, and uniquely designed planets add another dimension of conflict and utilization of strategy to gameplay. This dimension of engagement is only enhanced with the abundance of different units. This abundance of units is separated into five different category of unit types, which are bots, vehicles, air, naval and orbital, in addition to the advanced forms of these units. Each unit type boasts different weapons, and methods by which they can engage the enemy in addition to several pros and cons. Each unit type has its associated factory types, which enable the player to create several variants of unit types.

Bots are usually relatively cheap units, which boast greater speed than vehicles, but are far outpaced by air units in both power consumption, and ability to traverse planet surfaces. However, (construction, otherwise known as fabber) bots have relatively low build power relative to vehicle and air fabbers. Vehicles are more costly and sluggish than both boys, and air units, but possess greater damage health, and build speed. Air units can serve as effective scouts, and can quickly relocate to deliver a payload of explosives, or fabricate a structure in remote, and or far away locations. Orbital units have the potential of providing ultimate scouting potential, as certain spacecraft can render over half of any given planet completely visible to the player. Orbital fabricators possess the ability to construct any variant of Titan, including the unique orbital helios Titan.

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In addition to the base game, the player has the option to purchase the Titan expansion, which adds twenty one units to the game, and the multi level terrain spoken about earlier were added to the game, including game changing Titans, which have the ability to completely turn the tide of any battle. There are six types of titans, each with properties associated with their corresponding unit type, all of which require much metal, and are vulnerable during construction. The aries fortress Titan can deal devastating long range blows to land based armies and bases with it’s mighty cannon armaments, but is quite vulnerable to air and orbital attacks. The Zeus lighting Titan can lay down armadas of fighters with it’s lighting attack, which can effectively annihilate entire armies lacking in anti air potential. The Atlas seismic Titan can generate earthquakes in an extraordinary radius around itself every five seconds, but is quite vulnerable to air and orbital attacks much like the aries. The helios titan can soak up damage with it’s massive health, and possesses the ability to teleport land based armies onto a planet surface if used with a teleportation gate. The last and most devastating Titan, the ragnarok is nothing but a stationary structure… which destroys a planet one minute after construction by nuking the planets core.

This game possess an intrinsic level of replayability which keeps the player coming back for another round. Each match, can take seven minutes to two hours, as each player races to find their opponents weaknesses while erasing their own. The learning curve the player faces allows for constant, and gradual improved performance as the player reflects on their implementation of strategy. In addition, the player can rewind each match to observe how crucial points in combat significantly altered the outcome of each match. The option to play a match from a certain point is also available when fighting against an AI which only furthers one’s ability to deliver deeper into the gameplay by discovering new vectors of attack not previously considered. One can easily tell by the presentation of the game, and it’s inclusion of statistical analysis to accurately gauge a players strengths, and weaknesses after each match that the developers gave much care to the overall theme of strategy in an unobtrusive, and efficient way.

However, even without this feature, the game would still be quite an enjoyable experience. Despite the complexity of the interface, which I still haven’t mastered despite my approximate 150 hours of gameplay, I have found that the essential portions of this interface can be traversed with ease. Newcomers to the genre may require additional experience with the game; experience which can be quickly obtained through additional interaction in the narrative campaign. The tutorial is very easy to follow, and gives the player an introduction to the essential parts of the interface. This is all the player needs to immediately jump into the narratively driven campaign, which is somewhat lacking in story. The AI the player faces throughout the campaign are given personality through in-depth, and quite humorous character descriptions, which are successful in making the player feel somewhat saddened over the death of their battle hardened opponent.

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After each match in the campaign, the player is given the option to explore the star they conquered in order to acquire technology, and upgrades for future battles, of which the character can only store a limited amount. The only narrative driving the campaign is the fact that one must do what they can to annihilate all other commanders and to build up their base. This however, is not sufficient to effectively drive the entire campaign if one is seeking a fully integrated, and ongoing story for someone looking for a complete campaign experience.

In conclusion, the game provides a grand sum of content for those who seek epic, and tactically driven gameplay, in addition to in-depth, and wonderfully complex strategic competition with AI, and other players around the globe. The game, however has a distinct lack of story, and could utilize a large degree of narration to render the campaign a truly sufficient experience. It is an acquired taste, with clean graphics and certainly would appeal to those who don’t mind taking time to learn, and refine their own craft. With it’s successful approach to strategy being it’s greatest strength, its lack of a well rounded, and polished experience being it’s primary drawbacks, especially considering the games relatively steep price for the content provided without the titans expansion, which only completed certain aspects of the game.

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