Genesis Rising: The Universal Crusade Review
Genesis Rising: The Universal Crusade box art
System: PC Review Rating Legend
Dev: Metamorph Studios 1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid 4.0 - 4.4 = Great
Pub: Dreamcatcher Interactive 2.0 - 2.4 = Poor 4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
Release: March 20, 2007 2.5 - 2.9 = Average 5.0 = The Best
Players: 1-12 3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
ESRB Rating: Teen 3.5 - 3.9 = Good
Genesis Rising: The Universal Crusade is ahead of its time - it should have been much more refined before its release

by Cole Smith

Genesis Rising: The Universal Crusade is a game that suffers from some pretty devastating technical issues. Because it's a PC game, there is hope for it yet in terms of downloadable patches, but until such time I simply can't recommend it unless you enjoy torturing yourself. There are so many technical problems with this game that it should be studied in programming colleges as a lesson in what not to do.

Genesis Rising: The Universal Crusade screenshot

Putting these issues aside for a moment, it isn't much of a stretch to imagine just how enjoyable Genesis Rising: The Universal Crusade could be. It's got some nice touches that separate it from the glut of RTS games. It's not that the core gameplay differs so much from an average RTS game, it's just that it's presented in a unique way. It's an interesting premise and one that I wish I could explore without the crashing that often accompanies saving, loading and exiting. There are also some command, interface and sound issues, but as hard to ignore as they may be, they can be overlooked as far as gameplay is concerned. I'm confident that there will be a patch available soon so I didn't just abandon this game midstream. Keep it in mind for the future.

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While this game takes place in space, the use of biological ships, blood and genes, reminds me of the movie, Fantastic Voyage. In this classic movie a ship is reduced to the molecular level and the crew attempt to navigate their way through the human body to combat various diseases and save their pal. In this game you are the commander of a human squad that is invading the last known section of the galaxy. Piloting living vehicles, you are in search of the Universal Heart. The enemies that oppose you also employ similar biological vessels. You will have various ranged and close weapons that you can employ but once you're within range the only way to completely neutralize the enemy is to suck its lifeblood as if you were a vampire bat. While gaining energy from the blood feast, you will also acquire genes, which are carried by each ship. These genes vary from ship to ship and they can be used as salvage. Taken back to the lab, the genes can be transformed and turned into power-ups or upgrades that will give you access to more weapons such as rockets, lasers, warps, and protection in the form of force fields, shields and armor. How you configure your fleet is up to you. There are huge battle ships and smaller, agile, attack ships.

Genesis Rising: The Universal Crusade screenshot

Blood is the game's currency, and there's plenty of gross out moments for those that don't like the sight of it. You will not only need to rid your enemy of blood in order to conquer them, but you will need blood to power virtually every action that you take. Blood is needed to transform genes into power-ups. It's also needed to repair damaged ships, in addition to creating new ones. A sickening suckling sound will accompany the action of sucking the blood out of an enemy ship. At the same time, when a large ship is blown up, it will spew tons of the red stuff throughout space. It probably won't benefit the faint of heart to note that the graphics are nicely detailed and very colorful.

Commanding your fleet can be very frustrating. The pace of the game is fast but your fleet can be very slow to react. Often you will have to manually administer orders for them to avoid fire. These are orders that you shouldn't have to give. It's not like you're taking kindergartens on a field trip, this is supposed to be the universe's more powerful army. It's tough getting the fleet into formation as they tend to take the long way around instead of just going from point A to point B. What's more is that you are only fighting on a 2D plane. You can't move up or down to avoid incoming, you can only move left or right. As far as I recall, space used to be three-dimensional. But then again, this is the future. Who knows what us damn humans have done to the universe after we destroyed our own planet with global warming and poor TV programming.

Genesis Rising: The Universal Crusade screenshot

Pausing to issue commands would have been a welcome option but I guess the developers want to keep this as pure a RTS as possible. You can't save the game in mid-battle and most of the time you can't even save your game at the end without experiencing some kind of freeze up. Some of these maps can be quite long and you can take quite a beating in the second half. It just gets really frustrating having to complete the easier part over and over just so that you can get killed when your squad chokes on you again. I also experienced a complete loss of audio during some of the missions. Remember, in space, no one can hear you scream, "%#*& this!"

Many of these enemy ships resemble living insects and they are recreated to great effect in this game. They are truly disturbing looking, and while they just beg to be killed, the payoff can be particularly gross due to the bloodbath. The dialog is unimpressive, which is in contrast to the graphics, but definitely in keeping with the technical issues. The cutscenes are loaded with trite remarks that make Starship Trooper look intellectual.

Genesis Rising: The Universal Crusade screenshot

Although hampered by the same annoying technical problems, the multiplayer mode allows up to 12 players to duke it out. Although I only played with four other gamers, it was enough to demonstrate that should this game get fixed up with a patch, the multiplayer component would definitely be worth the price of admission alone.

By Cole Smith
CCC Senior Writer

Features

  • Genesis Rising is a space RTS that incorporates the best elements of role-playing games; immersing the player in a rich back story and drawing them into an epic crusade that they won't soon forget.
  • The non-linear single player campaign is comprised of over 30 branching missions that unfold as choices are made based on the actions that you take.
  • GameSpy Multiplayer featuring 12-player support and many multiplayer maps on which to flex your dominance!
  • A co-op mode in which two players can work together and control one fleet!
  • All of the 20+ gene-based Organid ships in the game can be customized with over 50 different weapons and abilities giving the player thousands of possible combinations to choose from when constructing a fleet.
  • As genes are inserted, ship models will morph in real-time to reflect the choices that you make!
  • Expand your genetic capabilities through the invasion of enemy vessels, steal unsuspecting technology and maximize your gene bank's diversity. Change genetic makeup on-the-fly and adjust your approach based on your enemy's fleet; recycling unused genes to meet any demand.
  • Resource gathering, technology upgrades, and combat are refined, making Genesis Rising accessible to even the most novice RTS players.
  • The universal resource in the game is Blood Air, which along with genes, can be harvested from the lifeless carcasses of Organid ships.
  • Many non-player character alien races share the vast emptiness of space with Humankind.
  • Make alliances with other races to secure their support and technology, or purge them completely and take whatever you want!

    2.3

    Overall Rating - Poor
    Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
    Rating out of 5
    Rating Description

    4.7

    Graphics
    Great looking graphics which are certain to impress and repel. Faint of heart need not apply.

    2.1

    Control
    Lots of control issues. Wait for a patch before you buy.

    2.6

    Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
    Good sound effects but the dialogue is awful. I lost the entire audio on numerous missions.

    3.0

    Play Value
    With a patch, the online multiplayer mode is where you'll spend most of your time.

  • Screenshots / Images
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