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  • Pk's Game of the Month: Planetary Annihilation

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It's March already, and here's the Game of the Month: Planetary Annihilation, a fast-paced RTS that runs in the vein of Supreme Commander and Total Annihilation; take control over a vast arsenal of robot machinery, conquer whole planets with literally thousands of units and smash your foes with asteroids from space. Your own Armageddon – except for Bruce Willis.


The story behind PA is quickly explained: A self-replicating, sophisticated and sentient robot master race is built to fight for their creators. Over the centuries, the creators vanish, but the individual “tribes” under each commander still try to conquer the universe, and they use everything they find to do so.


The game has just left Beta and is now in the mysterious Gamma stage of development. What that is? Alpha and Beta fleshed out the game mechanics, built and improved the engine and added basic content. Gamma focuses mainly on the social aspects of gaming, adding better chats, groups, friend lists and overhauling the video replay and live broadcasting features via Twitch TV.


But what about the robot race and the slamming-asteroids-on-enemies bit, you might ask? We'll get there eventually.


First of all, there is only a multiplayer mode at this time, but bots with various difficulties let you train and practice the ways of the orbital warrior. A singleplayer campaign regarding the robots' origin and future might be implemented upon release, though.


In PA you start out with your single commander on a new planet. At the current stage of development, the game can only place starting points on a single planet, hence you are not alone. Enemy commanders will start out exactly like you do and they will eventually fight with you over the starting planet and its resources. These comprise mainly of building space, and metal. Everything is built with metal, which you need to mine with extractors. The second component that's vital for your survival is energy. You need energy to run nano assemblers, radars, portals and other things. Without any of these resources, the production and building process is severely slowed down.



Uber Studios have development a new way of resource gathering – you don't actually need to mine everything and then drag it to a central building; instead, you build the facilities and receive a constant stream of resources. Building structures and units draws from this budget, and sometimes the amount you gather is lower than that what you actually spend, leading to a depletion of your stored metal and energy and a crippled production.


And this happens easily with the huge range of buildings you can erect: Different Nano assemblers can build infantry, armoured vehicles, flying drones, marine craft and orbital vessels. Commanders can only assemble the first four factories, all Tier 1. With their individual building craft, Tier 2 factories – or simply advanced assemblers – are possible, along with an extensive list of other structures, such as orbital radars, nuclear missiles, advanced defense turrets and the orbital launcher. This assembler for orbital and interplanetary vehicles is the key to colonise and conquer other worlds. You can send drones to other celestial bodies to erect huge portals, suited to transport whole armies, build orbital fighters and point defense stations to block your foe's way off planet, radar stations to reveal their position, interplanetary ferries to move individual units between worlds, solar satellites to create energy in orbit and lots of other interesting things.


And the meteroid bit? Once you've landed a Tier 2 building vehicle on a smaller planet (or asteroid, but they are not implemented yet), you can build huge thrusters to move it into a collision course with the enemy planet. Such an impact devastates the whole planet, leaves a huge crater behind and destroys every unit on that celestial body. If you start the engines, however, there is no turning back. There is currently no way to stop such a planetary missile to rain on one's parade. All-out orbital warfare.



Another way to get rid of enemies from outer space are nuclear missiles; they can be used within an atmosphere just as well as from planet to planet, and a working defense against them is expensive and takes a long time to build. A nuke can obliterate a whole base and severely damage your commander. Two will kill him, leaving your troops without orders.

Killing all enemy commanders is currently the only way to win a round in PA. Some use the aforementioned nuke sniping, others start large-scale assaults while all are on the starting planet, through portals or landing parties, and there is of course always the meteroid way. But be cautious not to be too close to a dying commander – they explode in a blast with the force and radius of a nuclear bomb.


The game, despite being in development, is well-balanced and offers many different ways to adapt and succeed; there's something for every play style. Huge armies generate lots of action, and planet smashing will never get boring.


Its price is currently subject to change and fluctuates extremely. Wait for the next sale if you like, but its worth its price already.


Category: Games
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