'Genesis Rising - The Universal Crusade' PC game features vampire spaceships

May 15, 2007 (MARK STANISZ / CP) -- Thousands of years in the future, humanity finds itself embroiled in a universe at war and at odds with just about every sentient being in existence. Luckily, gamers in "Genesis Rising - The Universal Crusade" have 'organids,' bio-engineered ships that can suck the blood out of other organid ships and get special powers from them to power up humanity's forces. In short, we have vampire spaceships.

The visual quality of "Genesis Rising - The Universal Crusade," published by Toronto's DreamCatcher Interactive and developed by Belgrade's Metamorf Studios, is top-notch.

"Genesis Rising" (rated T for teen) is a sci-fi real-time strategy game where you harvest resources, build up your forces, expand and conquer your enemies.

The main resource is blood, which your ships suck out of enemy ship carcasses. Watching your ship extend a tongue-like proboscis and suck the blood out of an enemy ship you've just destroyed is strangely fascinating.

The gene upgrades you suck out of derelict vehicles also include things such as long-and short-range weapons, speed boosts and the ability to invade other ships.

Seeing your ships glide through space is a treat and the ships are simply amazing. The star-lit areas of ships have a shiny, alien look and the dark sides have a mysterious, ominous feel. The planets and gas formations all around you are inspired in their creativity.

But once you start playing the game, things take a turn for the worse.

I found myself aimlessly cruising around for something to do on several occasions - the objectives always seem to be sketchy, despite having the link at the bottom of the screen that brought up my goals.

Plus, space itself has never been so boring.

Gamers are presented with 2D fighting, much like a chess match. You can scroll around and see a top-down view or the underbelly of your ships but you can't actually attack from that vantage.

You might as well be fighting on a pond. It takes all the fun out of space flight.

Gamers can hit a button that places a grid in space which seems neat but all it does is remind you that you're really playing on a 2D field.

The interface could also use a major overhaul - it looks dated and features one of the poorest mini-maps ever in a RTS game, with a smattering of pixel-sized units that provide no meaningful function.

The bottom screen interface has order commands, unit abilities and information laid out in fairly standard RTS style but the crummy fonts and overall look are pedestrian and a step backwards for the genre.

Sound is also nothing special and the voice acting very stilted. In one scene a space pirate sounds like he's reading threats from a furniture assembly manual.

The blistering space explosions and the artistic ships - these are some of the best-looking alien vessels I've ever seen - are spectacular and the spiralling explosions with simulated screen shaking are awesome. Plus, you don't need a top-of-the-line gaming system to get most of these effects.

There's also a multiplayer mode but it didn't seem to have a whole lot of action on it. I logged on a few times and found nobody, although there is a table of gamer rankings.

"Genesis Rising" scores major points for visual quality and for introducing some innovative ideas. But it loses sight of the fact that the game has to be fun to play, ideas don't guarantee great games.

A sequel that spices up the interface, includes a more cohesive storyline and has some more exciting mission challenges would be welcome.

Fanged Films

From the Library

As the 20th century evolved, rational man turned to science to explain mythology that had pervaded for thousands of years. How could a man be mistaken for a vampire? How could someone appear to have been the victim of a vampire attack? Science, in time, came back with answers that may surprise you.Anemia
A million fancies strike you when you hear the name: Nosferatu!N O S F E R A T Udoes not die!What do you expect of the first showing of this great work?Aren't you afraid? - Men must die. But legend has it that a vampire, Nosferatu, 'der Untote' (the Undead), lives on men's blood! You want to see a symphony of horror? You may expect more. Be careful. Nosferatu is not just fun, not something to be taken lightly. Once more: beware.- Publicity for Nosferatu in the German magazine Buhne und Film, 1922  

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