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Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.6

Planets Under Attack
January 1, 2013 | Franklin Pride

Click to enlarge

Mission Under Way


Mac OS X: 10.6 |CPU: 2 GHz Intel | RAM: 512 MB | HD Space: 600 MB | Graphics:256 MB, (ATI): Radeon HD 2600 XT; (NVidia): GeForce 8800 GT


In the long list of things you want out of a game, one of the largest is that the game works. It shouldn't just start up and freeze, it shouldn't crash randomly, and it most certainly shouldn't black screen during boss battles. Unfortunately, Planets Under Attack black screens. During any major fight involving special effects, the screen will inevitably blank out leaving you with nothing but the numbers on planets you own or that are neutral. You can't see your ships, you can't see the enemy ships, you can't even see the enemy planets. So, with that in mind, it's time to find out how good this game really is.

It's pretty simplistic. It's the same old numbers game from the early ages of gaming, only with travel time and upgrades. You have a series of planets, each with a corresponding upgrade level, and you send troops from a planet you control to capture them. These troops regenerate at a speed determined by the levels of your planets. When the objective for the level is met or all enemies are dead, you win. You also have special planet types you can capture like those with guns to shoot spaceships out of the air, money planets that increase how many troops you can attack with over time, and a couple others. In the end, all you do is send troops to capture early, defend your troop generation advantage, and overwhelm the computer in the long term.

There are multiple groups you face with their own rules, though. They aren't particularly difficult in the end, but they do provide a little variety. One doesn't attack for a set time, then suddenly spawns hordes of ships from every planet of theirs you haven't captured. The solution for them is simple, of course. Upgrade fast, capture them one by one. When they swarm you, defend their target ferociously. Not too difficult. The other group simply has a different way to measure their fleet strength. The more troops they have, the stronger they get. This means, again, that early aggression will destroy them. In an even fight, your standard group wins pretty much every time.

Not that the campaign ever gives you an even fight. More often than not, you'll find yourself fighting an enemy armada that controls the majority of the level, while you have a planet or two. Given that it's the only real way to make the levels difficult, it's at least understandable. The levels might have provided more variety long-term if it was possible to pass the first boss battle. Every time that boss does its special effect, the screen goes completely black as mentioned above. That basically makes the rest of the game unplayable, so there's not much to talk about there.

On the graphics end, it does look reasonably good. Planets Under Attack is done in a rather simple cartoony style. It's easy to distinguish ships from different groups apart, and it tends to do a good job of giving the various talking sprites some character. The issues on the graphics end are all related to the bugs above. If you can't see any of the animated planets, special effects, moving ships, etc., then it's pretty obvious that the graphics go quickly from darn good to absolutely horrible.

On the plus side, you can still enjoy the music and sound when the bug goes off. The game has a reasonably good music score, and all the normal sounds for this sort of game are there. You've got your guns, explosions, whirling planets, boops, and so on. They're all pretty high-quality sounds overall. However, the game does tend to read all the text out loud. This can get quite annoying, as the voices aren't really that inspired. At least you can turn them off.

Overall, Planets Under Attack can be quite fun when it's working. There may have been a patch to fix the glaring bugs since this review was written, thus making it worthwhile to give it a try. However, at this point in time, Planets Under Attack is NOT worth it. Should your computer encounter the same issue, you'll be able to play for a few levels and then be completely blocked out of the campaign mode. If you manage to find anybody willing to play it against you, it may be fun for a bit longer. If you can't, this game is hardly worth the price.


Easy to learn
More complex than other clones


Breaks on first boss level
Simplistic computer AI

Franklin Pride is a game development graduate and professional programmer/consultant for the Unity development engine. He has recently launched a Kickstarter for his upcoming game "Chainsaw Ninja In Space."

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