Planetary Annihilation is a real-time strategy game set in a science fiction universe. Take control of a robotic commander and build a colossal army to defeat your foes on every planet in the galaxy.
|Publisher: Uber Entertainment
Type: MMO RTS
Release Date: September 5, 2014
Pros: +Cartoonish art style. +Innumerable units on screen. +Picture in Picture mode.
Cons: -Tutorial lacking. -Known bugs. -Steep learning curve.
Planetary Annihilation Overview
Planetary Annihilation is an RTS developed by Uber Entertainment and is the spiritual successor to Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander. Players fight on spherical three-dimensional maps including planets, asteroids, and moons. Start with a commander unit and construct your army by fabricating buildings and collecting resources. Robots, vehicles, planes, ships, and orbital defense satellites are at your disposal to annihilate your enemy. Send hundreds of cartoonish units into battle in a game where the design goal was “a million” in-game units. Turn planets into weapons with immense laser cannons or hurl asteroids at enemy planets. Conquer entire systems or the galaxy in the single-player Galactic War Mode. Or engage enemies in Skirmish mode or online. Annihilate your enemies by destroying their commander or suffer defeat by not protecting your own.
Planetary Annihilation Key Features:
- Large Scale Battles – countless units on screen at once allow for large scale battles.
- Spherical Maps – allow players to play across multiple planets, adding strategic elements.
- Picture in Picture (PiP) – enables players to see two parts of the game at once and issue commands simultaneously.
- Planetary Weapons – hurtle satellites at your enemies to cause widespread devastation.
- Ground, Naval, Air, and Orbital Units – offer various ways of waging war.
Planetary Annihilation Screenshots
Planetary Annihilation Featured Video
Planetary Annihilation Review
By Sean Sullivan
My first immersive PC gaming experience—not sleeping for days—was Starcraft. Since then, I’ve looked for an RTS game that would invoke the exhilaration I felt when sending a fleet of Carriers to wipe out the Zerg. When I first learned about Planetary Annihilation, I was overcome with excitement. Watching videos and looking at screenshots of hundreds of units colliding on a suspended sphere was enough to sell me. There is something immensely satisfying in starting with a single unit and swiftly building an army to seize victory. Planetary Annihilation rekindled my love for the RTS genre.
Booting the game for the first time, I was confident that I didn't need a tutorial. After all, I played Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander. I know RTS games. I know the rules. This will be child's-play for a veteran. I started the game in Skirmish mode, or free play. Pitting myself against one enemy AI in a small solar system with only two planets. One was a volcanic infant and the other was a verdant water world. I elected to start surrounded by magma and discovered that the enemy commander chose to be my neighbor.
The Military Industrial Complex
Rather than focusing on micromanaging individual units, Planetary Annihilation emphasizes macro elements. Managing a huge economy and hundreds of units at once is at the core of Planetary Annihilation's war-torn gameplay. So you start off with your commander and the first task is to build Metal Extractors. Metal and Energy are the two resources that power your military industrial complex. You produce energy by building Energy Plants that can be built anywhere. If you don’t have enough of either, your rate of production drops dramatically until adequate resources are acquired. You can build units that construct facilities that can also assist in building units. So rather than send your commander out into the open space of the planet, send vehicles to build metal extractors. After all, the point of Planetary Annihilation is to amass an overwhelming army.
The word “awesome” is as overused as “plethora,” but the plethora of units on screen at once in this game is truly awesome. The effects of battle are a pleasure to watch in action. I bided my time, building an army with hundreds of tanks and rocket launchers. Who could stand against my battalion? I sent them off to battle, sitting smugly at my desk confident that my boys would bring home victory. They were turned to ash. It turned out that the AI was doing the same thing. He kicked my ass up and down the planet. My mistake was that I did not conquer the planet and played far too conservatively. Rapid expansion is pivotal to surviving and securing victory and brute force is necessary to defeat your enemy's army. When the enemy commander is hurt, curb-stomp him. Don’t give him a chance to stand up. Otherwise, he’s going to set up a teleporter and regroup on a neighboring planet.
The cartoonish, almost silly, art style is pleasing to the eyes. Watching my units swarm brings up warm nostalgia of smashing action figures in the battles of my childhood imagination. At first it was easily overwhelming. “I can’t manage this. It’s too much!” But the UI sets up plenty of shortcuts to help you take command properly.
Rather than offering a two-dimensional map, Planetary Annihilation conveys gigantic scale by presenting a three-dimensional environment in the form of spherical playing fields. Planets spin under your mouses control and units march past the horizon towards enemy bases. Solar systems can contain multiple worlds to conquer. Managing fights on two planets can be a daunting task. The Picture in Picture (PiP) mode makes it easier to keep track of two worlds at once.
Two-dimensional RTS games give a player a view of the entire war at once, but a spherical playing field obscures part of the game like a field-imposed fog of war. To compensate, the developers included Picture in Picture (PiP), giving the player a view of two areas at once. Beyond being a camera to look through, PiP is a duplicate of your main screen with all of the versatility available to you. Anything you can do on your larger screen you can do in the PiP screen—issue orders, build units, track scouts, etc. You can also view the opposite side of the planet you’re on to keep track of enemy movements, or your own. It's a workaround to prevent managerial crises evident in a three-dimensional RTS and it works well. It's not the only helpful UI element embedded in Planetary Annihilation either.
Tips and Tricks for Conquering the Universe
Sun Tzu once said “The supreme art of war is to subdue the enemy…” with a better user interface. The ancient maxim still holds true. Although the developers at Uber Entertainment failed to introduce their UI with any clear guidance, I’m here to share my enlightenment. Building on other RTS games, Planetary Annihilation offers area command and line building to make queuing commands more streamlined. You can designate an entire area and issue a command prompt. Want to build metal extractors on every extraction point on the planet? Select metal extractor and drag a circle out to whatever radius you want them to be built, enabling you to set up a planet-wide order.
Line building also saves time on issuing commands. By clicking and dragging a line of buildings instead of shift-clicking to queue an order, you can easily establish a wall of Energy Plants without worry. Area commands also make ordering the hundreds of units at once easy. If you want to load 300 tanks in a transporter, simply double click the transporter to select all of them, click the load command, and create a circle around the desired units. Also if you’re building hundreds of units in your factories but need one unit type immediately, control click to push it to the front of the queue. Keep in mind the game doesn't prompt you when you have an idle worker or factory. However, a notification bar in the bottom-left hand side will inform you that units are available.
One other thing. To move the galactic map around hold, left click and pull it. I had to look that one up—pretty embarrassing. My tips didn't help me back in Skirmish mode. I was quickly overwhelmed by the legions of units I had spawned and my vision could not adjust to the cornucopia. Recognizing my humiliating defeat at the ends of the enemy AI, I chose to enter the Galactic War—the campaign mode that introduces units and gameplay.
Story is simple. You and other commanders have reawakened with no sense of meaning or purpose in an expansive universe. Your only instruction is to annihilate, how suitable, the other commanders and control the galaxy. Somehow I’m lead to believe that the AI dictating the story is pitting commanders against each other like some bored god. You can choose what you want your Commander to look like. Browsing through the small assortment of commander skins I selected Invictus—it looked the most like a Gundam.
When you first start you have basic tech and nothing else. Jumping from one star system to another you recover tech to add to your arsenal. My first jump to Orelleana, home of the largest extra-solar communication systems, uncovered Bot Tech, the ability to build basic bots. Later on, you may find air tech or advanced orbital tech. Downloading the tech fills one of four available tech slots that minimize how many technologies you can accumulate. You can find additional slots by exploring star systems or sacrificing a technology in exchange for a discovered tech. Systems with red rings indicate an enemy commander. You’re then forced to fight for control of the solar system and the right to explore.
RTS games aren't normally meant to be modular and limited available technologies may seem strange. Nevertheless, Galactic mode introduces players to the game's mechanics and adds a level of strategy. You’re not overwhelmed by the abundance of technologies and you have to develop an approach towards utilizing your available resources.
Discovering basic and advanced orbital tech early I would rush an orbital launch pad as soon as possible. Then, I built anchors above my base and found the enemy base to build anchors over them. Anchors send down lasers towards whatever enemy is beneath them. As far as I can tell, they're meant as a defensive platform. But, “the best defense is a good offense.”
Conquer the Galaxy Together
If you find the task of commanding thousands of units overwhelming you can cooperate with a friend with a shared army. Both players can issue commands and share resources. It helps when you’re army is spread among more than two planets and new players can learn from the experience of veterans.
You can also conquer the galaxy together by going at each other's throats. PvP is brutal and I was decimated over and over again. There is no matchmaking system and not enough players to make one viable anyway. So you may end up with a Pro or a noober like myself. Unfortunately, the multiplayer is rather dead. During the time I played for this review I saw one or two games in the lobby.
Planetary Annihilation's biggest flaw is its lack of any tutorial. While Galactic War is set up to introduce players to limited tech, it’s a poor substitute. To enjoy the experience and learn the UI, you’re forced to look up commands and gameplay videos. Lacking clear guidance comes across as sheer laziness on the part of developers and serves as a focal point of much criticism. The game is truly great and an unparalleled experience but its legacy is tarnished by a lack of direction. It's a shame. Even the Player Guide from the main menu appears lazily written with sentences like “Keep your Commander alive or the match is over” as an introductory point.
Final Verdict - Great
When the game was first released it was greeted by negative press. Mainly due to the abysmal tutorial and ambiguous UI. Planetary Annihilation is a game that breaks traditional orthodoxy, hence why it was met with such controversy. It was bold and new and, unless you're Pillars of Eternity, it seems that Kickstarter backers are almost never happy. Even though I was forced to sift through Wikis and even watch a YouTube video, I had a blast. There’s nothing quite as satisfying as watching a maelstrom of robotic death across three planets. If you’re a fan of macromanagement RTS games then you’ll find something to love in Planetary Annihilation.
Planetary Annihilation Videos
Planetary Annihilation Links
Planetary Annihilation Official Site
Planetary Annihilation Wikipedia
Planetary Annihilation Steam Store
Planetary Annihilation Gamepedia [Database/Guides]
Planetary Annihilation Wikia [Database/Guides]
Planetary Annihilation Requirements
Operating System: Windows Vista SP2 64-bit
CPU: 32 or 64-bit Dual Core or better
RAM: 4 GB RAM
Video Card: Shader 3.0 / OpenGL 3.2 +
Hard Disk Space: 2 GB HD space
Operating System: Windows 7 64-bit
CPU: Quad Core
RAM: 8 GB RAM
Video Card: Dedicated Graphics Chip (Not Integrated) / OpenGL 3.2+
Hard Disk Space: 2 GB HD space
Planetary Annihilation is playable on Mac OS X and Linux
Planetary Annihilation Music
Planetary Annihilation Additional Information
Developer(s): Uber Entertainment
Publisher(s): Uber Entertainment
Producer(s): Marc Scattergood, Jeremy Ables
Lead Developer(s): Jon Mavor
Lead Artist(s): Steve Thompson
Voice Actor(s): John Patrick Lowrie
Composer(s): Howard Mostrom
Alpha Release: June 8, 2013
Steam Early Access: June 13, 2013
Closed Beta: September 26, 2013
Open Beta (Kickstarter Backers): November 19, 2013
Release Date: September 5, 2014
Kickstarter Launch Date: August 15, 2012
Kickstarter End Date: September 14, 2012
Other Platforms: Mac OS X and Linux
Development History / Background:
Planetary Annihilation was developed by American video game developers Uber Entertainment. The company is composed of many industry veterans who worked on games such as Total Annihilation, Supreme Commander, and Command and Conquer. Rather than seeking investors, Uber Entertainment sought crowdfunding through Kickstarter, with a funding goal of $900,000. By the campaign's conclusion, Planetary Annihilation had raised $2,228,00. It was the eleventh project to raise over a million dollars on Kickstarter.