Genesis Rising: The Universal Crusade Review

Genesis Rising has a cool look to it and some really good ideas, but, man, does it ever drop the ball when it comes to gameplay. Here we have a game with gorgeous and imaginative graphics that features bioengineered ships that can be customized on the fly by splicing in the genes for new systems and weapons. Sounds pretty cool, right? So why is it such a chore to play?

The first indication that something is not quite right with the game comes with the opening cutscenes. The game features a convoluted storyline set 3,000 years in the future. The gist of it is that after mankind began to colonize the stars all the other races ganged up on us. Only after rallying behind a great leader known as “The Savior” did mankind escape annihilation and turn the tide of the war, although The Savior paid for his efforts with his life. Now mankind is in search of a fabled artifact known as the Universal Heart that The Savior claims will give man the power to win the war once and for all. The fact that the hard to follow storyline is conveyed with some of the poorest voice acting I’ve heard in some time doesn’t help matters much, but not many strategy gamers play RTS games for their storylines. What really matters most is the gameplay, but unfortunately Genesis Rising doesn’t fare any better with that.

In concept Genesis Rising should have been an interesting and novel game to play. The ships in the game are bioengineered living organisms that can be completely customized by splicing in special genes. There are genes for long and short range weapons systems, shields, speed boosts, special abilities, and more. To add one of these upgrades to a ship, you simply drag the corresponding gene onto the ship and then watch as your ship “grows” the new system. You can also stack similar genes to create a more powerful version of the corresponding weapon or system. You can even harvest destroyed enemy ships for new genes to add to your collection. It’s a unique and powerful system that lets you create specialized ships from a very large pool of possible combinations. It’s just too bad that it’s such a pain to play with these ships.