Claret is not something you readily associate with spaceship games. Typically, a ship will get shot with particle torpedoes or some such, and it eventually blows up in a powdery puff of neutron jibber-jabbers. What you don't expect to see is the thousands of crew-members explode in a firework of entrails and haemoglobin.
In Genesis Rising you see just that. Well, at least blood and lots of it - enough to stir militant haemophiliacs to rage against the symbolic waste. Colour-blind gamers will frequently wonder why everything's gone green and were the game ever to be released in Germany in censored form, all the box would contain is a note of apology.
Why Genesis is so bloody is easily explained by the fact that all the ships, from fighters and harvesters to the motherships and stations, require the red stuff to run. It's a slightly silly premise, but a fun one. Ships are grown (built), they can mutate (be upgraded) and blood is the raw material used in all transactions thereof. Where the game deviates from RTS tradition is that blood can be sucked from freshly deceased vessels to heal your fleet. Clearly in the distant future, HIV is no longer a problem.
As unhinged and as incomprehensibly silly as the game might appear to sci-fi traditionalists, Genesis Rising is actually a very simple game to get to grips with. It's also rather sedate.
Unlike the swooping cinematics of Homeworld, the ships in Genesis tend to amble along and, when ready to fire, pretty much sit there and let rip with missiles, lasers and other generic ordinance. Battles play out almost like real-time card-game battles, because as an enemy ship raises a shield to counter projectiles, you must consciously switch to beams, change targets or raise some counter.
What's more, you can't tell what a ship will be packing all the time, as genes (fittings, essentially) can be switched between ships, even during battle. Each gene not only offers some special ability, bonus or weapon, but alters the appearance of the ships as well.
Tactically, the game lacks in being played across a 2D plane, and doesn't have the tense micro-management of a game like Nexus (which is brilliant - if you're a space fan, get a copy). However, it makes up for it with the adaptability of the ships themselves.
Obviously, Genesis Rising has a unique look about it, one you'll probably have made your mind up about already. If you like what you see on page, you won't be disappointed by what's on-screen. Watching a blood-sucking Resource Collector's sac fill up as it draws fluids from victims is strangely alluring.
Rarely though do the ships have any kind of animations on them, which they would have benefited from. The game isn't as static is it may seem though; CG cut-scenes and really rather good in-engine characters often pop up in the single-player campaign, offering various dialogue choices and chances for trade or aid. The developers certainly didn't skimp on the art budget - which may explain the recent worldwide shortage of red crayons.
Personally, I haven't enjoyed an RTS this much in a long time, not because it's spectacularly unique on a gameplay level, but because it has an aesthetic that's just so different from the pervasive goblin-WWII axis of RTS games. That Genesis Rising can lay serious claim to being the bloodiest game of all time is inconsequential.
- Those visuals
- Blood-sucking ships
- A storyline for atheists
- Adaptable organic units
- Perhaps not 'swoopy, weeeow dakka-dakka, take that Imperial scum' enough