Genesis Rising PC Review - 04/09/2007

If organic, upgradeable armadas, gene harvesting, and large scale dog fights are enough to get your hyper-drives spinning, then look no further than Genesis Rising, a well made and thoroughly enjoyable RTS for the PC.

In the extensive single player campaign (with an impressive branching narrative) you begin life as a young, inexperienced commander of a ruthless human society which has become absorbed by its own arrogance. Total domination of the galaxy is what humans 3000 years from now are doing in Genesis Rising, with all other sentient life forms being viewed as an infestation that is "genetically inferior". Whether such species should be "purified" in the name of genetic perfection is therefore the over arching theme of the game.

The issue of a totalitarian regime presiding over less powerful societies has been thoroughly explored by many popular sci-fi television shows, but to see it so faithfully realised in an RTS title is refreshing and a noteworthy achievement by developer Metamorf.

You'll find that Genesis places a greater focus on the management of your mighty armada than on constructing a vast network of structures. The primary system of gameplay is based around the idea of harvesting, a unique idea that adds a new layer of depth to familiar space battles. Once an enemy ship has been disabled, you have the option of harvesting its genetic material (as every ship in the game is built with an organic, harvestable component). This is your main source of energy, and if you want to survive, harvesting the blood of your enemies has to be a top priority.

Once you've done this, your ships can be augmented with various DNA upgrades that grant you access to special weapons, and later, a wider choice of build options. The system itself is incredibly simple, often executed with just a couple of mouse clicks, but the results are always satisfying. There's even a "nice" blood explosion which slowly spreads across the screen to visually identify the destruction of a ship. All very atmospheric and creepy, and it makes your actions as one of many power hungry humans seem all the more despicable.

The above description represents the core gameplay experience offered by Genesis Rising, which is basically a simple yet incredibly intuitive system of harvesting genes, close quarter combat, and ultimately, galactic domination. Graphically, the game isn't going to stretch most PC owners' current hardware. There are some particularly nice ship designs and lighting effects, and when you zoon in close the level of detail is pleasing. But the environments themselves, while grand in scale, are unspectacular. There's nothing fundamentally wrong with the visuals, but some aspects of the game world are lacking, when compared to other RTS efforts.

The controls however are wonderfully well crafted. Controlling your fleet, managing your resources, and issuing commands remains easy and hassle free, no matter how far into the game you progress. And despite the simplistic nature of Genesis Rising, it is a challenging title. Although it may not be the most "in-depth" RTS on the market, you won't sail through the single player straight away. The multiplayer (which, from our brief experience, works well and is devoid of any noticeable technical troubles) certainly adds length to the overall experience. Given the very reasonable pricing of most PC games nowadays, Genesis is a fantastic package, offering a great deal in terms of gameplay hours and overall enjoyment.

As so many games (particularly grandiose RPG titles) are making use of Hollywood voice talent, it's always a pleasure to find a game, like Genesis, that manages to pick a wonderful voice cast of relatively "unknown" actors. Every character you encounter has a distinct personality that draws you in to the complicated (but not pretentious) universe that spans the course of the single player. Even the tutorial is guided by a character that at least carries some degree of relevance to the game itself.

The music on the other hand is something of a mixed bag, but fans of the genre will no doubt appreciate the spiritual nods to the soundtracks of popular sci-fi shows. Genesis also manages to deliver a wonderful assortment of futuristic weapon and starship sound effects that adds to the already immersing nature of the game. It's obvious that the developers never strived for groundbreaking technical accomplishments here, and it seems to have served the game well. While it's hardly lagging behind in terms of technology, Genesis is a classic example of solid gameplay over flashy visuals.

Genesis is a game that you simply won't be able to put down, and for this reason, we highly recommend it. The very nature of the story itself is enough to keep you coming back, as it doesn't try to overcomplicate things by making it more detailed than it needs to be.

The same can be said for the gameplay, which challenges your ability to manage combat situations rather than forcing you to consider all of your campaigns resources. For some of you, the lack of such control may be a bad thing, but nevertheless, we encourage you to give Genesis Rising a look. Easily one of the most enjoyable RTS games of recent times.

- Jon Titmuss



Dreamcatcher Int.
Metamorf Studios