Fun and gimmicky, but at its heart, lies an expansion worthy of its spiritual ancestor

Planetary Annihilation is a bit of a strange game. Possibly overhyped, it was riding the wave of strategy gaming resurgence with StarCraft 2, which also meant that it was crowded out somewhat by its competitor. But I think that hides what is really a more engaging game than Starcraft ever was.

Annihilation was backed by Kickstarter some years ago, promising a reimagining of that venerable old strategy game Total Annihilation. It promised fast paced action, unit variety and, of course, planetary destruction by using asteroids and moons to smash into things.

Ultimately though, there was something missing. It was not the unit variety, which was always balanced (because everyone had the same thing) or even the planet smashing fun that players could have. I think it was missing proper superweapons. They have finally arrived with the standalone expansion TITANS. The TITANS are basically what they say, enormous, moon sized units that are expensive and hard to kill.

There are other new units, including orbital battleships and the like are handy, as is the new Death Star like annihilaser, though most of the procedurally generated systems you see these on only contain a single planet.

The base game is still included, and for those of us who supported the Kickstarter, the expansion is yours with a generous discount (or even a freebie), depending on the stage you joined up. Otherwise, this is quite an expensive buy for those who bought at the retail stage, especially since Planetary Annihilation was pretty expensive to begin with.

The game’s main goal is to get you playing competitive multiplayer, and there are ranked leagues, just like Battle.net. Of course, the game is nowhere near as popular in tournaments, so you might still opt for Blizzard’s more varied offering, especially since Legacy of the Void is about to drop.

In terms of single player options, you have your usual AI skirmish matches and also a galactic conquest mode where you start of with basic techs and then gain more as you pummel enemy commanders into the ground. This mode is made much easier with additional AI sub-commanders that can assist you in battle.

Aspects that drag this game down? There are a couple. I do not like is the possibility of buying new Commanders. They do nothing different to the vanilla ones, but they each cost US$5. It is a bit rich, especially given the community’s already been quite generous. There is also the lack of a proper single player campaign, which many will not care about.

TITANS is a worthwhile expansion and is definitely worth the price of admission, especially if you have not picked up the original game. It is about half the price, and adds more content. If you are wanting to get into strategy gaming, this is a good place to start.

Rating

Good multiplayer focused strategy game, which is uniquely well balanced by each faction having the same units.

Play this if you…

Are sick of zergling rushes.

Don’t play this if you…

Are scared of artificial intelligences.

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