Review: Soldiers of the Universe (PC)

Developer: Rocwise Entertainment
Publisher: Rocwise Entertainment
Genre: First Person Shooter
Platform: PC
Rating: N/A
Price: $14.99

Soldiers of the Universe is a first person shooter created by an indie developer out of Turkey called Rockwise Entertainment. The story is based on actual events—a failed coup attempt that took place on July 15th, 2016. During this event, a faction of the Turkish rebel army sent tanks out into the streets and warplanes into the skies. 249 people died that day along with those who plotted against the Turkish government. Soldiers of the Universe has released only a little more than a year after those events took place, which means it is likely a passion project for the developers. Unfortunately, the intent and resulting product appear to be divergent.

Content Guide

Violence: Soldiers of the Universe is a military shooter; players will be using guns to kill enemy terrorists. There isn’t any blood to worry about—when enemies are shot, they drop down and sometimes say a final word as they are in pain and pass away. There are flammable barrels that can be blown up to subdue enemies as well, including the optional ability to use grenades.

Language/Crude Humor: There aren’t loads of dialogue in Soldiers of the Universe, yet enough for them to spit out a few curse words. One character uses the word sh*t once in the dialogue, while another throws out a “GD” somewhere later in the game.

Review

When taking on this review I thought, “I can knock out a linear FPS pretty easily.” In most cases I probably could, but Soldiers of the Universe is a unique case and not in a good way. What I thought was going to be an easy five-to-ten hour military shooter turned into a chore. Not only does it look absolutely rough, it also it plays rough. Call of Duty gets accused of being a glorified hallway with set pieces in which players just need to mow down enemies before progressing. Soldiers of the Universe is unfortunately all of that without the set pieces.

Enemies in each stage are specifically placed and don’t move much at all. You must take cover instantly while navigating through stages because any enemy will take you out in seconds. Health regenerates if you’re quick enough to make it, but this turns every gunfight into a long-range struggle. This is a problem for one particular reason: players only have access to two mid-range weapons and a pistol—there are no other weapons to pick up or grab from dead enemies. With no access to sniper rifles of any kind, the mid-range assault rifles have to suffice. Each gunfight boils down to a deadly game of “Whack a Mole”: whoever has the guts to take a peek from cover without firing is getting shot. The moment-to-moment gameplay feels a lot like a firing range that just happens to fire back.

There are even a few friendly A.I. characters to help the player out, except they don’t. 75% of the time they just stand there—sometimes right in front of an enemy—and watch you get shot. On some occasions, one of them will decide they want to be useful and take out an enemy as we are moving up for cover, but that small contribution is still not enough. The most useful guy on the team is the guy you run up to and push the “E” key for ammo. In one particular stage, there were instances where my guys wouldn’t even move up with me, including the guy who held my ammo. I know most A.I. companions in shooters are generally useless in the first place, but at least it doesn’t feel like they deliberately don’t want to help you. Either that, or maybe they’re trying to tell you in their own special way that this game is just not worth playing.

Much like the gameplay, the presentation is also very sub-par. The graphical fidelity itself ranges from a the look of a PS2 game all the way to current gen in some cases, what we have here is a mixed bag of three console generations that were shaken up into a muddy mess. In many cases I have seen inanimate objects look better than the overall environment itself. A dumpster and trash bag can look a whole lot better than a flat environment with blocky structures. For whatever its worth, I did appreciate the effort to include some fog and snow in some stages, and one mission taking place at night. The explosions from flammable objects also looked good as well. I just wish that more effort was put into the entire presentation.

There are times when the environment looks decent, but then there are times when it looks like this.

Soldiers of the Universe does have a story, but not very much of one. The cutscenes look about as good as the rest of the game does, so there’s no need to go any further there. The basic plot is that a secret agency has put together a group of elite soldiers(Rainbow Six anyone?) to put a stop to threat of terrorism that looks to overthrow the Turkish government. Your main character is the son of a soldier that was once a part of the agency—that’s the extent of any character development we get. The English voice acting is also cheesy and feels phoned-in. I failed to see if there was an option to play the game in the developers’ native language with subtitles, which would be  the way to go if the option is there.

I have bashed the game almost entirely at this point, but there were a couple times where I actually saw what this game could be. When things were working right, I would enter a decent flow of combat and take out one enemy after another. There were even a few tracks that played during some of these gunfights, and I found those to be pretty decent as well. The problem with Soldiers of the Universe is that it just isn’t finished it yet.

The developers did take it out of Steam’s Early Access in late November after putting it in the hands of the public only a few months prior in September. Soldiers of the Universe could have been something greater if it was kept baking in the oven for one more year. This review was definitely not easy to write, and not because just because the game is bad. Soldiers of the Universe is likely a passion project because of the topic it is based on is so close to home for Rockwise Entertainment. Sometimes when we sit down for a meal Mom likes to say “I made it with love.” Soldiers of the Universe does not feel like it was made with the love that it should have been.

At least the explosions look good.

Review code generously provided by PR Hound

The Bottom Line

 

 

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L.J. Lowery

Born in southern California, but currently residing in Lafayette, Louisiana. Loves Hip Hop music, comics, and video games. Events/Media Coordinator, Podcast Producer, and Public Relations.

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