Should have been a great, massive RTS in the tradition of Total Annihilation and Supreme Commander, but crippled by technical issues.
Don't get me wrong. I do still think that featuring a Death Star in an RTS is a fantastic achievement. I just wish they'd also included something worth fighting for.
It may be souped-up fast and super tough, but Planetary Annihilation still hooks you with intense combat and brilliant enemy AI.
Planetary Annihilation is a slick, modernised RTS, engineered from the ground up to appeal to the fast-paced, competitive, hotkey-loving esports crowd. For people like me, it is a bruising gauntlet of defeat. But even I can see the appeal. Putting aside the fact that to play online you need a quad-core processor instead of a brain, the game itself has a huge amont of character.
There's a great game in here, somewhere. Rapidly getting into jaw-droppingly huge wars spanning multiple worlds is brilliant - it really is. And there's no other RTS that gives players so much destructive power. But the lack of tactical depth and focus on constantly rushing makes Planetary Annihilation tiring.
Overall this game does what it set out to do, and it does it well, giving both veterans of the series and new players a chance to experience some of the original magic of Total Annihilation, while keeping it fresh and extensive enough to create new battles and new war stories on a galactic scale to tell around the Real-Time Strategy campfire.
I'm not a fan of the lack of a tutorial, and I certainly dislike that there is little-to-no campaign story to speak of, but if you can get over the lack of instructions and make some mistakes while finding your feet, or you're after a challenging RTS with reasonable A.I. and an enjoyable online multiplayer and spectator system, then Planetary Annihilation is a more than worth the fee.
It's not cynical to say that Planetary Annihilation was built from the ground up as an e-sports option. As such, it's not really designed for mellow, thoughtful play at home so much as overly frenetic, WMD-laden violence before an army of screaming South Koreans. It has certainly learned the lessons of past MP giants, but whether it is really going to conquer that demanding arena or sputter like a damp squib is hard to predict. As a game in its own right though, a lot of what you're doing is standard RTS stuff, only simultaneously on a series of spherical maps, which adds dramatically to the challenge.