GameTap writes: "You'd think that after StarCraft showed everyone how to make three totally unique and balanced factions, that the "three sides good" formula for real-time strategy games would take off. What actually happened is that a lot of games tried to do so, only to have mediocre results (hi there, Lords of EverQuest! We remember you, Maelstrom!), and very few have even moderate success with unique factions (Age of Mythology, Rise of Nations). For the most part, RTS games tend to stick to the "palette swap plus a couple unique abilities per side" mechanic. So it's refreshing to get into a Universe at War match, and depending on what side you're playing as, get a totally different feel and experience.
The single-player campaign is a linear story that starts with a couple of human missions, then goes through about five missions apiece with the three factions: Novus (robots), the Hierarchy (tripods), and the Masari (gods). Essentially, the Hierarchy start steamrolling all over humanity, until the Novus come by to help the humans fight them off; the Masari serve as the dark horse army in this power struggle. The plot crams in pretty much every alien invasion/sci-fi trope (crop circles, cattle abduction, anime-style robots that rebelled against their creators, the alien nature of the All-Seeing-Eye on the dollar bill) into a story that alternates between over-the-top goofiness (most similar to Mars Attacks) and some out-of-place melodrama (the invading Hierarchy are made relatable by having the player control a Hierarchy general with a sudden crisis of conscience)."