Well, I had some time to play this demo this week - it's the only game I've played in the last 7 weeks (!!) and I have to say, it fulfilled all my pent-up gaming needs!
First of all, the first thing that I noticed that it actually ran completely fine on my not-built-for-gaming laptop - the graphics at "low" setting were still sharp and crisp (can't wait to see it on max settings on my PC!), and apart from some slightly choppy frames in the large battles (most certainly due to my poor processing power rather than the demo build itself), the game performed perfectly. So well done there - some demos I've played come out and feel like they're alpha builds - but this one seems to give a nice indication of the final product.
Next, wellI'll go through it point by point. The graphics are great - okay so it's not a Supreme Commander or a World in Conflict, but considering the type of game this is, I'd have to say the graphics are top-notch. Now I'm not one for supremely advanced graphics anyway, but sure I have standards still - and they were completely fulfilled. The environments on the map were nice - very natural where it was needed, and equally "urban" as required. The only problem I found was some of the background stuff - like cliffs, electricity pylons - were a bit lost and bland ... they were REALLY background, they were lost in the map. The models, however, were certainly not - conveying the scale of the Hierarchy Habitat Walkers is done really well, and aside from some slightly similar models (I kept on getting confused between the Reaper drones and the radar ones), the Hierarchy side seems very well done. Of course, there were only 2 levels and hardly any of the options available, but they were enough to convey the way that side plays.
(As it happens, the Hierarchy plays like I do - with the brute force approach!).
The general gameplay is good - nice and familiar for RTS players, with some nice additions to the standards. I really loved the hardpoint systems in Petroglyph's previous game Empire at War, and it was good to see a whole side dedicated to this form of play in the new game ... it was really good to be able to equip different walkers with different hardpoints so they served different functions on the field. Obviously having only played one side, I can't compare the Hierarchy to the others, but from what I've read, Petro have done a superb job balancing the differences to create unique sides in the same game.
Now, I come to the greatest part of the game for me - the sound and the music. I'm just going to say two words to sum up my feelings for this, so you can just stop reading after them ... FRANK KLEPACKI!!! Okay, now to elaborate - Frank Klepacki is the greatest game soundtrack composer ever!! Okay, now to elaborate further ... the music fits so perfectly it's unbelievable. Okay, so it may be music that changes depending on the situation (or it may not be, I didn't really experiment too much), but the tracks themselves are absolutely fantastic! Hard-rock and techno were the mainstay of the old Command & Conquer games by Westwood, and it's great to hear the same kind of stuff all over again in a new setting.
Overall, I honestly can say that I haven't been so content with a single game since I played Rise of Nations for the first time years ago ... and that ended up winning the hearts of many RTS gamersacross the world. I can easily see Universe at War doing same, and in the hands of the veterans of the RTS industry - Petroglyph - I reckon it'll be the first step to one of greatest franchises in the genre. All this, based on just the demo ...