Universally Free Combat

Looking for a remarkably complex interstellar warfare game with both space combat and planetary elements? Then you’re in luck, because Derek Smart’s Universal Combat, the fifth title in the not-for-wimps Battlecruiser series, has been released as freeware. At 445mb, or 28 Peggles, the game is a waif compared to modern titles, but it still has much to offer if you’re the kind of gamer who is chock full of grit… and patience. It’s not exactly a smooth ride and the game was looking fairly clunky when it came out in 2004, and hasn’t aged well. Not only that but it’s impenetrably complicated in places and had a 200-page downloadable manual to supplement the fairly beefy paper manual that came with the game… And I can’t find the manual download online. Still, even if it is scary: it’s also free.


  1. Optimaximal says:


  2. Hieremias says:

    Free, eh? No deal. You’ll have to sweeten the offer to get me to play one of these things. They’re about as fun as a root canal.

  3. Iain says:


    Gods, I’d love to see Yahtzee review some of Derek Smart’s games…

  4. Theory says:

    Even the website looks like it’s stuck in a nineties time warp.

    What on earth is this thing about anyway?

  5. Piratepete says:

    looking at one of the videos is it really necessary to show the ship speed in metres per second to six decimal places?

  6. roryok says:

    I saw a trailer this trailer for it on gamespy last year, I later had to have a double hip replacement operation because I LAUGHED MY HOLE OFF.

    I have it saved in a folder somewhere called ‘the worst looking game of all time’. Seriously. What a putrid can of shite. I’d be afraid to install this in case it somehow eats my computer, or worse, encourages Derek Smart to continue making games long after he should have thrown himself in front of a bus.

  7. Jon says:

    This game must be amazing, it was made by Derek.

    Wait, is this the real Derek or simply an imposter puting the great name of Derek to shame….

  8. Piratepete says:


    That video truly is appalling I also wish I could run at 9.000000 mps, thats olympic speed i reckon, not bad considering he is holding a rifle.

    You have to admit the engine is a cracker tho, i mean that planet really does look like a photorealistic Earth doesn’t it?

  9. Ging says:

    Optimaximal: You’ve cursed us all! It’s only a matter of time before he appears before us now!

  10. roryok says:

    Yep, photorealistic alright.

    Set in glastonbury, but photorealistic.

  11. roryok says:

    seriously, there are only two other titles I’d put in the same rough ballpark as being this bad, breed and boiling point. And both of those look shit hot compared to this.

  12. kuddles says:

    I know it’s all trendy and cool to hate on Derek Smart, but I’m afraid it’s fully valid in this case. Universal Combat is proof that just because a game is complex doesn’t mean it’s deep.

  13. Hump says:

    he still has to be given credit for releasing it as a freebee. I just wish more publishers would do this.

  14. Gerome says:

    Knowing Derek “Smart” from his long-and-really-unbearable posts and his giant-even-more-unbearable ego, I’ll stay away from any of his games, even if he were the HL/Portal developer.

    Well, not that much, but you get the point.

  15. Wrestlevania says:

    …am I mistaken, or did the player somehow manage to hit himself in the face taking out his rifle in that Gamespy video?

    Downloading now!

  16. Sum0 says:

    For a long time I wanted to play Battlecruiser 3K or whatever it is (the predecessor to UC) because it looked so awesome: a truly freeform [i]universe[/i] with spaceships and tanks and soldiers. One day, I found a link to the freeware version, eagerly downloaded it, and then abandoned it five minutes later because it’s just… really… awful. It’s not even half a game.

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