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Darwinia+ Review
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Computer hacker wins nobel peace prize

Introversion are a niche developer whom have found a dedicated fan base. One of my favourite games of theirs definitely has to be Uplink. That game was pretty epic and I was hoping for a little more of that awesomeness in Darwinia+ for the XBLA. Sadly it doesn’t quite hold me as much as Uplink does and that’s not down to the game itself, more to do with a matter of taste and preference. Darwinia+ is a RTS come third person shooter and transitions to PC to the Xbox 360 extremely well, especially when it comes to the controls, but i’ll get to that later. You play as a hacker whom has hacked into the the Darwinian universe only to find that their peaceful way of life has been threatened by a nasty computer virus. You meet a scientist named Dr. Sepulveda he greets you with some initial haste and calls on you to help the Darwinian’s survive and overcome the virus itself.

Darwinians at war

Now the first thing that will strike you with this game is if you’ve suddenly taken a drug that was made by an 80′s game programmer. You have a little bit of a Centipete meets Tron meets Virus feel going on. For those not familiar with Virus it’s a 1980 something based game made for the Atari ST. A wireframe styled landscape compliments the 2D sterile shaped Darwinians nicely and each level just looks nice. What Introversion have done is splice the best of retro, re-house it in modern hardware but kept the game mechanics as modern as possible. To defeat the manner of Viri, Trefids, squids and spiders it will take the use of your squad which can only be described as Daleks that had been tangoed. You can select these units by pressing the A button and physically control them around the map. The other tool you’ll require is the use of the engineer, it flies around the game space and can hack communication towers and satellites to enable your squad to re-spawn nearer the infection or travel through the satellite signal onto other islands inaccessible by shields and black matter.

In terms of level progression it’s well set and thankfully your squaddie of ray shooting Dalek type orange things will have more weapons at their diposal as Sepulveda picks up more research materials farmed by the engineers. The game isn’t all about killing the virus either, if you collect the souls of the virus they can be re-programmed into new Darwinians leading to a bigger population of those endearing green flat organisms.

Darwinia is pretty good, but don’t expect to be passing through the levels in a couple of minutes, throughout the levels the pocket of infection are littered throughout big sprawling maps and any virus unleft will simply repopulate. This is time consuming, so bear that in mind before laying down the 1200 points. The game isn’t without its frustration either the Darwinian populus are often left to their own devices and can often move around at will and when guiding them to a safety portal it can become frustrating trying to get them all going in the right direction, once you get over the initial control of appointing a leader this becomes more managable. One of my biggest gripes with the game is the omni-directional shooting. It doesn’t feel accurate enough and when trying to kill matured viri this can be an absolute chore as they zoom around the terrain so quickly it’s difficult to track them down. Fortunately later upgrades such as grenades and air strikes the the edge off somewhat. All in all Darwinia is pretty good, you’d definitely need to be patient with it though and have the time to invest into it, but if you do you’ll find it a rewarding experience.

tracer fire

Wait, i’m not finished! Darwinia+ also has bundled Introversions highly regarded multiplayer component Multiwinia. Multiwinia is set several decades after the events of Darwinia and a cival war has broken out between the population and war commences. The multiplayer events take place over Xbox Live and in single player so you aren’t immediately thrown into the deep end. The online game modes include domination whereby you have to control areas of the map and rack the highest number of kills. There are also King of the Hill, Capture the Statue, Rocket Race & Blitzkrieg modes to give the game plenty of variety. Domination really is the easiest mode to get to grips with, whilst the other modes really require you to hit the single player and learn how to play them properly.

Multiwinia does play differently from Darwinia in the fact that it is all about unit control and collecting crates to get powerups to defeat your enemy. This plays more like your standard command & conquer style of play and that’s no bad thing. In many ways I preferred this as it enabled me to create units with leaders and force my way through in mass in Dominator. It will require skill and pre-planning and for strategy fans that’ll be a big drawing point. Also, the multiplayer options are vast, you can play between 2 & 4 player matches and set up custom and private matches to boot, nice if you hate playing strangers.

All in all Darwinia+ is a solid title and worth the 1200 points, just. It is a matter of taste as to whether you will enjoy this title and I seriously recommend playing the trial before commiting to the purchase as its very much like Jeff Minters space giraffe in terms of it’s a niche game that doesn’t intend to appeal to everyone.

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Rating: 10.0/10 (1 vote cast)
Darwinia+ Review, 10.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating
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