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Multiwinia

Score: 91%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Introversion
Developer: Introversion
Media: Download/1
Players: 1 - 4 (Online)
Genre: Real-Time Strategy

Graphics & Sound:

The time has come to return to my favorite 3D world populated by the 2D beings known as Darwinians. This time, however, there is a decidedly darker tone as you step into Multiwinia. In the original Darwinia, it is survival of the flattest. It may be the same here, if you're able to survive at all. It is all-out glorious digital war. Hundreds and hundreds of little digital souls littering the battlefield. There is not much on the history that has led these digital beings to all-out war after defeating the email virus that plagued their worlds just a few years ago. Whatever the circumstances, it has become a battle for domination. If you overthink it, you could call it a racial battle based solely on the want to get rid of anyone different than you, or, at worst, a practice in genocide. But, let us leave those sleeping dogs lay. It is infinitely more simple than this. No dark agendas, just a really well done and fun game.

The game carries the same distinct 3D vector graphics look with 2D sprites representing the Darwinians. It is really a great example of how such a simple look can create a dynamic theme for a game. In all of Introversion's games, they have the ability to create great levels of immersion graphically.

Where this has no epic score that moves you, per se, the haunting digital landscape is complimented by the eerie background noises that actually make you feel like you are standing there on the digital landscape. You can almost feel a slight digital breeze on your face. OK, going to far? Maybe, but with the combination of the landscape and ambient sounds, the only way to compliment it is the sounds of hundreds of Darwinians screaming as they leave their digital souls on the battlefield for your amusement.


Gameplay:

Multiwinia is primarily just what it sounds like. Instead of the single player mission-based game we originally knew, we are presented with a wholly multiplayer experience. Sure, there is a single player version, but you are participating in the same head-to-head battles versus computer-controlled opponents. Regardless of whether you have or have not played Darwinia, you want to check out the tutorials section because they have changed some things slightly.

When you start up a game, you first choose the type of game you wish to play, choose your map, and then you can set your options for how you want to play your game. There are so many different game types to choose from. Domination - where you, well, you dominate. King of the Hill - where you camp and hold points on the map. Capture the Statue - where you use the Darwinians to grab, lift and move a statue to your control point. Assault - where you attack and defend fortified areas. Rocket Riot - where you refuel and board your rocket to escape. Finally, Blitzkrieg - where it is a steamroller of digital death and destruction. Not only do you have all of these options of the type of games to play, there are 49 unique maps to play in. The options to be able to affect time, handicap, and other map options leave you with thousands of gameplay combinations.

There is nothing friendly about this game. It is war. Be prepared to Improvise, Adapt, and Overcome endless strategies. When your Darwinians first enter the field of battle, they tend to meander about and do their own thing. It is up to you to promote privileged Darwinians that will organize and mobilize your digital armies. You can grab individuals or groups free from an organized commander and send them to collect things on the field of battle such as crates that hold reinforcements and tools to use during the fight. There are armored units that allow you to blow past defenses and deliver your payload of battle-ready Darwinians to their destination unscathed. You can defend positions with mounted turrets. There are battle units that move together in groups and shoot anything that moves. Best thing about the turrets and units are your ability to take direct control of them and lay much waste to the enemy. Your troops await your command.


Difficulty:

Multiwinia is hard. Even with the A.I. set to easy, it is hard. I was repeatedly decimated by my CPU counterparts until I began to understand the strategies that worked. I am not a fan of learning by losing, but I did find when I took on human opponents it was easier to be victorious after warming up by being schooled by CPU opponents. I have had the honor recently to look at several games that claim to employ strategy. This is not an easy thing to gauge all of the time, but here it is very simple. This is what strategy is supposed to be in its simplicity and perfection. This is right up there with Chess, simplicity in design and strategy. You have specific pieces that perform specific functions. You move them into position. You use their attributes. Nothing could be easier. Just like in battle strategy, you always have the "Human" element. To cut the predictability of these games, and sometimes making them easier or harder in the process, they have added a small randomizing affect with the crate system. You never know what you or your opponent are gonna get. Be prepared for anything.

Game Mechanics:

Multiwinia has everything you are looking for in a great head-to-head RTS game. I was sad to see that there was not the same map generation package that Darwinia had. I am sure the implications of the map generator would be a huge headache, but it could also be interesting. The only little control issue I came across was getting the Darwinians to grab the bombs from the Assault mode or the statues for the Capture the Statue game. Once they had the item, they seemed to be on rails; the problem is their pathing was less than optimal. I would have liked to feel that I could control them better. Changing the path would have really changed the strategy of the game.

I am still just completely sucked into this game. I have been playing it straight for 12 days. I was so excited when I saw something new from the Darwinian series. I was surprised, and maybe even a little skeptical, when I found out that it was going to be a head-to-head RTS. I wanted to continue the story, but I was completely and literally blown away by the depth of the game. It is just plain fun to play. My fears that the Darwinians' story was ending were quickly extinguished when I saw the ad for Darwinia+. Until then, though, I will be available for battle on the digital landscape.


-WUMPUSJAGGER, GameVortex Communications
AKA Bryon Lloyd

Minimum System Requirements:



2.0 GHz CPU, 512 MB RAM, Windows XP or Vista, GeForce 6200 or Radeon 9600 series, Internet Connection for multiplayer games
 

Test System:



Dell XPS DXP061, XP Pro, Intel Core Quad, 2GB Ram, Gforce 8800GTX

Nintendo DS Shaun the Sheep Nintendo DS Drawn to Life: Spongebob Squarepants

 
Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated