Review by albrowne
Can they top Uplink?
Darwinia is a very hard to explain game, probably the main reason there are no reviews for it yet, but I thought I'd have a crack at reviewing Introversion's second masterpiece.
Before I start, I just want to say that although this game has a story, I took no real notice to it, although, I am informed it's very good. I don't feel it's a very important aspect for this sort of game, to be honest. Not that I don't like story in a game, Final Fantasy 7 is one of my favourite games purely because of its story.
The graphics are, if anything, unique. Introversion has managed to combine retro-style graphics with advance, fractal graphics that look cutting-edge. The amalgamation of new and old is truly a treat for the eyes as you make your way through the levels that both continue the theme but seem new and fresh at the same time. Although the reason Introversion chose fractal graphics was not based around aesthetics, there is no artist on the team, I think they have pulled it off very well and throughly deserve any accolades they receive for Darwinia's graphics.
The music isn't actually on all the time, but if I hadn't just told you, you'd never have noticed. The music only actually plays at certain moments, say when something is being explained to. At all other times, you are too involved in the game to care whether there's music playing!
The lack of music fits well with the retro theme of the game, making you feel you're in a 'modern retro' game, an odd concept indeed but one you get used to immediately.
When you're actually hearing the music, you'll find it to fit in superbly with the game, these people know what they're doing.
Arg, here is the part I was dreading... Darwinia is like no game I've ever played before.
There are many objectives in Darwinia, but the main objectives are to rid Darwinia of virii and to get Darwinia functioning as it was before the viral infection occurred.
To create units, rather than push on a button on the GUI, you hold ALT and draw a specific gesture to create a certain unit or change how your squads attack. It's little things like this that make the game so innovative.
An interesting thing is that there are no resources in Darwinia, you are free to create units and destroy them at will with no cost to you. This doesn't mean, however, you can create hundreds of squads and swarm the enemy, you can only have a certain amount of non-Darwinian units at once. This number starts at 3, although you can improve that with research. It is common practice to, instead of a moving a unit, to simply destroy it and create a new one nearer where you want it.
There are multiple units you can create and control, including Squads, groups of programs with weaponry and Engineers which capture buildings taken over by the virii and collect enemy souls to refine into Darwinians.
Darwinians are needed to work various buildings in Darwinia and before the virus came along, they were the primary inhabitants of Darwinia. They have other uses as well, for example upgrade them once and suddenly they are armed! Promote one to an officer and lead them towards the enemy and you have a fairly formidable force!
Enemies drop 'souls' which can be collected by Engineers and taken to an Incubator where they are turned into Darwinians at the rate of about one Darwinian every 2 seconds or so.
You can also send Engineers over to research boxes and have them gain new knowledge, such as how to equip squads with new weaponry.
I've had a lot of fun with Darwinia and can hardly wait to see what Introversion will make next!
There is a modding system built into Darwinia and a few modding sites are springing up across the net, so I'd say there will be still a lot more to do once you finish Darwinia. You can even make your own levels with the easy-to-use level designer.
10/10 - Go buy it now! At £20, how can you afford not to!?
Rating: 5.0 - Flawless
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