Jan 25, 2013
Handheld gaming is almost always a crusade. Good versus evil, with us all fighting to make sure Darkness never wins. Angels, conflicted protagonists and heroically flawed characters. I mean, everyone wants to be Austin Powers, but what about Dr Evil?
Plague Inc., from Ndemic via Miniclip.com is a strategy game that put me on the side of megalomaniacs of James Bond lore.
Plague put me at the helm of a plot to wipe out the human population, one infection at a time. My weapon of choice? The choice of picky villains everywhere: a deadly pathogen that could evolve. Now I had to groom my weapon to do as much damage as possible while reacting to and overcoming anything humankind threw at me to defend against the threat I had so cruelly unleashed on the human race.
Strategy pretty much shaped the gameplay. Logic was a part of the fabric; for example, when selecting a location to start the disease. Of course, countries with better infrastructure (read: richer) were more likely to combat the outbreak at outset, so targeting a country that was less well-to-do made sense. To create damage at the national level, I had to breed my pathogen to overcome resistance. using accumulated DNA points, I also had to strategize as to how to effect further transmission. As the game went on, I had to weigh full-on assaults against under-the-radar, gentler type of infection patterns. To start, I had bacteria, with other seeds (like bio-weapons and fungus) available to be unlocked and/or purchased. There were also three levels of play to pick from.
To grow my disease, I had to understand what I was growing. I could cultivate transmission traits and symptoms. Quicker infection rates kicked back more DNA points to me, as well as destabilized cure efforts. Landlocked countries were good for quicker transmissions; islands were understandably less helpful in spreading the contagion. Things like climate and mutations affected gameplay as well. I liked the little things that added to the overall mental portion of the game. This was a freemium model that actually worked.
The game was set on a global map, with scary coloration used to show diseases spread overlaid with boats, planes and flashing information. The sounds ranged from spookily panicked to the innocuously disquieting. You’ll never view a cough the same way again, or nursery rhymes for that matter.
All in all, it is an excellent port of an excellent game. I found it to be more than a little addictive, and had plenty of fun things to discover at the different levels. Designing killer viruses was never so much fun, and I am not entirely sure whether to be happy about that.