Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Pandemic II Review

Pandemic is a web based flash game some of you may be familiar with already while others of you might not. The premise of the game is that there is a new disease of your own making that is making its debut on the world stage. As it infects and potentially kills more people you earn evolution points which you can spend to make the disease hardier, easier to transmit, more infectious, and more lethal. You can also remove traits that make it more noticeable so people are more easily exposed without knowing it.

Gameplay
You start off the experience by choosing your difficulty. There’s Relaxed which is kind of your easy mode. This mode tends to go faster and not all the traits for diseases are enabled so you’ll get a little less variety. The other option is Realistic which opens up all the traits, but tends to take longer.

Next you’ll choose a disease class; virus, bacteria, or parasite. Each class has features that make them more capable in some categories and less so in others. Viruses are very infectious but weak against environmental factors, bacteria are more drug resistant and less effected by environment but earns evolution points slower. Parasites are the slowest evolvers, but they tend to be much less noticeable than the other classes and thus tend to spread further, albeit more slowly. In addition each class has a different set of symptoms that can be added to it to help spread the disease or make it more lethal.

Once you’ve selected a disease class next up is naming your disease. This could be anything you want and if your score’s high enough will get posted on the leaderboards when you submit your score at the end.

When you’ve decided on a name and entered it click done and the game will take you into the world you’re about to try and destroy. The game will start up paused and you’ll get a tutorial pop-up letting you know that there’s basic information available about the different parts of the game if you’ve never played before. Honestly the tutorial section doesn’t tell you anything that you can’t get from just playing the game once or twice so if you read anything read the interface section so you know how to move around and do stuff and then start playing by clicking the “x” in the upper right corner of the tutorial pop-up box. This will clear the screen so you can see the world and un-pauses the game. To pause it again, click the pause button at the bottom of the screen just right of center. Next to it you’ll also see your speed controls allowing you to speed up or slow down the progression of time. Once you’ve gotten the hang of the game you’ll rarely take this off max speed.

Since you start off with 4 evolution points the first thing you’ll want to do is open the disease window by clicking the disease button on the bottom bar just left of center. This opens the information panel about your disease and presents you with some basic options. Divided into 4 categories; Traits, Transmission, Resistance, and Symptoms. Traits are inherent to your disease and can’t be changed so aside from acquiring a basic familiarity with these you won’t need to worry about this section. Transmission contains different methods for how the disease is spread and includes rodents, insects, water, and air. If you don’t have any of these the disease is transmitted strictly through human interaction. The next section contains resistances where you can make your disease more likely to survive and thrive in different environmental conditions as well as make it more resistant to potential drug treatments. Finally you have symptoms, which almost all make your disease more noticeable, but more often than not also make your disease more infectious and more lethal. At first you’ll only have the first tier of potential symptoms available which are the same for each disease class and include sneezing, coughing, fever, sweating, and vomiting. You can spend evolution points to unlock further symptoms with more impressive effects. You can also spend points to sell symptoms, which is good early on to help your disease go unnoticed for longer.

Once you’re done tweaking your disease you’ll have some more areas to check out.  The icon in the bottom bar in the middle is your evolution points pool and will increase as the number of infections increases. The button next to disease is labeled world and will provide you with overall statistics and a convenient list of regions that are clean, infected, or forsaken (completely killed off). That section won’t become real important until later in the game. Finally you have on the left side of the screen the breaking news column which will let you know what’s going on in the world and where your disease is spreading to (and how countries are reacting to it). Basically as you play you continue to improve your disease until you’ve killed off all those that you can.

Graphics & Sound
Honestly the game is not terribly demanding as far as graphics and sound go. It’s pretty simple in this department. Music consists of a single short track that just repeats and thankfully can be shut off through the menu. Graphics are just your basic contrasting colors and some icons to indicate what each region has and whether or not it’s currently operating, nothing too fancy, but very clear. You should be able to run this game on pretty much any computer.

Conclusion

I’ve been playing the game for several days now and I must admit I rather enjoy it. While it’s missing some things I really think it should have (like airborne diseases being carried across oceans by wind or storms) it’s a fun game and I feel confident in saying it’s easily worth a few hours of your time. I hope you enjoy your experience with Pandemic II in your N3rd C0rn3r.