Aug 10, 2012

[REVIEW] @NdemicCreations "Plague Inc," for Iphone/Ipad



RATING: 9/10 CHET BAKERS

UPDATE: August 13th 2012

On twitter, James Vaughan, the creator of Plague, Inc and the man behind Ndemic Creations, responded to my (and other peoples) issues with the clock placement, and he said "Update 1.3 will slightly reposition things to avoid this problem.".



I just recently got an Ipad and went online looking for recommendations for Ipad games.  I've never owned a smart phone or iphone or any tablet before, so my gaming experience was basically consoles or laptop.  I realized that there'd be a lot of overlap in the casual games department (Plants vs. Zombies, Bejeweled, etc) but I figured there'd also be a lot of cool games that were on the Istore that I wasn't aware of.

So I saw a few different "top 10 Ipad Game Apps" online and one game that I routinely saw was a game called Plague Inc.  So just on a vague remembering of a positive review, I bought the game for 99 cents on the store, and I have to say this may be one of the better games I've played.

Now on it's face it seems like it would be a pretty straight forward and simple game.  You have to unleash a virus on the world and infect everyone on earth, and kill them.   However things are not that simple.  You have scientists from all over the globe that want to stop you by building a cure, you have countries that will shut their borders to all planes, boats or land travel, and depending on whether or not you are aiming to achieve certain specific goals (infect the London Olympics, Infect the World Cup, etc) if you make your virus too lethal too early, those things will go away quickly.

MORE AFTER THE BREAK



I learned this very quickly as I spent all the DNA points I was getting on making this the biggest and baddest virus ever known.  And it killed a lot of people, but the cure was found fairly quickly and I was eradicated before wiping out even half the population.  And this is because of a genius aspect to the game.  You not only have to be careful of how powerful you make your virus, while increasing the infectivity rate, but you also have to fight the scientists who are trying to wipe you out, you being the virus.

 

So while you spend your DNA points on upgrading the infectivity transmission avenues, such as upgrading the air transmissions so it can bypass the special filters on planes, or upgrade the water transmissions, to to do the same for boats, thus allowing the virus to spread quickly by moving across the globe, you also have to spend DNA points on basically modifying the genetic code of the virus.

You can spend points to increase the drug resistance, because without that, rich countries with good medicine will fight it and you won't infect people very quickly.  That also prevents you from infecting the Olympics, as I found out.

Now you can ignore that and easily infect the poorer countries that don't have good medicine, but you won't win the game that way.   You also have to take into account the temperature of the various regions.  If you start your virus in Greenland (always a fine choice, as it has no airports, and only one seaport, so sometimes it's one of the very last to get infected) the virus is tailored for the cold, so to properly spread your virus you have to spend DNA points to make the virus adaptable to hot climates.

These are just a few things that I have picked up along the way of playing this game almost non stop for the past week.  I've managed to beat all the virus types on Normal except for the final one Bio-Weapon because no matter what I do I can't quite infect everyone before the cure is done.  And there are also the risk of killing off all your hosts before you've infected everyone.  I was OH so close to beating Bio-Weapon when I killed off all the hosts with 9% left uninfected. 

Ndemic Creations, the brain behind this brilliant game, is actually one guy named James Vaughan.  That surprised me because usually games are developed by multiple people, but Vaughan has done this on his own, and it has been a massive success story, considering the game has sold over 1.1 million in just under 3 months, with NO advertising budget.  Everything has been word of mouth.  Of people saying "WOW you have to play this game!"

A comparison I've seen pop up a lot online is to a game that I've never played called "Pandemic".  I saw someone say that this game essentially took what was really great about THAT game and made it even better, and expanded on it.

And from what I understand the world eradicating fun is not going to stop anytime soon.  Vaughan is hard at work on update 1.3 which will introduce a brand new virus, the "Neurax Worm" as well as an entirely new strategy requirement, and other fixes and expanded ideas.

Then in 1.4 Vaughan has stated we will get a Zombie Virus, which on twitter he jokingly promised to make the zombies "scientifically accurate" in response to someone asking if he'd please make the zombies really cool like in 28 Days Later.

As I said I love this game, and there's almost nothing to find fault with.  The only minor quibble I have is that the placement of the clock in the upper right hand corner (which you can see from the screenshots I've posted) blocks some of the bubbles that will show up in Russia.   With the newsfeed, unless you tap on the button that says "news", you can click anywhere on that bar and still click the bubbles that give you DNA points to spend, or pop the DNA Cure bubbles to slow down the research.

However with the clock, if you try to tap on a bubble that pops up behind it, it drops down the speed option for the game.  The fact that the bubbles are only available for a very brief time can cause you to miss out on very important DNA points that can affect whether you can get that last upgrade you need.  Now the game does allow you to slide the map left and right to be able to access the bubbles, but sometimes if you're not quick enough to notice the bubble, slide it over and then tap it before it disappears, you're out of luck.

And in situations where there are multiple bubbles popping up all over the map, sometimes you don't have the time to do that.   I think, perhaps, moving that clock to the left hand middle side where there's simply water would perhaps alleviate this issue.

Also while you tap on the DNA Cure bubbles to, in theory, slow down the cure, I haven't really seen any evidence that it slows it down at all. I've left it up before just to test it, and it seems that the difference between popping it immediately and letting it sit there is negligible, but perhaps that was simply my experience and others have seem a marked improvement in slowing the research time.

All in all this is a fantastic game and a must have for any Ipad gamers out there who enjoy strategy games or simulators.

This is available on the Apple Istore for the Iphone and Ipad, and supports Game Center achievements.  The game costs $0.99 and it's more than worth it.   Please support an indie game developer in James Vaughan who has made an incredibly fun and addicting game, while also continuing to support it with what appears to be a long stream of future updates adding funtionality and gameplay.





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