Game Review | Plague Inc. Evolved
Game summary: Control a plague which has infected patient zero. Infect and kill the whole world population by evolving the plague and adapting to various environments. However, there is a time pressure to complete the game before humans develop a cure for the plague. (Wikipedia)
I first played this - or at least, a near-identical game - as Pandemic 2, which was a browser-based title, and I've got to say that I can't really see too much difference. In some ways, that's no bad thing, but it might change your perception of just how much value for money you're getting here.
Plague Inc. Evolved certainly looks better than the web game, but even that is more a layer of polish akin to a re-mastering instead of really trying to make the game look as good as it could. Even just video clips or still images - something to connect us to the tragedy we're causing in gameplay.
That might seem a little harsh, or even uncaring, but the whole point of the game is to be harsh and uncaring, because you're trying to wipe out humanity! Keeping that distance between player and the result of the actions does keep things from becoming too grim, but it could easily have been implemented as an option for those who wanted more.
Likewise, the music is very hum-drum, and never does anything to elevate the game. It's genuinely just there as background filler and that's a disappointment too - even when billions of died, there's no change in tone or tempo, just the same repetitive tune until the human race is dead.
Admittedly, the audio-visual side of things isn't why anyone's going to be playing Plague Inc. Evolved, it's the opportunity to mess around with bacteria, diseases, bio-weapons and more. Hell, even the Simian Flu from the recent Planet of the Apes movies is here!
You unlock each new type of world-ending sickness by completing the current one, starting with bacteria (including a 'pity' mode if you can't beat one type on Normal and have to switch to Easy). While each 'level' does have its quirks, it can get a little repetitive as the end goal remains the same no matter what.
Some levels do have their quirks, including a parasite which can control its victims and lets you take control of aeroplanes to infect new areas. But the basic gameplay is about evolving your current doomsday disease and trying to wipe out humanity.
This can cause issues with some of the later levels, as things like parasites and bio-weapons develop very differently and often counter-intuitively when compared to bacteria or a virus. This might well be as true to life as this type of game can make things, but it can be frustrating having to re-learn the game over and over again.
That said, Plague Inc. Evolved isn't a tricky game to pick up. It's all very simple, with keyboard and mouse-driven controls, plus you can pause the action at any time - useful considering how often you'll set the time progression to the highest possible setting.
The tricky thing for me is how to recommend it considering how much I've played it. On the one hand, there is exactly that point: I've played this a lot because it's so good. On the other, that experience has been across years because it's not something that you can play for any real length of time without becoming very bored or frustrated.
Plague Inc. Evolved is an enjoyable game, even if the subject matter is more than a little morbid. Simple enough controls and presentation make it easy for anyone to pick up and play, although it can prove frustrating and more complex than it needs to be sometimes.