Game Review: Plague Inc.

Plague Inc. is a real time strategy game for your mobile devices with a dark twist. Your goal is to eradicate all of humankind with a plague of your own creation. You micromanage symptoms, transmission methods, and abilities (heat resistance, genetic coding, etc.). Starting with one infected person in a country of your choosing, you have to grow the little plague into a global event before a cure is developed. You control the game through the touch screen. Collect infection and DNA bubbles to boost your points and pop blue research bubbles to slow down the cure. You interact with menus, news, and data by clicking. The controls are easy to pick up and make sense.

Yesterday, the game updated to fix a few bugs. Too bad Ndemic Creations didn't address some of the game-killing flaws.

Mark my word, Plague Inc. will crash on you. It might crash in the beginning. It's more likely to crash when you're about to win. You can save at any time and quit back to the menu, but a game isn't fun when you have to keep taking yourself out of the action to preemptively strike against bad coding.

Plague Inc. MapJust as bad is the layout of the screen. Ndemic Creations put clickable news, speed/pause, and menu bars at the top of the screen. They actually sit on top of the world map that you play on. That means you can miss out on popping bubbles because you physically can't reach them. The map does not fit on the screen--you have to slide back and forth to reach the sides--and zooming in does nothing but block out other countries as the game goes on. If you can't click the bubbles in time, you can't win. You need the points to upgrade your plague and you get them either by clicking bubbles or a random (never explained) incremental scoring system.

There are other issues with the game. The random symptoms that evolve on their own are typically the symptoms that actually hurt your fight against the cure. If you're awarded tumors, you'll get a news pop up a minute later saying scientists have an advantage against tumors. It no longer matters that you are infecting people with paralysis, insanity, and hemophilia. Suddenly, the cure is only days away because tumors are easier to treat than paper cuts.

There are other simulation games that do what Plague Inc. tries to do available for free online. I recommend Pandemic II as a free alternative. It's not a real time game, but it provides the same strategic experience with fewer problems.

Thoughts? Love to hear them.

The Link Rally: 13 June 2012

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