|System: X360 (XBLA)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Introversion Software||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Introversion Software||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: Feb. 10, 2010||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
However, being able to create new units at a closer point of entry isn't enough to keep the combat from becoming mind-numbingly boring. Given the game's design of throwing hordes of bugs at you at once (not overlooking the fact that they often will respawn perpetually until all egg-laying creatures and devices have been destroyed) even taking care of a small task, like clearing the way for a group of engineers or Darwinians just takes too long. With only grenades and air-strikes to spice up the combat, there just isn't enough variety for arguably anyone but the most diehard RTS fans.
The other major problem with Darwinia+ is the Darwinians themselves. In a fashion reminiscent of Lemmings (minus the innate death wish) Darwinians that have been created at unit bases mill around until you give them direct orders. But, the damn things are so stupid that they can only follow direct commands, achieved by appointing one a commanding officer. A Darwinian CO becomes stationary, but gains the ability to point Darwinians in a certain direction, directing them to move towards objectives, but with the curve of the land, they'll stop when the appointed direction takes them to a dead-end. Thus, herding Darwinians towards various machinery they have to operate in order to ultimately kill the virus becomes as much of a chore as the game's combat.
Basically, you have to issue an order to a group of Darwinians, wait until they reach a destination, appoint a new CO, issue more orders that change the direction of their path, and then repeat the process as many times as necessary in order to get them to their final destination. And god help you if you mix up a series of COs that are all telling the little guys to go in different directions-it can get pretty irritating keeping track of them all, especially as there's no way to directly control a Darwinian (or even tell them to move to another point) if they're off on their own.
Darwinia+ has an interesting idea behind it, and its retro aesthetic and aural qualities are a great touch to the game's digital world. But given all the laborious gameplay, I would hesitate to recommend it to most. The multiplayer, exclusive to this XBLA release, might add a little bit of pizzazz to the proceedings with skirmish and capture the flag modes, but the design remains the same. Unless you absolutely love retro-style games or RTS offerings, you might want to give this one a pass.
CCC Freelance Writer