I have never been much of a mobile gamer. Back in my younger days I owned a Gameboy and loved it but I feel like part of me has grown away from mobile gaming. I do own a Nintendo DS but my wife has logged many more hours using it. The 3DS was neat until it started giving me headaches. So I gave up on mobile gaming until I purchased the new iPad. Someone mentioned a virus simulator called Plague Inc. and my interest was piqued but being a mobile game I did not bite right away. What a dumb move on my part.
Plague Inc. is indeed a virus simulator. Not far off from the surprisingly good Pandemic 2.5 this title also tasks the player with wiping out the human race. The game begins by allowing players to name their very own “bug” and release it in the country of their choice. Once released, players must mutate, spread and control their virus to bring about human extinction. As you work to kill off the less fortunate DNA bubbles will appear on screen. If you are fast enough to pop these you will receive bonus DNA points on top of the points you receive for spreading the infection.
DNA points are used to upgrade your newborn killer. Players can choose to mutate their disease to add new symptoms like vomiting, fever or hysteria. These “points” can also be used to increase the defense against a cure or advance the avenues of transmission. You will never directly control the disease but more or less use these options to help steer your virus to the ultimate goal of human extinction.
If a country feels the infection is too high and closes it’s borders you can choose to transmit the germ through birds and insects. When a cure is being created (it will happen) the player can choose upgrade the cellular construction of the disease or make it immune to drugs meant to destroy your apocalyptic fantasy. The amount of strategy here can be staggering at times because you never want to move along too fast to draw attention but wasting too much time can lead to a quick cure which means game over for you.
The game’s interface is easy to use and thoroughly explains each option/upgrade. I really loved the ability to compare different types of transmission depending on where you released the virus. If you happened to be in a hot area, it might be a good idea to make your disease heat resistant to avoid the slowing of infection. There is also the option to devolve your disease and try a different transmission, mutation or defense. The clock does not stop ticking for these changes so make them sparingly and worthwhile.
The scrolling banner of news is very entertaining. Everything you read via the news wire will be relevant to current events and some in the future. The Olympics are mentioned in a time line matching the real one and even 4D TVs are released down the road. The addition of real world events and people hit home and help to immerse the player into the epidemic.
The game has an excellent soundtrack. Nice and dark without getting too serious. All of the sound effects pop nicely and seem to fit the action on screen. The world map is very colorful and I could not find a country that was missing. Having so many countries adds to the strategy allowing players to start their disease in even the most remote regions.
I really loved the fact that you could tap on any country and see the population and current infection rate. This really gives a cool vibe as you watch neighboring countries fall because of your custom disease. Once the virus is established it can randomly mutate and gain new symptoms. This throws another element into the works and may even show a different avenue for infection or death.
The only real complaint I have is the damn random info pop ups. I needed to tap the bubbles on screen to get DNA points and that was usually a pretty easy feat unless a text box pops up. When these came up I could not hit the bubble and it would disappear before I could pop it. This is not a deal breaker but annoying when you are up against a rising cure rate and need every last DNA point.
My only other slight gripe would be the addition of a deeper tutorial for once you are up against a cure. I played many games initially and lost because I could not defeat a cure in it’s last 25% of creation. The addition of creation bubbles to tap and pop was a great help in slowing the cure when things get hectic.
A steal at less than $1
Loads of strategy and fun to be had
Great soundtrack and effects
Damn info boxes popping up and causing missed DNA points
Could have used an advanced tutorial
If you have an iOS device this title will give you hours of enjoyment. It is not the first epidemic/virus simulator but one of the most polished. With a load of unlock-able virus classes Plague Inc. fans will be trying to destroy humanity for quite a while.
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