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A look at Multiwinia

July 22nd, 2008 · No Comments · Gaming

So the good folks over at Introversion sent me a preview build of their latest title, a multiplayer take on their original hit Darwinia, with enhancements added as well of course. Having never played Darwinia before (yes, I am shamed) I was abel to approach this with a fresh set of eyes and get my first experience dabbling around with these flat little guys. I have to admit I dumped a fair amount of time over the weekend on this game, and always managed to have some fun while playing, even though my only opponent was the computer.

The preview build was of course lacking in all of the game’s final attributes, but they did include two game modes, King of the Hill and Capture the Statue. King of the Hill also had various scoring modes that let me mix the game up a bit. Capture the Statue was a pretty straightforward game of using many multiwinians to carry huge statues back to your scoring zone. It was a nice diversion but my main focus was on King of the Hill. Four player battles were intense!

The Multiwinia preview build kit. Yey I have a Darwinian now!

The Multiwinia preview build kit. Yey I have a Darwinian now!

I was a little confuddled with the controls at one point, as the game didn’t have a mouse cursor and seemed to require an Xbox 360 controller, which puzzled me until I realized that my Guitar Hero guitar was plugged into the computer 😛 The game detected it as a 360 controller! i unplugged it and restarted and was able to use my mouse and keyboard. Navigating around the menus was simple enough, no crazy complex interface which was nice. It was a bit puzzling to see some options get their own screen just so you could select one or two different choices, but this not being a final build that’s all subject to change anyways. I did notice though that selecting my color, going into the Advanced Options panel and coming back to the game settings screen reset my color back to default green.

Like I said earlier, King of the Hill was a ton of fun to play. It took some getting used to controlling all my Darwinians as I took over more spawn points, but I eventually got the hang of creating formations and sending them marching off to wage battle. I was slightly annoyed by the fact that left-clicking to send off a formation wouldn’t de-select the leader. Sometimes I would forget to hit Space to remove the selection and send them marching off someplace else without even realizing it. This is mainly me being used to other RTS games where giving a move command deselects your units – I adjusted easily enough.

Darwinians do battle! KillKillKill!!!

Darwinians do battle! KillKillKill!!!

The only other small gripe I could make is that I noticed some pathing issues where my formations would get stuck navigating around water on the 4 player map. Again though – preview build so while I point it out I wasn’t annoyed by it – it simply required a bit more micro-management to get my formations where I wanted them.

Bumping the AI up to Hard gave me a good challenge, and during one 30-minute long King of the Hill game I got my ass handed to me. But then I came back and knocked the socks off the AI next time around. A special game mode called “Retribution” can call defeated players back into the game and if you don’t watch out when they reappear they may take over one of your spawn points and scoring zones before you even realize it. I like that aspect of shaking up the game.

There are also special items in crates that drop from the sky you have to collect by sending Darwinians out to where they land – the more you send the faster you unpack whatever goodies they grant you, from troop ships to gun turrets.

Multiwinia is one of the most casual RTS games I’ve played in a long time. It’s easy to just jump in and start waging massive battles. Spawn points are the only resources you have to worry about, and simple objectives, like capturing score zones, keep you focus and engaged. Although I’m having fun against the AI I can’t wait to be able to pit myself against human opponents. If there are more than 4 players are allowed I can only imagine the carnage that would ensue. It gives me goosepimples.

Multiwinia is slated for a release in September. Get psyched!

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