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Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: G5

Multiwinia: Survival Of The Flattest
March 17, 2009 | Franklin Pride

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Inflections Spread Fast
Ever since the original release of Darwinia, there has been demand for a sequel. Its entertaining combination of action and strategy was very effective and only lacked in one area: it didn't have any support for cooperative or competitive multiplayer. As such, any sequel would ideally have another excellent campaign and an attached multiplayer version with the same mechanics.

Unfortunately, Multiwinia has neither. It takes Darwinia from simple, yet elegant to just simple. The main disappointment is that there is no campaign or story whatsoever. What's worse, though, is that the strategy has been reduced to simple mass troop movement and placement. Instead of being able to create your own squads, armor, etc., and research new technologies as the game continues, you're stuck with crate drops and simple orders of darwinians. The latter is definitely the worse of the two.

The main problem lies in the fact that it ends up being all about how lucky you are. When two equal forces of darwinians meet, it's always the one with better placed grenades that wins. When two equal players meet, it's always the one with the better crate drops that wins. If you turn the crate drops off, then it's usually whoever attacks first. Defenders tend to win, because their units back away from grenades while the attackers push forward right into them. This leads to both sides sitting back with their troops ready for an attack until one side gets bored and charges.

Multiwinia does mix up the action a bit with six different game modes, though. The first three are pretty standard fare, domination, capture the flag (statue), and king of the hill, but the last three, assault, rocket riot, and blitzkrieg are much more unique. None of them are too different in the end, due to the simplified mechanics, but the last three are worth mentioning.

Assault is pretty straightforward. The attackers have a gigantic army with occasional troop carriers and the defenders have a large variety of defensive weapons and a much smaller army. The attackers' job is to overrun the defenders' defenses before the time runs out, and the defenders' job is to stop the attackers. The only real problem with this mode is that each map tends to have a pretty distinct advantage for one side or the other and almost always ends with a win for that side.

Rocket Riot is a combination of king of the hill, domination, and assault. You have to capture a number of points around the map to fuel your rocket, keep your rocket guarded so it doesn't get lit on fire, and mess up your opponents' rockets enough so that yours is the first to launch. It's actually quite enjoyable in a game with more than two players, as it has more than enough going on to require your full attention.


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