July 16, 2012

iOS Games Review: Pandemic

In a virtual sense of course! If the answer to the question is yes then I’ve got just what you need, that is if you’re not one of the hundreds of thousands of people who have downloaded the game already, grab your iPhone or iPad and download the iOS game Pandemic 2.5 from the App Store. This game has been developed by the team at Dark Realm Studios and was released to the Apple App Store back in May 2012 where it literally shot up the charts.

The aim of Pandemic is to create a suitably infectious disease and then manage its spread through the worlds population; the disease needs to infect every person in each of the 21 regions and then be lethal enough to kill them off, creating your very own extinction event. You create your disease by selecting from a range of symptoms, resistances (e.g., heat, cold, drug resistances) and traits which combine to hopefully increase it’s effectiveness; all the time the clock is ticking and you need to adapt to counteract government measures to control  and manage the spread of the disease, this is done by closing borders and creating vaccines. Governments on each continent will start implementing measures to reduce the spread of the disease once it becomes visible, so generally I try and keep the visibility down for the longest time while trying to infect as many people as possible e.g., choose symptoms for your disease which a person wouldn’t normally seek medical help for but would still make contact with other people. Once your disease is visible ensure it gets everywhere and is as lethal as possible. There are three levels: Casual, Normal and Madagascar (increasing in difficulty) and you can also choose to create a bacterial, viral or parasitic disease. Additionally, you do have the the ability to stop the clock while you make changes to your disease, taking advantage of the EvoPoints you accumulate as you infect the population. EvoPoints are used in the game to evolve your disease by adding new genes and traits.

I’m not sure what it says about me, but I took to this game quite quickly; I think you have to be a bit Borg-like in your approach and adapt, coming back stronger than before when you fail to achieve your main objective. Maybe the degree in biochemistry and microbiology helped a little! I would love to know what other science geeks think about Pandemic, I for one was really impressed with the science behind the game. I’m sure we could analyze each minute detail and come up with something dubious, but for a game like this I think it was amazingly thought out, you could apply real life biological principles and get a real life result – very very cool.

The strategy behind creating and deploying your disease (and of course getting to name your own disease) is definitely the best aspect of the game in my opinion. The only thing I did find was that you sometimes had to wait for long periods of time simply watching your disease propagate, or not as the case may be, especially when you know you are not going to be able to exterminate all of humanity – sometimes I wished I could just skip to the game stats to see how I did before taking another run at it.

One other point of note, in the forums there were a number of people who were a little frustrated by the games initial lack of instructional content, and I agree that I did find that I was working out a lot of the game play through trial and error; but Dark Realm Studios was not unsympathetic to this feedback and in update 1.1 they released, amongst other things, a new game tutorial which hopefully helped with starting out in the game and preventing some of the frustration of just not being able to wipe out humanity.

This is a great game, more than worth the £0.69 price tag.

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