Sunday, July 8, 2012

Plague Inc. Disturbing and Very Entertaining iOS Game

Plague Inc. is the latest and perhaps the greatest entry in the perplexingly popular simulation genre. Players must design the most lethal and effective plague possible, with the darkly satisfying end goal of killing every human on earth before they discover and cure the engineered disease. Your infection starts off basic, but can be mutated regularly to infect and spread more rapidly, modified to be made more lethal, or enhanced to resist research techniques designed to cure the disease.

Plague Inc. seems simplistic at first, but actually eradicating humanity is a satisfying balancing act between spreading your pandemic as quickly as possible without putting the human race on high alert and determining when the best time to increase the lethal qualities of the plague. My very first game, I did good with transmitting my disease thoughout the whole planet and effectively spread it to every living person. The problem was that it wasn't lethal and the good people of the Earth had all the time in the time in the world to cure the disease. They did just that - game over.

Although balancing your plague’s hardiness, severity and infectivity is a fun and addictive line to walk, Plague Inc. does suffer from a few drawbacks. The big issue is that there is simply too much downtime. Too much time is spent passively waiting around for DNA points to accrue or for your disease to fully infect a territory, even with a fast forward button.

There are some design issues as well. The news banner area, at the top of the screen, blocks visibility of DNA points that pop behind the banner. This news banner zips the headlines by so fast that it is ineffective. There are also news alerts that pop up and block the screen which makes acquiring DNA sample impossible until the pop up is dismissed. The speed and pause buttons box, at the top right, can block DNA bubbles as well Additionally, there is wasted space at the bottom of the screen. Instead of showing water, the whole map can be shifted down to eliminate the issues described at the top of the screen. There is an area of water on the left of the screen that could be better used. I would rather have quick access buttons to transmission, sympthoms and abilities in this space.

Gamers that can look past any moral issues should find Plague Inc enjoyable. To keep replay value high, players have seven disease types to choose from, each with their own special gameplay wrinkle. Viruses mutate on their own, sometimes introducing unwanted high-profile side effects like vomiting, for example. Fungal Spores, Bacteria, Parasites and other disease types each have their own specific hook to figure out. Players must complete earlier stages in order to unlock newer and more potent plagues.

I like to start my plague in Argentina which has ship ports and a warm climate. I make sure it is transmissible via water. I then collect enough DNA to make my disease work in colder climaxes and transmissible through the air. Once the entire world is infected, I make it lethal by adding pneumonia and total organ shutdown. Additional DNA is used make the disease immune to research and and transmissible via livestock, mosquito, birds and rats. If this can be done before a cure is developed and dispersed, victory is assured.

The Plague Inc. game is not good for humanity. Plague Inc should be banned from the AppStore for being disturbingly entertaining. I can't help but feel sorry for the virtual earthlings that must suffer and die at my hand in order for me to be victorious.  Four (4) stars for originality. Four (4) stars for entertaining. Four (4) stars for addictive. One (1) star was removed because of the realistic remorse that can be felt. 

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