Available :01/05

Darwinia Preview © Introversion Software
By: Kurt Knudsen

A few years ago Introversion Software graced our screens with Uplink. The game was a challenging yet fun hacker simulation game and spawned an entire community of hackers and fans alike making mods and coming up with their own story lines to add something extra to the game. Today Introversion Software is showing us their latest and greatest project, Darwinia.

Darwinia brings a whole new look to the RTS genre and offers fast paced action as well as strategic battle planning. The story consists of a tribe of video game sprites trapped in a 3d world filled with viruses and bugs.

I got a chance to play their closed beta test and the first level involves you mining the area for polygons. Darwinia offers an in-game tutorial to start you out. The tutorial shows you how the game is played and how to use their unique interface. As you progress in the tutorial you will start building squads to destroy viruses and engineers to capture buildings and harvest souls and minerals.

Your main goal is to get the local Darwinians to control the mining machinery to produce the polygons needed for refinement. You do this by promoting a Darwinian to an Officer and telling the Darwinians where to go to run the machinery. While the build I had was buggy, no pun intended, it was very enjoyable and it painted a very good picture of how the game will look and feel when it is finished.

Graphically speaking the game looks nice, the GUI is different than most games I have played and I love it. The interface is brought up using the ALT key and and all menu navigation is controlled via the mouse, which is standard for the genre. The main menu you are shown is the creation menu. Here you will use your mouse to draw out different patterns that are used to create units and other objects in the game. I love the change from a basic sidebar menu and standard point and click interface, these novel ideas bring more interaction into the game.

The units are pretty blocky up close, but this gives the game that retro feel. The Darwinians are little green men that float around the main base area, the Officers you designated have a slightly different look to help them standout. Your engineers are somewhat difficult to explain but they have a 3D look with squads and some enemies sporting a 3D look as well. The viruses that plague the land are done in 2D and are little red triangles that swarm around the map. They will attack and destroy your units and Darwinians if you aren’t paying attention.

The music in the game is much like Uplink, with a techno feel to it that suits the atmosphere and helps move things along. I didn’t pay all that much attention to it since it is still a beta release but I think there are a few tracks that play throughout the entire game. Sound effects and the like are a perfect fit, your squads fire grenades, rockets, and lasers and the sounds coming from those three different weapons are well done.

Overall I must say I am very pleased with the current state of the game. I wasn’t expecting anything like this when I saw the screenshots and the small trailer. I cannot wait for the next beta phase so I can see more of this wonderful game and I think Introversion Software has a winner on their hands.