Multiwinia: Survival of the Flattest is a dangerous game. It can bend your perception of time and then crap! You’re late for a previous engagement. It’s addicting, fast-paced, and easy to get into, making missing a deadline commonplace. Multiwinia is a simple game, and there’s nothing deceptively deep about it, but its fast-paced and chaotic nature will keep you entertained for awhile.
Multiwinia takes place after the events of Darwinia, and things are bleak. After Dr. Sepulveda’s virtual world of Darwinia was cleansed of viruses, peace was restored in this virtual zoo, but the lingering effects of the viruses ultimately turned darwinians into war-faring tribes. Now, the newly-named multiwinians are in constant warfare with each other.
Now, these details are straight from the developer’s site; it’s clear story isn’t a priority in Multiwinia, because these details are absent in the game itself. It’s most strictly a multi-player game, and if you were a fan of Darwinia, it’s disappointing to see that you can’t do anything to reverse the effects of this awful virus in some kind of single-player campaign. Darwinia fans will just have to suck it up and send their war-mongering multiwinians straight into the hellfires of war. It will break hearts.
When you finally get over the wrenching feeling of sending your men to certain death, Multiwinia is, in a two words, chaotically fun. Mutliwinia plays like Nintendo’s real-time strategy Pikmin series, in a sense, because those games streamlined specific unit functions and encouraged multi-tasking, except Multiwinia is all about world domination. Mutliwinia uses that same base concept, so there’s lots of simplification in this RTS, but it’s only for the better.
To keep the pace at a feverish high, Introversion streamlines a lot of functions. Multiwinians don’t need to be given specific instructions. Say you need to them to get something. Send your units over to said something and they’ll automatically grab it and send it back. You need them to capture a critical point; send them to the point and they’ll attempt to fight off any adversaries if needed, ,and if successful, the point is yours. To get rid of micromanagement further, you can promote any multiwinian into an officer and use him to send a constant stream of forces to any location or even lead a tough offensive block of multiwinians.
Multiwinia would crumble if the AI wasn’t up to the task, but Introversion takes care of that potential problem. Your troops are a dependable lot, and the only one that may let you down is you – if you make some dumb decision. The result is a game keeps its focus on the overall field of battle, as you keep track of everything that’s going on. The battles that occur are epic, as hundreds of multiwinians fire lasers and explosives at one another. Thousands will die, and thousands more will join the fight. Tasking your officers with new move orders or sending them and their multiwinian brigade to key positions is more than fun; it’s addicting. Watching your units completely dominate the opposition is satisfying.
Multiwinia isn’t a straight-up killfest, however, thanks to six gameplay modes. Domination, King of the Hill, and Blitzkrieg (a variation on Capture-The-Flag) are straight-forward enough for any player, but the other six offer new creases in how you play the game. Capture the Statue has you gathering statues that appear in key zones. Obtain the most statues before time runs out and you win. Rocket Riot emphasizes holding onto and defending solar panel positions, because you’ll need to them to fuel and launch your rocket into the virtual cosmos. Lastly, Assault’s objective is to send your units through nigh-impenetrable defenses to prevent a bomb from exploding and wiping everything out. The mode then puts you in the role of a suicidal megalomaniac, which technically gives Multiwinia seven gameplay modes.
No matter he mode you play in, Multiwinia is fun and relentlessly fast-paced in all of them. None of them change the base fundamentals of the game – multi-tasking and unit location – but instead makes you think differently in how to apply the fundamentals, like any good multiplayer game. Out of the all the modes, Rocket Riot is definitely the most fun, because it shifts from defense to offense constantly, as your opponents will probably try to recapture solar panels for their own use, and you’ll want to return the favor. Also, since obtaining a fuel quota is what determines victory, last-minute swipes of solar panels can drastically change who’s leading the race. Like the mode implies, it’s a riot.
There’s also an element of chance in the form of crates. Crates drop randomly on the map, and once you unlock their powers, you can rain hell on the map. Crate drops range from meteor strikes to buffing your units for a brief amount of time. Crates in general imbalance the game, because of their devastating nature and random placement, but they’re a lot of fun to use, as unfair as they can get. If you’d rather not take the chances, you can turn them off, which is a nice option.
Multiwinia, just like Darwinia, has a very strong sense of identity, because of its polygonal, retro-ish visuals. Words do little to fully describe the visual greatness of both games, but let’s try anyway. It’s sort of like an uncompleted level, in wireframes, except it looks fantastic. You’re just going to need to play it to see for yourself. It does suffer from a lack of variety, but on the whole, Multiwinia looks just like Darwinia, which means the game looks amazing. The audio, on the other hand, is relatively generic. Lasers sound like any laser, and explosions sound like any other explosion. There are some cute audio cues, like the marching sound multiwinians make when under the command of an officer or the untimely death of a trooper. Other than that, the audio falls short.
With around 50 maps and support for up to four players, Multiwinia has some legs. On the other hand, Multiwinia is a very simple game, and this initially irrelevant issue starts to grow into a relevant one after dozens of matches. The lack of substantial depth does mean the game’s fun factor tapers off after awhile, but it still remains a lot of fun. Short rounds also mean you can play in-between classes or on a brief work break. And hey, that’s a good way of spreading the word on this $25 steal. That’s right, just like all of Introversion’s games, Multiwinia is at a budget price. If you’re still pondering if you should purchase this game or not, don’t. Buy this game.
+ Fast-paced and addicting.
+ Still awesome visuals.
+ Battles get epic in scope.
+ Smart streamlining.
+ A bargain price.
- No single-player campaign.
- Lack of real depth becomes evident.