Better Late Than Never & Darwinia Review

Yeah, I didn’t update on Monday. Real Life is interfering again.

I have quite a lot I want to write about for this weblog, and for Savage Worlds, and other stuff, but I can’t afford to not work for crappy minimum wage at the moment. And I’m very cranky right now because I could have posted on time if at least one out of the two people who didn’t show up yesterday had shown up. So I had to cover for two shifts instead of taking a nice day off (or at least half a day off) to finish the NE article and possibly some other writing. And later this morning I have to go to work at my second job. Because I’m broke and I need money for textbooks.

When it comes to non-money matters, life is pretty sweet right now. I have a complete set of official Source Engine games now, since I decided that I wanted to play a good portion of Half Life Source to refresh my memory of HL1 and also for screenshots for my now-ridiculously-massively-ambitious All Things Valve Manifesto. It was originally going to be just a few paragraphs about what I liked about Half Life 2, and has now gotten somewhat out of control. Still, assuming Valve doesn’t release Episode 3 anytime soon, I will run out of things I want to include in it eventually.

I will finish editing last friday’s post ASAP. I think there are too many people trying to connect to the neighbor’s wi fi at the same time as me so I’ll try and upload screenshots from the college wi fi.

Also: Darwinia is fantastic. I thought it looked interesting at first glance, but was reluctant to get it until I read a review on Garry’s Blog. It’s essentially a cross between a real-time strategy game and a god game set in a retro-cyber world. Obvious influences include TRON, ReBoot and possibly Digimon. This abstract setting makes it extremely easy to understand what’s going on when you’re playing, but rather difficult to understand from screenshots.

The gist is that you have somehow landed in a simulated world called Darwinia. The Darwinians are tiny stick-figures that are an experiment in artificial life. You can’t interact with them directly, unless you turn one of them into an officer, and they start out as very stupid and helpless. With your help, they can gradually reclaim their civilisation which was recently lost to a viral outbreak (various monsters) and become more self-sufficient. The way you help them is by creating units such as soldiers (armed with lasers and grenades), engineers (unarmed miscellaneous workers), and officers (darwinians who heed your commands and relay your commands to the other darwinians). You can only have a very small number of directly-controllable units out at a time, so the game really is about helping the darwinians help themselves rather than conquering darwinia yourself. There’s also have a bald-headed guy who can’t do anything directly either (because he’s in the real world and not in Darwinia) but can point you in the right direction and helps by slowly upgrading your units.

This game is a refreshing take on a type of game I had grown bored with. Warcraft III kept me interested with it’s characters and plot, but it’s been a while since any other RTS has looked interesting enough to pay attention to. (Starcraft II doesn’t count in this case because it’s not out yet.) Darwinia is technically an RTS, but it’s goals and methods of achieving those goals are completely different to the typical RTS. You’re not so much a god or a general, as is typical in RTSs, but rather a sort of guardian angel.

If you get it on Steam, it also comes with another game, Uplink, for free. I don’t know if the same deal is available else-wise, but I highly recommend it regardless.

P.S. If, as my brother pointed out, you realize that because I am obtaining new games I’m spending money on those games when I’m “broke”, let me point out that Darwinia, Uplink, Half Life Source, and Half Life Dathmatch Source together cost less than my least expensive textbook this semester. Heck, they cost me less than the last time I filled up my gas tank and I’m currently driving a dinky little Hyundai.

Man, I really need some sleep…

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