Darwinia Mini-Review

8 07 2007

I haven’t been doing much reviewing lately, but I thought I’d point a couple of the folks who keep whining about the lack of Linux games to the fine work at Introversion Software.

I just completed the demo for Darwinia, a sort of ‘Populous meets TRON’ game.

Darwinia is very much a ‘god game’ in that you are ‘above’ the life forms you’re interacting with, but, like Populous, you can’t directly control them. You can influence them in several ways (“All citizens, you feel an urge to move sort of in that direction!”), but can’t give the “you guys, move there and build a building, you guys, there and shoot them” sort of detail that’s common in things like Starcraft.

From Introversion’s page:

The world of Darwinia is a virtual themepark, running entirely inside a computer network and populated by a sentient evolving life form called the Darwinians. Unfortunately Darwinia has been overrun by a computer virus which has multiplied out of control. Your task is to destroy the Viral Infection and save the Darwinians from extinction.

The plotline does sound somewhat trite, and there’s certainly an 80’s-esque flair to the entire game. It’s modelled very heavily on TRON in imagery and concept (a model that Introversion seems to use a lot), so the rendered playing feels very much like one of those graphics demos you oo’ed and ah’ed at the first time you saw an SGI machine (well I did, anyway). If you make sure you’re not being overly critical and immediately jump up with “Gosh, Doom3 blows this away!”, you might find yourself enjoying yourself.

First of all, it’s a Linux-enabled, full GL, full sound, network enabled, multiplatform game. There’s no ‘hack’ or backsupport or Wine-fiddling here, the game has native Mac, Windows, and Linux builds. Installation was a matter of downloading the demo and running the installation script. On my machine, running Ubuntu, it installed and ran without a hitch, in full screen high resolution, and some phenomenal refresh rate (I noticed -zero- lag in any of either the cut scenes or actual gameplay, when I had several hundred characters moving on the screen).

Introversion has made it ‘de rigeur’ to have full Linux ports of all their games, and they have several that are top notch. I’ll be taking a look at others shortly. But if you’re into god-games, and have a Mac, Windows, or Linux PC, and don’t mind a new twist on the game with a good story line and comfortable game play, this is a game you should definitely check out.

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