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Platform

PC

 

Genre

Puzzle

 

Publisher

Global Star Software

 

Developer

Small Rockets

 

ESRB

E (Everyone)

 

Released

Q2 2002

 

 

- Simple and clean interface

- Easy to learn

- Great multiplayer

 

 

- Computer AI is dumb

- Extremely limited number of boards detracts from both single and multiplayer games

 

 

N/A

 

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Assimilation

Score as a Single-Player Game: 4.2 / 10

Score as a Multiplayer Game: 7.8 / 10

 

Assimilation is like two games in one – a Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde conflagration – which is why I felt it necessary to give two scores.  The single-player game is so easy as to be boredom inducing.  As a multiplayer game, it shines but is marred by a limited number of boards.  But once again, I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

assimilation-1.jpg (127494 bytes)          assimilation-2.jpg (113417 bytes)

 

The goal of Assimilation is to either assimilate your opponent’s pieces (hence the title) or box them in so they have no moves available.  Each piece can jump a square or clone itself to move one space and create another piece.  If you clone or jump to a space adjacent to an opponent’s piece, those pieces are assimilated – something akin to the board game classic, Othello (and also Chess and Connect Four).  Assimilation is one of those games that’s easy to learn and seemingly master – especially against the computer AI.  Even on Expert setting, the time limit set to 5 seconds, and only about 10 minutes experience, the AI was never a problem.  This is a critical flaw – a challenging AI makes or breaks a game like this, at least for the single-player component.

 

Multiplayer is Assimilation’s strongest aspect and a whole new ball game – hell, it’s not even in the same league as single-player – but is still marred by the boards.  Getting a multiplayer game up and running goes off without a hitch but finding other players can be hit and miss (at least at the time of this writing).  However, when you do get a full house – 8 players at once – things get very interesting and challenging.  The computer AI pales even further when you pit yourself against human opponents.  Strategies change quite a bit and if you get a few dedicated players, you can play for hours at a time and become mildly addicted.  It challenges your brain more than your reflexes, unlike most multiplayer games I’m used to (e.g. Unreal Tournament, Red Alert 2).  But the boards… damn them!

 

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There are only 10 of them and there’s no option to create more.  The choices also decrease as the number of players goes up since only a few boards can accommodate a higher number of players.  Classic board games only have one board, true.  However, this is a different medium and gamers expect a bit more. That’s not to say they aren’t well designed and nice to look at, but I’m always amazed at what freelancers can do with an existing game.

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Sound and graphics are crisp and clean, and will run nicely on a low end PC (like the one you and your co-workers have at work… hmmm…).  Every time you score a big assimilation the screen ripples in waves.  What amazes me most about the in-game music (limited to one tune, really) is that it doesn’t get tired and hard on the ears.  At times it evokes an image of yourself about to save the galaxy or unlock the Reason for Being.

 

Assimilation will appeal to board game oriented people, but to get full enjoyment, they should have an Internet connection.  If Small Rockets wants people to keep playing they should supply a board editor or at least more levels (and possibly a booming voice announcing “Assimilated!” every time you get a big score).

 

- Omni

(May 19, 2002)

 

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