Score: 4.0 / 10
adventurer, Rex Chance meets Lucy Willing in a not-so-classic situtation
of boy meets girl, girl has a flying laboratory, girl creates mutant
creatures from said laboratory to defeat the evil Upton Julius, murderer
of Rex' father.
goes the story of Impossible Creatures, a real-time strategy game from
Relic Entertainment. Like most RTS, gameplay revolves around harvesting
resources (coal & electricity), building an army and launching a
strike upon the enemy.
the last part that IC takes an odd turn. While conventional RTS games
provide a pre-defined selection of units to furnish your army, IC
requires you to create your own units. Courtesy of the Creature
Combiner, genetic specimens are combined to form bizarre hybrids. You
can swap heads, torsos, fore/hind legs and tails, resulting in such
abominations as the "Porcunk" (Porcupine/Skunk) or the "Coyain
Lion" (Coyote/Mountain Lion). Although imagination and
experimentation is the key, successful breeding involves capitalizing on
the strengths of each creature whilst retaining as few weaknesses as
Increasing your Research Level allows you to build Level 2 creatures and so on, unlocking some particularly nasty critters later on. The Genetic Amplifier gives further tech tree complexity, letting you upgrade the abilities of your existing
creatures (defense, speed, hit points etc.)
Flying/swimming creatures are accessed by building air/water chambers.
If defense is your style, you can shore up your base with structures
like the Soundbeam Tower or Bramble Fence.
In a vacuous bubble, the prospect of combining creatures would create all sorts of wacky experimental fun. But in the context of real-time strategy, it becomes an unnecessary chore. It's a
case of complexity for
complexity's sake: when your goal is to eliminate the enemy through
strategic/tactical means, the last thing you want to do is bother with
designing your own soldiers. The skirmish mode alleviates this with
pre-fabricated creatures, but this does nothing but nullify the
crossbreeding concept, a rather stupid decision considering its centralized
nature within the single-player campaigns.
hoping to sell IC on crossbreeding alone, the rest of the game is poorly
executed. The story is utterly boring... words cannot describe the sheer
banality of Rex Chance's Indiana Jones stylings and Upton Julius'
"evil scientist" routine. Presentation is bland and the lack
of graphic detail just doesn't do justice to the obvious savageness of
the creatures. My fearsome wolf-headed porcupine looked like a swollen
brown-grey mass. Inexplicably, there's no blood, replaced by yellow
sparks(!) whenever a creature lands a blow. Sound effects are similarly
stale, although this is understandable: just what kind of sound would a
cross between a giraffe and a lemming make anyway?
Initially promising, Impossible Creatures joins the scrap heap populated by similarly "gimmicky" titles like Max Payne and Red Faction. Games are like fine machinery: well-conceived, meticulously constructed and tuned to perfection. You can't piggyback an entire engine on the strength of one piston. The sooner developers learn to design their machines with respect to all moving parts, the better.
- Justin Liew
(February 12, 2003)
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