At a glance...

Previewer Platform Publisher Developer Players Release Date
Matt Bailey PC/Mac Introversion Introversion 1-4 (LAN, Online) 19th September 2008

Multiwinia preview

Darwinia is one of our favourite PC games here at allaboutgames.co.uk. We were so enchanted by an early version of the game we got involved with a "Darwinia Week" on the site ahead of the game's launch, to help raise the profile of the indie title. It culminated in this 9/10 review of the game, where we praised the unique gameplay and its wonderful visual style. It featured an excellent single player campaign, and we were never worried about the lack of multiplayer support. However, another part of "Darwinia Week" saw us interview lead developer Chris Delay, who hinted about a future multiplayer release. The game started out as a multiplayer title, but was honed into a single player one, as Introversion (IV) were, at the time, unsure how to make it work with two or more human players. Well, three and a half years on Multiwinia is almost here.

Multiwinia builds on the success of Darwinia by taking us back to the virtual world, back to its wonderful visuals, and back to the lovable Darwinians. Except, they're not so lovable now; fighting over the limited resources has led them to form tribes, and now a civil war has broken out in Darwinia itself. This conflict sets the stage for Multiwinia and its six game modes. Each is designed to support up to 4 human players, with computer-controlled players taking over as in IV's other multiplayer title DEFCON. The indie developer seems to have used its experience with DEFCON well to create a solid multiplayer game, though we've yet to see it up and running on real-world servers so we cannot yet assess the actual performance.

IV haven't simply bolted human-versus-human support on to the existing Darwinia gameplay; instead there's been a shift to allow you to directly control the 'Multiwinians' (the name for Darwinians in tribes) rather than controlling squads to take out the virii. It's all about the characters themselves, though you still get to promote them to officers in order to direct them to important locations. Included in our preview code were two of the six modes that will feature in the final game. The first amongst these is Domination. It has a simple premise; fight with the other teams to take over the entire map. This is achieved by fighting over the spawn points that are scattered across the maps. You'll need to take out Multiwinians already on a spawn point to claim it as your own. The winner is the team that either manages to take control of the entire map, or who is most dominant at the end of a pre-set timer (usually set to 10 minutes). King of the Hill is a familiar mode, but here it is a little more complex than ensuring only your team is in the zone to score points. With so many Multiwinians fighting away on screen this would simply mean that no one would ever score, so instead multiple teams can actually be present in the zone, with points awarded to the team with the largest presence. Wiping out the other teams is therefore important for success but not crucial for scoring at all.

The other four modes – which have been confirmed in weekly updates running up to the game's release - are Capture the Statue (lift a statue to a scoring zone), Rocket Riot (a race to launch a rocket from your base), Blitzkreig (a variation on capture the flag), and Assault (an attacker versus defender bomb-based mode). It all sounds very exciting, and the modes we've played already show the game has a lot of potential for those looking for a different online or LAN experience. It's looking especially good if you want a 10 minute multiplayer game to jump into, with intense battles to occupy your lunch break. We look forward to seeing the other modes in action, along with the rest of the game's many maps (we've only seen a few so far), when the game is released on the PC on Friday 19th September.

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