It’s time to go viral, and we aren’t talking about YouTube hits
Ever want to take over the world? Actually, that’s a pretty poorly phrased question, because as a human, you’d undoubtedly be going with it. Ever want to destroy the world? In Pandemic 2.5, you fight the invisible war of contagions—attempting to enhance your DNA until the scientists won’t know what hit them.
Based on Dark Realm Studio’s original flash game sequel (hence the 2.5 version), Pandemic 2.5 is all about going Darwin on the world by evolving your virus as quickly as possible. You begin in a randomly selected region in the world, and attempt to work your way across borders of transportation until you’ve infected the entire planet.
After naming your unique doom-bringing pandemic (I went with the self-absorbed Wittenkelleritis), it’s your decision to enter the world as a bacteria, virus, or parasite. There are a variety of bonuses and hindrances to each, letting you explore the world of contamination a few different routes from the get-go.
The only reason humanity hasn’t fallen to a global pandemic yet is because contagions are not clever. You, as the mastermind behind it all, are. As your virus spreads, you accumulate EvoPoints, which allow you to grow in several different ways. You can change your resistance to different climates, infect the earth’s animal supply to spread your cause, and increase the amount of deadly symptoms your disease will bring when it is delivered.
But humanity is clever too, and will catch on to your disease if you make things too visible right away. They’ll spread the news to other countries, attempt to develop a vaccine, and shut down their ports (especially Madagascar). There are only a limited amount of EvoPoints to accumulate in a run, and finding a way to wisely spend them over the course of your development is key.
All in all, Pandemic 2.5 is a pretty simple game. Your only actions are deciding how you want your gene to progress up the upgrade tree, and the game handles the rest for you automatically. Because of this, it can get a little repetitive after a few playthroughs. Yet despite the simplicity, there’s one big problem that will likely leave new players frustrated before they can even get bored.
The problem, and the biggest reason I could see potential purchasers on the App Store feeling really sour after purchase, is that Pandemic 2.5 does very little to teach you the game itself. There’s an instruction sheet that explains each of the factors of the game, which is nice, but it’s not exactly a blast trying to learn the game through your own trial and error.
This is the equivalent of giving someone a booklet on driving a car and expecting the to know how to safely operate a vehicle after reading it. I remember this being a problem when I played the original Pandemic 2 in a browser—the only way I could figure the game out was by watching a video tutorial made by a fan.
In a similar vein, Dark Realm Studios is currently offering a text guide on their forum to help players until they release version 1.1, where they aim to include a fully interactive tutorial. It’s great to hear how quickly they’ve recognized that players could use this feature, but until the feature actually exists, it’s a pretty big hurdle for new players.
In the meantime, if you’re feeling a little frugal with your 99 cents, run over to 2008’s Pandemic 2 on any browser and see how you like it. Pandemic 2.5 is very much the same game with a fresh coat of paint, a few more abilities, and the chance to be played portably. It’s still fun, but it’s hard to recommend as a must-buy because of its large similarity to the original.
Regardless, if you’ve found yourself infected the concept of taking over the entire world in a matter of days, then Pandemic 2.5 is the best way to pursue global destruction on the fly.