I mentioned that I was going to put up a review of Darwinia in a comment I made on my Uplink review. However, I haven’t had the time since I stopped playing it until just now. Overall, I think Darwinia is a fine game, however I don’t think it is nearly as good as Uplink is.
The good… I liked the progression of the game, they did a good job of introducing new techs both on yours and your opponents side pretty well. They added about one to each side with each mission and this helped make it feel like every mission had something new, as well as not overburdening you in the beginning. This was even nicer considering that each unit really had distinct features, not just in what they did, but also in how they looked. One of my larger problems with RTS games is that generally most units look the same so I can’t tell what something does just by looking at it. Here, everything looked different and had different abilities. Overall, I thought the game was fairly fun, though it got more frustrating towards the end, and I didn’t particularly like the shoot-em-up aspect of the game. I also thought this game had a much better length to it than Uplink did, and a much more apparent storyline.
The bad… Graphics… I thought they were ok, but everything I heard about the game and even the feel of it seemed like they were going for a retro/tron-like graphical game, and I felt they were just a tad short on this aspect. Otherwise the graphics were good… Again, like Uplink I found the User interface to be rather bad, in fact, I felt this game was much worse than Uplink. I often found myself doing things I didn’t want to do. For instance, the way to use a grenade was to left click while right clicking (or reverse I can’t remember), but the left click also moved your troops so I would run into the grenade and lose my troops. The menu system was also really bad and I often found myself switching between menus without quite knowing how that occurred.
My last real complaint was the end missions. I didn’t mind them as difficult, but I found them more annoying than anything. In particular, I mean the missions where you start having to fight the viral darwinians. For example, in one of the later ones you had to take these stations that were controlled by viral darwinians. It was actually fairly well designed, the evil darwinians would come hoarding to a station that they lost, and try to take it back. However, there were about 5 or 6 stations per island, and 5 islands to control (plus a middle one with traditional enemies that is easy). In reality, none of the islands seem any more or less difficult than previous islands to complete, but by the third island I was sick of it and quit the game entirely. I thought the mission itself was a great idea, however the execution was bad, they had way too much to control and it just became more frustrating than difficult.
In the end, it was an ok game. I think it got far more praise than what it deserved, it really isn’t that far different than other RTS games, it is just in a unique world which in and of itself is great. I certainly applaud them for that, however nothing about the game was that great. But it certainly was above average to me. The fact that I almost completed it was a testament of decentness as I don’t usually go for RTS games.