Multiwinia, PC - Review

Multiwinia, PC - £12.83 on Steam, or £15 direct from Introversion (with various other options too), or a boxed retail copy for £15.99 from the 3rd of October.

Review by LewieP

Multiwinia is a damn pretty game.

That's probably the first thing you'll notice about it. Introversion have a real flair for visual design, and Multiwinia is no different. I described it as "TRON: Total War" in the podcast, and I think that's a pretty fair assessment. The digital skies and vector mountains are really stunning to behold, and you can zoom right in, or pan right out to see whatever detail or scale you want. The humble system requirements mean that pretty any PC will be able to play it (2.0GHz/512MB RAM/GeForce 6200 or Radeon 9600), and the Mac and Linux versions are on the way shortly. It runs great on my PC, with a really solid framerate.

In an industry where the overwhelming trend in games it to strive for a gritty, realistic, aesthetic, Multiwinia serves as both a breath of fresh air, and a reminder that whatever tech games may have under the bonnet, good art direction will always trump megaflops and bump mapping.

That's not to say Multiwinia is just a pretty face, it's as clever as it is beautiful.

I'm not even going to attempt to place it within the boundaries of a genre. It has elements of an RTS, to be sure, but it disregards as many of the conventions of the genre as it follows. Essentially, you have a bunch of guys and you have to battle over resources, territory and control points.

There are various gametypes, each with different objectives and conditions for victory, but it always boils down to testing your micromanagement skills, strategic skills, observation and spacial awareness. When all of your spawn points are in order, suddenly your opponent will get a power up that tips things in their favour. Once you've dealt with that, a power up crate will land near one of your guys. Once you've got that, you'll loose a spawn point, and so on. There is a fantastic flow to the games. They are not so fast paced that it's hard to keep up, but there is always just a little bit more going on that you can ever completely keep up with. There is never time to sit back and watch the battle unfold. The matches are always time limited, and more often than not an early lead can be very quickly eroded.

The power-ups are pretty crazy, some of them border on being over-powered, and the right one at the right time can really sway a battle. They tap into similar feeling as the equivalent mechanic in the worms games, and are just as inventive as the weapons and power-ups in worms. Planting an ant's nest near your opponents spawn point never gets old, and the nuclear launch is appropriately epic.

The various gun turrets feel fantastic, you can leave the to be automated, or for precision aiming, you can take direct control of them. You get a fantastic sense of the scale of the battles from this position, and can take out specific targets (although you have to be careful of friendly fire).

It's billed as a straight up multiplayer game, but about a third of the time I've spent with it has been offline, and even against bots it is engaging.

Multiwinia is to 'serious' RTS games what Smash Brothers is to Virtua Fighter. There are definitely big elements of chance in there, and it is certainly less technical than it's peers, but it is often a hell of a lot more fun.

Multiwinia is tight, fluid and really does march to it's own beat. There is a lot to love here, every match is different, and it's an experience you will not find anywhere else.

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Multiwinia, PC - £12.83 on Steam, or £15 direct from Introversion (with various other options too), or a boxed retail copy for £15.99 from the 3rd of October.


Segacon said...

Great review. I hope this comes to Xbox Live some day.

LewieP said...

Well you're in luck. Darwinia+, which is both the original single player game, and Multiwinia, is going to be on the Live Arcade before the end of the year.