Too Much Free Time

Discussion and reviews of games for NES, Intellivision, DOS, and others.

Phage Wars 2

Posted by Tracy Poff on August 22, 2009

Phage Wars 2 by Armor Games is a fun little flash game, though not a terribly difficult one.

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In Phage Wars 2, the player is a lab tech whose goal is to create the most powerful virus ever. This is accomplished by playing through the 32 stages (called ‘experiments’) and adding the gene proteins you discover to your virus in order to improve its strength, speed, defense, agility, and ability to reproduce.

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Each of the 32 experiments contains a number of cells and enemy viruses. The player can choose to infect cells or attack cells which are already infected by an enemy virus in order to take them over. Once a cell is infected, the virus inside begins to reproduce, so the player can then attack other cells. The stage is won when no enemy viruses remain. A new gene protein is discovered after beating each stage for the first time.

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Between experiments, the player has the opportunity to add the gene proteins to his virus. The proteins have varying effects, and can increase some statistics while decreasing others. Additionally, each protein takes up a certain amount of space in the virus’s genetic code, so the player must choose between them to create the strongest virus.

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The controls are pretty simple: click and drag from a source cell to a destination cell to send your viruses to infect or attack. To send viruses from multiple cells to a single destination, just drag over all the desired source cells. The best strategy I found was to infect as many cells as possible as quickly as possible, and then to attack the enemy viruses once all the empty cells had been claimed. To support this, I improved the attack, defense, and reproductive ability of my virus, though I understand that improving speed and agility is also a valid strategy.

Here lies the problem with the game: it’s really much too easy. With a decent bonus to reproduction, the viruses will fill a cell quite quickly, and with a decent bonus to attack, it’s not hard to destroy any enemy virus given a mostly-full source cell. The game requires a little juggling to make sure you maintain control of your cells, but it’s not really hard to do, and by improving defense even that becomes very easy.

Phage Wars 2 has basically identical gameplay to its predecessor, with the exception of the ability to add proteins to improve your virus rather than simply choosing a virus at the beginning. The idea isn’t totally original to this series, either–the concept is basically just Risk, and the game’s particulars are rather reminiscent, to me, of the primordial soup subgame in The Time Warp of Dr. Brain.

The lack of difficulty and originality aren’t really so bad that they ruin the game; it still pretty fun. To be honest, I’m not sure I know any way to make the game more difficult without also making it frustrating or otherwise less fun. As for the originality–well, some ideas are reused because they work, and I’d say this is one of them. Give the game a shot if you’ve got the time to spare.

Gameplay: 7/10
The controls are nice, the mechanics are understandable, the concept is solid. It’s a little too easy, though, and the main skill required, I think, is clicking and dragging very quickly at the beginning.
Story: 2/5
The story’s just an excuse for the gameplay, so this only counts half. On the other hand, the story’s obviously just an excuse, so minus some points.
Graphics: 9/10
The graphics are polished and lovely. Minus a point since the foreground and background were sometimes hard to distinguish, and there was nothing that really impressed me.
Audio: 5/10
There’s nothing really wrong with the audio, but it didn’t stand out in any way. Some more interesting audio might have made my interest in the game last a bit longer.
Personal Slant: 6/10
I enjoyed the game, though I think the sequencing part was a little dull, and the lack of difficulty made it drag on a little by the end.
Total: 6.4/10
Phage Wars 2 is worth a play, though not a replay. In fact, I’d say that the moment you begin to become bored with it, you should abandon it–it’s just more of the same, and the ending isn’t worth plodding through the game if you’re not enjoying it. It only takes a few minutes to play through the first few levels, though, and those few minutes are worth it.
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One Response to “Phage Wars 2”

  1. 12345 said

    I noticed that sometimes you get more upgrades by replaying levels, and sometimes you dont.
    What is that based on?

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