It has been a while since we have found a good scenario simulation game, and in Pandemic 2, players are treated to wonderfully made mechanics that provide an interesting simulation of how the world would react to a massive sickness. Do note that this is not a simple zombie-virus infestation game, in fact, it does not necessarily have to be a zombie outbreak at all. In Pandemic, you get to chose what kind of sickness you are spreading (virus, bacteria, parasite) and more importantly, you get to choose the symptoms as well. So if you want the infected to appear perfectly fine and suddenly be attacked by liver failure, then so be it –the game allows you to tweak almost every aspect of the disease.
Not For Everyone
If you have played Uplink: Hackers Elite, Football Manager and similar other titles, then by now, you would be familiar with games that run mostly from menus. You get to read real-time stats getting updated and make game-critical actions –all of which done behind a massive user interface. This means that younger players will be turned off by the game’s stats-based gameplay. Those who appreciate the what-if scenario however, will find themselves enjoying the slow but certain progression of the sickness and they can either react actively to the world’s attempts at holding off and stopping the disease, or players can be active, continuously evolving the disease to make it spread further and kill faster.
There is no real backstory here, if anything, you are a god who has unleashed an all new disease in the world. The game allows you to name and set the basic parameters for the virus and once you are in, the automatically assigns you to a random country. As the in-game time progresses, the virus will slowly infect the people in the country it first came out from. Players will notice that transport such as ships and planes move around from once country to another –and eventually, one of the infected will either ride on these transports or cross a border, bringing the infection to a whole new country. The main goal here is to completely infect and possibly wipe out all of humanity, and to do that you must be careful with how you evolve the virus.
The virus has several stats: symptoms, immunities and carriers. Symptoms allow you to set how the infected would feel –it is possible to create a completely non-fatal disease or one that will kill the infected in a matter of moments, just how bad the disease can be is based on what you prefer (and your available evolution points of course). Several symptoms are very noticeable –such as blindness, vomiting, sneezing and coughing. Being noticeable means that countries will react a little faster to curing the disease, players must balance how much visibility they want as some symptoms are both good and bad (sneezing is noticeable, but it also helps spread the disease faster).
Immunities determine how well the disease fares in certain locations –this means it has to resist the various temperatures and climates of all the countries all over the world. Aside from that, there is also a stat that allows the disease to be resistant to medical treatments –this makes the disease very noticeable but at the same time, quite an effect killer.
Lastly, carriers allow you to determine how else the disease would spread (aside from the infected humans). This means rats and insects can be used to make the disease spread further, and you can even make the disease transmittable through water and even the air. The more carriers you have, the more effectively the sickness will spread –but at the same time, this causes countries to be active in working against the disease.
Real World Reaction
Realism in such dead games is always something that requires suspended disbelief –after all, a realistic depiction of all the ships and planes would have use staring at well over a hundred airports and ports, as well as dozens of the ships and planes moving about. That aside, the simplified mechanics of the game does make the simulation worth looking at.
The ships and planes move about randomly –no set schedules, this pretty much simulates the randomness of an infected individual being in one and spreading the disease to another country. Once ports and airports are locked down, isolated countries will impossible to spread diseases to. Countries that share borders are more likely to close roadways and borders first (as the infected can simply come walking in). If your disease is spread through rats or insects, then the use of pesticides and insecticides will be implemented. Spreading it through the air increases use of gas masks and the rationing of water will be done if your disease contaminates liquids.
Yes, most of the world will react on the visibility of the disease, and managing the disease’s visibility will be your foremost concern early in the game. Once you have spread the disease to most countries –particularly the ones that are in small islands like Madagascar, New Zealand and others, you can then concentrate on deciding how the infected will suffer.
Your disease, however, is not the only problem humanity has to face. Other real world calamities such as quakes, fires, drought and other occurrences will also happen (you will be informed of these through the update window on the left side of the game screen). People will certainly die from these events (both infected and uninfected), leaving you with less targets to worry about.
The End of the World
The main goal of the game is to completely eradicate the human race, and this is not reachable in all games. Whether be it bad choices or just bad luck, you could find yourself with complete control over every other country except one that has decided to lock down its ports and airports early on. In this regard –at least once country manages to survive. If your disease is really slow to spread, then it is possible that you get to infect a small portion of the world’s population. Engineer the sickness strategically however, and reaching the end-all scenario is quite possible (we highly suggest starting in one of the smaller, isolated countries so that you do not have to worry about these later on).
Obviously, Pandemic 2 is not the kind of game we could recommend to anyone, but at the same time, we cannot deny how much fun we had with this simulator. If you are a very casual player, then you might want to pass this up until you have gained an appreciated for the finer aspects of gaming. For those who are looking for something more than the typical games, then this is certainly worth a try.
The bottom line is that Pandemic 2 is a great game. Despite the slight issues that nitpickers may have about realism and scenario simulation, this game was developed on the premise of giving players a bit of fun –not a scientific research tool. With that said, the game is quite successful. The controls are pretty basic (all you have to do is move the mouse around) and the visuals are easy to understand. Moving around the world map gives you an instant idea of the general status for each country and watching the transports bring your plague of doom to major countries is always an interesting sight. The combination of easy to use stats, a logical evolution system for the disease and real-time country and world statistics gives the game a solid ground to stand upon. And thanks to the number of random factors (such as country of origin, government actions, etc) and possible disease symptoms, the replayability of this game is very high. Pandemic 2 is a fun way to spend a couple of hours simulating the end of all civilization, over and over again.
Try spread your disease now online by playing Pandemic ii @ Newgrounds Games.