Posted 09 December 2004 - 09:54 PM
If you enjoyed the original Bacteria, you have got to try Bacteria 2! Bacteria 2 brings back much of the classic feel with a number of added twists, allowing for even more fun than the original.
Point, click, take over your opponents stones before he, she, or the AI takes over yours... sounds simple, right? WRONG! Every move that you make must be a calculated one or, with relative ease, the improved computer AI will overwhelm you, trapping you in corners and infecting the last remaining stones that you have left. The game can have its easy moments, but the overall game in itself is by far not so simple.
The classic "Single Player" mode is back, of course, but that is only the beginning. In the new Arcade mode, you can play 30 pre-designed levels which contain new "stones" not seen in the original game. Reaching one of these stones can easily alter the outcome of your current game. Of these, my favorite has to be the "bomb" stone: the computer has you trapped where it only needs one move to take over more of your territory; you however must turn any stone two or three times to dip into the AI's area. By the time you have made that many moves, the AI may take over even more area causing you to be even more trapped... but turning toward a bomb can change all of that! In one move, an explosion not only takes over a circular uninhabited area (and the stones connected to them) but possibly some of the stones in your enemies territory, causing a chain reaction which may turn the tables in your favor!
You now have the chance to play against your friends on a single PC, over a LAN, or over the Internet for much more interesting battles. Even the most complex AI can become predictable at times. Humans, on the other hand, are not. Do not forget to give this feature a try!
Unlike the original game, the AI now has difficulty levels. If you thought that the AI was too easy before, try a harder level for a greater challenge.
Bonus levels and cheats also make for a nice addition to extend the gaming experience (but remember... cheaters never win, so don't think that you will complete the most difficult Arcade levels that way!).
More of the same... but more. Although the look of the motionless stones has generally not changed, the animations of moving stones and especially the taking over of your opponents stones has been greatly improved. It can actually be fun to set up take-overs now merely to watch as the stones animate much more slowly as they infest one another. The animation of the menus and the intro screen also help give the game a much more professional look. The "last move" beacon, also a new feature in Bacteria 2, has its pros and cons: it is helpful in better-knowing the last move made by an opponent but can easily become irritating to see during a fast-paced game when you are certain of the opponents moves or a series of the moves are being made close together.
Simple and effective sound effects. Explosions, clicks, rattles, zings, blings, and of course the AI-taunt may be the only sound effects in the game, but what more is needed? Each fits the game well for its own purpose. The music, though nice, does not seem to fit the theme of the game in my opinion, however. The light-hearted nature of the music during the intro fits perfectly, but that same music during gameplay does not have a similar effect for me which I felt should have been more dark or mysterious. But this, again, is only my opinion.
I have been unable to find any gameplay bugs except for a minor graphical one which may have been on purpose: you can press "V" to turn on/off the voice taunt, but there is no icon at the top-right of the menu screen which allows you to do the same (although I do see that it can be changed using the gameplay menu). It would also be interesting to see the ability to create your own customizable levels, but that is another matter for a far later version to be considered and possibly not very practical.
All in all, this is a great sequel to follow up what I consider to be a very entertaining and challenging puzzle game.
Great work, Simon (as well as Neverest for the music) and to all others who helped in the ideas, development, and testing of this great game!