Darwinia+ review

  • Intuitive port of two excellent games
  • One of the best things you'll find on XBLA
  • RTS console controls that might be better than PC
  • PC RTS veterans might find controls weird
  • Some won't like the simplistic graphics
  • Makes other console RTSes seem even crappier

Life, reckoned Lord Attenborough in Jurassic Park, finds a way. It’s a maxim which holds true for Darwinia+’s little computer people who have grown complete virtual lives within a computer simulation, only to be pushed to the brink of extinction by a computer virus. Recruited by the creator of Darwinia, it’s your job to eliminate the virus with real time strategy, digital weapons, and brain-tickling programming clout.

Darwinia is a world hewn from massive polygons, while the Darwinians themselves are paper-thin pixel men that walk like a saddle-sore John Wayne. Bombers are space invaders and viruses are literal computer worms which spread and multiply across the world. It’s a lo-fi and stark place but one that’s visually arresting and immediately recognisable from any 80’s vision of cyberspace.

Covering the middle ground between strategy and action, your role in each area is to extinguish virulent enemies with squads, collect their souls with engineers, and then transform them into Darwinians. The Darwinians can then operate generators, mine for raw materials and spread your influence across the world. It’s very simple yet endlessly intricate and inventive, actually coming close to coining a new genre in the process.

This package is actually two games in one, the second being Multiwinia+, a series of multiplayer modes. While we couldn’t test it against other human players, there’s a huge amount of promise in its clever twists on standard modes – King of the Hill, Capture the Statue and so on all feel like they’ll find a place on Xbox Live.

The real boon of Darwinia+, however, is the care and attention that’s gone into this port. Controls are wonderfully intuitive, with sensible button shortcuts and the welcome addition of direct controls for squad units, briefly transforming the game into a twin-stick shooter. In fact, this just might be better than the PC original; vindication for a troubled port process and proof that, with the right amount of effort and the right subject matter, a PC-based RTS can work on 360.

Feb 10, 2010

More Info

Release date: Feb 10 2010 - Xbox 360 (US)
Feb 10 2010 - Xbox 360 (UK)
Available Platforms: Xbox 360
Genre: Strategy
Published by: Microsoft
Developed by: Introversion Software
ESRB Rating:
Everyone: Fantasy Violence
PEGI Rating:


  • enoop - February 21, 2010 1:12 a.m.

    Any one want to play a game of this later?
  • Spydie4x4 - February 15, 2010 4:48 a.m.

    Getting this now... LOL
  • oryandymackie - February 12, 2010 6:17 p.m.

    I usually hate the term 'indie'. It conjures up images of emos screaming 'ZELDAAAAAAA!'. But this looks like a good RTS 'indie' game, and if I had Live it would be well downloaded, innit?
  • Centros - February 11, 2010 3:35 a.m.

    A truly epic indie game.
  • EnragedTortoise1 - February 10, 2010 8:47 p.m.

    It's games like this that make me want a 360.
  • Ocelot - February 10, 2010 5:04 p.m.

    I was just coming to post the exact same thing about the Jurassic Park quote. Ian Malcom FTW!
  • Jbo87 - February 10, 2010 1:49 p.m.

    It was actually Jeff Goldblum's character that said 'life finds a way' but I doubt anyone has watched that film as many times as I have. ;-) On a different note I might have to check this game out. I've always quite enjoyed console RTS' largely because I've never owned a decent PC.

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