only thing more soul crushing than losing all your best soldiers in XCOM: Enemy Unknown (which we praised in our review), is when all of the nations you’ve sworn to protect go
into panic mode and abandon the project all together. The result? The
XCOM organization, starved for resources, ultimately shuts down, damning
the Earth’s population to plasma-toting alien scumbags.
we definitely encourage you to stick it out and put those jerks down,
we understand if you’re starting to get depressed watching the troops
you’ve named after friends and family get murdered because of stupid
decisions you’ve made. If that’s the case, grab the real-life versions
of those friends and family and sit down to a nice game of Pandemic.
Game Name: Pandemic
Publisher: Z-Man Games
Number of Players: 2-4, co-op
Pandemic, like Enemy Unknown, is all about preventing the world from being overrun by a deadly force--except instead of aliens, you'll be fighting off disease. You
and at least one friend will have to work together to do so, as this is
very much a strategic co-op game. Though Pandemic doesn't have any
alien invasions to speak of, and you won't be commanding a squad of
soldiers into battle, you'll still have to carefully consider every move
you make, as one misstep can spell disaster for an entire campaign.
Sound familiar, XCOM players?
not only have to stop diseases from spreading, but must also find a
cure and actively cleanse the world of them. To do so, players are
randomly assigned a role, each with a special ability, much like the way
classes are assigned in Enemy Unknown. For example, an Operations
Manager can quickly build Research Stations, which are needed to cure
diseases, while Medics can efficiently clear viral hot spots to prevent
an outbreak from occurring.
spend turns traveling to major cities across the globe, clearing some
of sickness while strategically choosing to ignore others. Neglect any
of them for too long, though, and they--as well as neighboring
cities--will be overwhelmed. You’re very limited in the number of
movements and actions you can take per turn; and when an outbreak
occurs, you’ll instantly be reminded of the stinging loss that manifests
every time a neglected nation abandons the XCOM project.
At least Pandemic offers some comedic relief: You get to name and
choose the symptoms of every epidemic, just as you get to name your
soldiers in Enemy Unknown. When the denizens of North America are
infected with mad tongue disease and start attacking each other with,
uh, their tongues, at least you can laugh a little while tears of defeat
stream down your face. The whole process is made all the more difficult
by Infection Cards, which can randomly turn small infections into
full-blown outbreaks. Terror missions, anyone?
are tons of initially not-so-obvious parallels between Enemy Unknown
and Pandemic, and both are worthwhile distractions from that whole "real
life" gig. Saving the world--either from aliens or disease--is never
easy. But that doesn’t mean it can’t be fun.