If you've ever suffered through an ant infestation problem or been besieged by the little critters on a family picnic, then SimAnt will probably strike a nerve. Even if your entire experience with the species has been limited to eradicating them accidentally by stepping on them (very difficult in a soft environment), viciously crushing them with a fly swatter (what an ignominious death) or watching them busily go about their business in an artificial ant farm or a real anthill, SimAnt will give you a perspective and understanding of ants you've probably never imagined. Incredibly detailed and lovingly presented, the game requires strategy and good management skills to ensure survival of your family of ants. Make no mistake, the subject matter may be small but there are some tough challenges to overcome, such as building and maintaining colonies, feeding the hordes, surviving disasters like rain storms, floods and human shoes, digging dogs, and predators, both live (spiders and other vicious ants) or artificial (lawnmowers).
SimAnt at heart is a simple game and doesn't have all the glittery action of adventure and action games but it is, after all, a simulation. What it does have is a great deal of integrity, intrigue and interaction and provides literally hours of immersive game play. The interface, as in most Maxis games, is intuitive and very easy to use. Most action occurs through the use of icons, menus and keyboard commands with a nice arrangement of windows to complement management considerations. The viewing perspective is varied, from overhead close ups of your controlled ant to a panned out global view of the entire area of play (all 192 squares, or patches, that cover the backyard and house) with other angle options available as well. Graphics are what you might expect from an ant simulation, fairly simple in appearance but detailed enough to allow meaningful text, charts and graphs to enhance control. The animated cut scenes are a treat and surprisingly eerie in their own way. Sound effects are very well done and, in fact, can be toggled off if you don't like the sounds of ant carnage before breakfast (the death-by-spider sound bite is particularly memorable). As in real life where the death of a single ant is somewhat meaningless to the colonies well-being as a whole, Maxis had to figure a way for ant armies to continue on when your on-screen alter ego perishes. Through the use of a simple body transfer system (when your Yellow Ant dies, the next egg becomes another Yellow Ant), you jump from ant to ant and keep on trucking.
Of special note is the overwhelmingly detailed and precise manual that is included with the game. From tips and strategies and game play, to histories and facts, the ant kingdom is generously and exhaustingly chronicled. For example, did you know that 50,000 ants weigh approximately one pound and yet the combined weight of all ants on earth exceeds the combined weight of all humans? Play SimAnt. Where else on earth could you carry 20 times your own weight?
Graphics: Simple but effective.
Sound: Effects are well done and can be toggled off for those people easily grossed out.
Enjoyment: SimAnt has an amazing amount of strategy involved in managing the survival skills. With a great interface and easy game control system, it's a breeze to play. Various modes offer depth of game play.
Replay Value: Depends on how much effort you want to put into managing a virtual ant colony.
SimAnt explores the detail of the lives of ants, as you take full control of an ant colony. Build up your colony to conquer the other colonies in the yard. Foes include spiders and humans - make their lives a misery by invading their homes. A Quick Game option focuses on battles with other groups of ants, and a full Tutorial mode is provided. Biological detail of real ants is provided, to help make the package more educational.
In the full game the player starts out as the black queen ant who must start an ant hill and produce offspring to start the first colony. They control the output of types of ants between soldiers, workers, and breeders. Soldiers fight the enemy red ants and protect the ant hill, workers maintain the food supply and build out the ant hill, while breeders are used to start more ant colonies in the effort to take over the humanís property.
The player can switch from controlling one ant to another as necessary to do different tasks in the game directly. They can go out on the surface and collect green food dots, call in the troops and take down spiders and caterpillars or invade the red antsí hill and kill them off. While out on the surface it is important to be careful not to drown in the rain or get killed by the lawn mower.
When there are populations of breeders, they can be dispersed to other sectors of the yard and house within three sectors of the current sector youíre operating from. Once a sector has a black ant hill on it, the player can move over to the newly populated sector and work from there to continue furthering the black ants.
The game is won when the red ants are exterminated from the play field and the human and his cat and dog are driven from their house by the overwhelming ant infestation which has been waged on them.
The most ambitious and far-reaching of Maxis' Sim lineage, Sim Earth puts you in charge of an entire planet throughout its 10 billion year lifespan. Your ultimate task is to guide the planet's inhabitants into the stars, from its humble single-celled roots.
The main threats you face include pollution, disease, famine, war and global warming. The controls available to you include the chance to move mountains and continents, creating different levels of species, and unleash tidal waves and earthquakes so as to reshape your planet. All of these things take from your limited energy, which must be replenished.
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