UnNatural Selection is actually an interesting hybrid of two game types. You can tinker around in your lab with genetic manipulation and create better and stronger mutated animals to your heart's content (sort of a SimLife simulation) or you can approach the game as a strategic battleground and wage the war of supremacy through the process of unnatural selection (combat game). The independent lab research mode is understandably the better component not only because it's extremely well developed with just about every lab experiment variable trackable by use of a huge database and sorting capability but also because it serves as the basis for the strategic wargame of the mutants. The game as a genetic play tool would have been fulfilling enough but the inclusion of a sinister plot involving a rogue genetic engineer boosts the game to even loftier heights with it's depth of game play.
To add to the incredibly well designed game structure, there are 15 specially designed experimental islands to conduct tests on using your genetically bred Theroids (cleverly brought to life through the use of clay animation) and nine progressively more difficult islands to conquer during the strategy phase of the game. Combat may be a misnomer since in the battle mode, your genetically bred weapons of choice (creatures) are basically airlifted to an island where you'll continue your manipulation by deploying behavior altering food (such as lust inducing and rage generating supplements) and defensive technological gadgets like decoys and noisemakers. Ultimately, though, you don't engage in hands on fighting as your major function will be to strategically guide the placement, movement and reinforcement of the troops. But if you choose to play the Top Secret strategic wargame portion of UnNatural Selection, be prepared for the battle of your artificially created life(forms). Without continuous experimenting back at the lab breeding and beefing up your mutant troops, your island forays will be decidedly short. One relevant observation about the mission based segment of the game is that you'll approach the action with a scientific demeanor rather than an emotional perspective since it's no big deal if your troops are destroyed and eaten by the other creatures -- you'll just breed more.
There are simply too many lab variables and game options to cover meaningfully here but suffice it to say the designer's have created a veritable living lab with an amazing level of control and flexibility. To make the game even more attractive to the gamer who just wants to play in the lab, there are sixteen pertinent lab experiments that range from cannibalism to social isolation. Combine all of this with sparkling graphics, wonderful sound and speech, professional film clips, an excellent interface and a killer manual and you've got at the very least an engaging, thoughtful and entertaining game. From genetic convergence to environmental impacts to behavior stimulation, UnNatural Selection provides a vast playground for experimentation and artificial life evolution. So put on that lab coat, step into the laboratory and see what your cloning attempts produce
Graphics: Clear, colorful and crisp. Clay animation, film footage and superb artwork blend to make the game very attractive. Only small complaint is the zoomed-out view during battle sequences which can make visual differentiation of the Theroids difficult.
Sound: Wonderful sound effects and well done voice acting.
Enjoyment: Can get lost for hours in the lab just experimenting with the vast possibilities of genetic manipulation. The strategic part is a nice diversion that allows you to test your creatures but the meat is in the independent research module.
Replay Value: Everything you need for replay value.
An evil scientist has used genetic engineering to create a race of rampaging monsters. As a fellow scientist you must take back a chain of islands by breeding your own creatures that are faster, smarter, more aggressive, and faster at breeding. Raise your creatures in a lab where you can mate them, examine them, and even create random mutations by introducing radiation into the environment.
An overlooked gem, Maxis implemented the intriguing "genetic engineering" AI in this game long before Tamagotchi and Creatures caught the public's imagination :) A defected scientist has turned harmless creatures into killing machines. As a fellow scientist, it's up to you to breed creatures that would fight to regain control of the island. Cool animations, and an excellent "experiment" mode. Pretty steep learning curve, although trial-and-error in free experiment mode should reveal what the commands do. Recommended.
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