Impossible Creatures Review (PC)
Set in the late 30's and featuring granite jawed hero, Rex Chance, Impossible Creatures sets out to achieve what no other Strategy game has done yet - total control over your units (creatures) in all aspects. The very idea of being able to design a creature from scratch by combining two animals chosen from a fairly comprehensive list in any fashion that you choose left me drooling at the thought & eager to install the game. As you would expect from any game with Microsoft's backing, the install is fluid & easy and it is not long before Relics professionalism shows through.
As in most strat. games, you will need resources to be able to accomplish anything, & in IC, they come in 2 flavours, Coal & Electricity. Lucy soon turns out to be a jack of all trades and is quite happy digging out the coal & erecting buildings while Rex is off exploring. You soon gain the use of henchmen to give poor old Lucy a rest though and it is not very long before the wonders of Sigma technology are revealed to Rex & the fun really starts.
Gameplay is smooth & neat. You get an initial cutscene & your flying lab sets down on the target island. You are then set your objectives for the scenario & its time to decide the best way to achieve them. Getting the 'economy' up & running is a must - no resources = no creatures = wipeout quickly. Initially, Lucy will be building & mining while Rex is off getting DNA samples from the creatures roaming the islands. As soon as the resources are available, you need to research differing stages of Sigma technology to develop better creatures, as well as other research & building improvements needed to keep one step ahead of your rival. The learning curve is set just right and it doesn't take too long to be running things like a complete pro.
The hybrids are created in one of three types of Creature Chamber (land, water & air) and you must have built both of the chambers needed to assemble your hybrid (if it is a cross strain one, i.e. air/water). Each creature costs a certain amount of resources to build, the more powerful, the more expensive. Groups of creatures can be selected & grouped in the usual ways, as well as assigned guard/patrol duties.
With such a vast choice of units, you would expect the battles to be on a gigantic, epic scale, but unfortunately, they all seem to be over very quickly, with a complete army easily being wiped out in a matter of seconds, rather than minutes. Because of this, gameplay can at times seem completely frenetic, a mad scramble to build, build, build just to avoid being overrun.
Overall, the game plays well, although experienced players will be left feeling a little 'flat' as there does not appear to be enough in the way of micromanagement to keep up the interest - it appears that just one little generator can run any amount of electrical/defensive structures. You are also left with the impression that things haven't been taken as far as they could - the ability to combine pairs of hybrid creatures etc for instance (but maybe that will come in an ICII).