Monday, February 1, 2016

All This In Service Of Biology Humor

Being something of a fan of RTS games despite being terrible at them, I was delighted when Impossible Creatures became available on, but being a little short on money at the moment, my sister and I decided to hold off and see if there'd be a sale. There recently was, and so I've now poked at the game a bit.

The main feature of the game involves using mad science to make chimeric abominations unto nature (in a 1930s-ish setting where the factions are fighting over some remote South Pacific islands, which I must say is an inspired choice), and happily, the "mad science" theme extends to the fact that your builder units are called henchmen and have voiceovers indicating they're probably big and a touch dim, though they're also clearly quite skilled craftsmen and excellent swimmers.

The henchmen, actually, are one of my two single favorite first impressions from the actual scenario-based gameplay (I honestly wanted the game for the animal mixing tool, but that's not quite part of regular gameplay). More on the other in a moment.

You can upgrade the henchmen to get better at certain things, and when you upgrade them to be better at harvesting coal (the game's more limited resource), this is represented by them having little carry-yoke backpacks; sending a bunch of them off mining rather puts me in mind of a certain Disney musical number.

Also, you can build a gyrocopter and have a henchman pilot it; he can still build while piloting it and oh my gosh is it hilarious.

I mentioned that I had another first impression that stuck out. Said impression involves a startlingly effective strategy, at least in late game scenarios: LOBSTERS.

These beauties may not look like properly hybridized animals, but they are hybrids (all buildable animal units fundamentally are), and that's where they get their impressive size. The other species? Sperm whales. (Moose also match fairly well with lobsters, though the whales work a lot better.)

This ultimately came from trying to create the strongest possible late game gargantuans to send out; I was fiddling around with all possible arrangements of a sperm whale/lobster combination to try to make the strongest possible artillery*, and found that just using the combination to make a giant lobster was 1) cheaper than using any actual sperm whale components while actually making the resulting creature more durable, and 2) a big group of big frigging lobsters was nearly impossible to kill because lobsters regenerate. Add that to the fact that lobsters also are better at wrecking buildings than average, and we have a creature that's surprisingly cost-effective and horrifyingly powerful**.

So oddly enough, it seems like Impossible Creatures has its own counterpart to carcinization.

*Actually, if I'm being honest, I started with making a whole bunch of different lobster hybrids that were actually just huge lobsters as a gag for my own amusement, and then the AI I gave them to steamrollered the entire map, and did this despite another AI repeatedly invading and severely damaging its base while it was distracted finishing another opponent. I admit, when I realized how effective the lobsters were I blew my own base up partly out of frustration and partly to have the opportunity to watch the carnage.

**This information prompted my sister to joke that if a mad scientist starts playing around with altering lobsters, that's when you start worrying. Oddly enough, I'm not entirely sure that's actually a silly thought; as far as we know lobsters have comparable lifespans to healthy modern humans and could live longer in ideal conditions and can grow throughout their entire lives.

-Signing off.

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