Impossible Creatures

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a game by Microsoft
Platform: PC
Editor Rating: 8/10, based on 1 review, 2 reviews are shown
User Rating: 7.3/10 - 6 votes
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See also: RTS Games, Creatures Games
Impossible Creatures
Impossible Creatures
Impossible Creatures

Sometimes a great idea comes along, and you hope with all your heart that it's going to work. Impossible Creatures is one such idea. On the surface the concept is fantastic: genetically splice the most unlikely of creatures, come up with some outlandish creations, and then throw them into combat against other similarly modified mutants. What's more, it's an idea from Relic, the people who single-handedly revolutionised the space RTS genre with Homeworld. Sounds perfect doesn't it? Sounds like the sort of sandpit you could spend hours messing around in. Unfortunately it's just not.

Clean Up That Mess

The trouble with Impossible Creatures is that it is messy. Nearly every part of the game possesses some kind of niggly problem that eats away at your enjoyment.

We start with the obvious -the graphics. Despite the fact you can create a total of around 40,000 creature combinations, the majority of them look and act pretty much the same. Essentially, every creature whether it's a hybrid of a monkey, tiger, fish, wolf or whatever, is an animal-shaped blob with vaguely discernible legs. True, the flying units possess a little bit more in the way of individuality, but wings aside, as far as the player is concerned their entire army is nothing more than one heaving entity of flesh and fur.

Essentially the whole idea becomes pointless. All you need to do is churn out generalised unit types such as good close combat fighters, some kind of airborne unit, and effective long-range attackers, all combined, they are more than capable of taking you through the game.

Those hoping that Impossible Creatures would provide them with the chance to spend hours tinkering with DNA to find the perfect predator will be sorely disappointed. Quite simply, you will never find that dream.

Animal Instinct

So, when the novelty factor wears off what do we have? Well, we have nothing more than a basic RTS game. In fact, it's more basic than most. And is not a bad thing. Compared to the likes of American Conquest, IC is a breeze to get into.

The rudimentary resource management means you only have to worry about coal ' and electricity. The interface is easy enough to navigate your way around - even without going through the tutorial. The only real handling problem lies with the camera, which tends to jerk around and get stuck at the bottom of cliffs. Oddly we found that if you ignore the camera completely and just stick to the default view, it's a lot easier to see what's going on.

To its credit, Impossible Creatures is not short of options. Both the single-player skirmish mode and the multiplayer mode offer various difficulty settings, a reasonable selection of maps, eight different Al opponents, and the ability to import armies that you've previously built using the in-game creature editor. All in all, you can't help thinking that this is the perfect game for RTS beginners. The whole animal thing will certainly appeal to the under-tens anyway. Maybe that's what Relic had in mind all along. A word of warning though; don't venture anywhere near the full campaign unless you've reached a competent level - your opponents here are totally ruthless to say the least.

Willing But Not Able

You sense that even the humour is geared towards a less-discerning audience. The self-deprecating Hollywood B-movie script tries hard to provide a bit of light relief, and in fairness, the irreverent banter between the two main protagonists, Rex Chance and Lucy Willing, is at times worthy of a chuckle or two. But even that side of the game wears thin. It's a bit like watching a Leslie Nielson film - eventually you see every joke coming a mile off. There comes a point where you can't be bothered to laugh anymore, and that point is reached fairly quickly.

Overall, IC is a huge disappointment considering how long we've been waiting for it. This is by no means a despicable effort, but you get the impression the developer had simply had enough and just wanted the game out the door. Relic is capable of producing much better games, and we can only hope that when Homeworld 2 finally appears, we'll discover where all their time and effort has truly gone.

Download Impossible Creatures

PC

System requirements:

  • PC compatible
  • Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP

Game Reviews

With the flood of successful RTS games released last year, you have to wonder if there's anything left to accomplish in this genre. Although games like Warcraft III added a few unique gameplay options, you were still forced to collect resources, construct buildings, research, build units, and attack an enemy. This basic formula is repeated for every new game and becomes tedious quickly. Recognizing this problem, Microsoft has gone to great lengths to generate a unique experience with the release of Impossible Creatures and create distance from standard RTS games.

Impossible Creatures' main difference from other RTS games is focused around the unit creation. With approximately 50 animals to use and 6 aspects of each animal to combine, the total number of units possible is astounding. Different aspects from each animal can also have different attributes so the combination of the creature isn't done without purpose. For instance, when a cheetah is combined with an elephant, if the hind quarters of the cheetah are used the creature will be significantly faster then if the elephant's are used. Frankly, this odd approach to unit creation works well and practically sells the game by itself, but there are a few problems focused mainly around the balance of the units. The first concerns the specific abilities that can be exploited like regeneration or camouflage as some, like camouflage, are practically useless. Another concern is the fact that some units like the lobster are always selected for combination with another animal, as their traits are more appealing then most. A number of the units also have nothing of value to offer and are consequently rarely used. Even with these issues however, there is enough variety to overcome them and not distract or overly simplify the game.

The rest of the game plays similar to other RTS games with minor twists to resource collecting, research, and building construction. There was an attempt to lessen the more tedious aspects of this type of genre, but these areas of the game are still managed in classic RTS style. For instance, the resource collecting has been limited to electricity and coal with only the coal requiring constant gathering as the electricity is automatically generated from different structures. You still have to continually collect coal but at least you're not managing the collection of multiple resources.

As for the graphics and audio, both give solid performances. The graphics in particular look great and achieve realism critical to the success of this game. The audio however isn't as exciting with the main complaint focusing around the same phrases being repeated over and over while playing.

Impossible Creatures manages to take the worn out RTS genre and breath slightly more life into it. Although still requiring resource collection among other things, the concept of combining animals together to create units is innovative enough to overcome other stagnant RTS aspects.

Snapshots and Media

PC Screenshots

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