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Multiwinia: Survival of the Flattest

As far as RTS games go, you’d have thought at this stage we’d seen every setting imaginable. Historical empires, mythology, WW2, and the far-away future have all been covered in the genre, even specific game franchises have had their own RTS makeover.

Multiwinia however, unlike its competitors, isn’t attempting to trick us into believing we’re in the real world. The game’s setting is purely digital; a world of polygons within a computer, created long ago by a computer scientist known as Dr Sepulveda. His digital world is inhabited by a race known as the Multiwinians. They are two dimensional virtual stick-men who are organised into factions and pitted against each other in a variety of different modes, from the imaginative Rocket Riot, which involves powering up and boarding a rocket, to the more familiar Domination, a straight forward battle to wipe out the opposition.

The distinct setting makes the game all the more engaging and the retro visuals suit it perfectly. In a world of near realism and detail, Multiwinia stands out from the crowd with its square-looking, yet awe inspiringly beautiful, block-coloured world.Simplicity is evident throughout the game and, although the modes vary in their complexity, it’s still easy to understand the basics. There’s no minimap in the corner of the screen, no heads up display to distract you from the action, just a cursor and hoards of Multiwinians at your disposal.

As the title suggests, Multiwinia is geared towards online multiplayer and while you won’t find a lengthy campaign experience, there’s an abundance of frantic multiplayer fun instead. Whether you’re playing online or offline, matches are guaranteed to play out differently every time due to the game’s use of crates: not your average destructible wooden crate, but a digital version which drops gracefully from the sky and can grant you either an awesome power (like a meteor to unleash destruction on a rival, eggs that hatch into monsters, flame turrets) or, worryingly, something bad…It’s the ‘something bad’ that can be described as Mutiwinia’s ‘Marmite’. You’re either going to love it or hate it, but on occasion you could be winning due to good strategy, only to lose hundreds of your Multiwinians’ to a virus, which rapidly spreads across the population and can cause the downfall of your faction. Equally the same misfortune can happen to your rivals, but no matter how you feel about the luck aspect of the crates, it’s easily addressable. There’s an option to increase or decrease the frequency of crate drops and also to drop crates nearer to the players in last place. This setting keeps the game tight, exciting and balanced for every player. Alternatively crates can be turned off entirely, but that means you’ll miss out on some amazing sights: there really is nothing like watching a gigantic UFO cast a shadow across the land, and start beaming up Multiwinians en-mass for conversion into a brand new race, and a new opponent.

Multiwinia instils pure fun and simplicity into the RTS genre; rather than the typical, menial process of gathering resources and building defences, you can leap straight into battle and the map will be filled with action in no time. Like its predecessor, Darwinia, Multiwinia has maintained some action elements to become a hybrid of genres. There are still units you can move around and shoot ‘manually’ with by clicking the mouse, as well as turrets you can personally control. However, the random chaos introduced by the crates won’t appeal to everyone (no-one wants to receive a potential to quickly die as a result of seeking crates), but it’s hard not to love something so different and refreshing from the norm.

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