Game Reviews

Universe Pandemic

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First published: | Updated:

| Universe Pandemic
Universe Pandemic
| Universe Pandemic

Unless you're one of those sappy/genuinely decent people who think a global apocalypse is a bad taste topic for a game, the chances are you know the real thrill of titles like Platinum Award-winner Plague Inc lies in watching the ticker count of infected folk steadily grow to the magic 7 billion goal.

Somehow, the creators of Universe Pandemic don't know this and have cloned pretty much all of the core elements of this virus-spreading strategy genre except the part where you actually get to wipe people out.

It does have a neat intergalactic twist, with other planets and species to exterminate (although the gameplay difference is negligible at best), but no matter how you tweak and mutate your deadly bug it's unlikely that you'll concoct anything a Lemsip and a lie down won't cure.

Budget bug

In truth, despite looking a lot like its Pandemic 2 web-game inspiration in screenshots, Polygon Attraction's title is little more than a cheap copycat that struggles to even run without painful lag on the quad-core Nexus 7.

The world map that's typically the main visual draw in this strategy sub-genre, letting you watch planes and boats zipping across the globe carrying your deadly cargo, doesn't even move - although a light periodically flashes across it like an alien mothership playing with its high beam headlamps.

Meanwhile, the game premise is nearly identical to the original Pandemic 2, with nary a whiff of imagination. You pick a disease type - from viruses to bacterial infections and, most interestingly, nanobots, each with different resistance buffs and weaknesses - and then a country to infect.

Immediately, a small amount of the population catch the condition and, theoretically, start spreading the sneezy love. As more people get sick, you earn Virus Points to spend on adding new symptoms that help it spread faster, survive in temperate climates or just kill them really quickly.

That's the theory. In practice, the traits have vague effects that aren't helped by descriptions that don't tell you how they'll make the disease spread, and the first tier (of three) have precious little effect anyway.

Easy cure

Even if you go straight for the Tier 2 upgrades, like the good old pulmonary embolism, you're still unlikely to watch the infected ticker do anything but slowly trickle back to zero.

Despite trying every tactic that worked in the harder levels of Plague Inc. a, only a couple of times did I even get my disease to actually start spreading.

Without the reward of a growing body count, Universe Pandemic proves a wholly unsatisfying experience that, despite the budget price, can't hold a plague-ridden candle to its more refined contemporaries.

Universe Pandemic

A poorly programmed Pandemic-alike that, like its doomed-to-fail diseases, will never catch on with apocalypse-addicted gamers
Paul Devlin
Paul Devlin
A newspaper reporter turned games journo, Paul's first ever console was an original white Game Boy (still in working order, albeit with a yellowing tinge and 30 second battery life). Now he writes about Android with a style positively dripping in Honeycomb, stuffed with Gingerbread and coated with Froyo