When I first saw the Impossible Creatures box I wasn't quite sure what to make of it. Sure, I knew about it, it wouldn't bode well if I didn't know about the game but I did have some visions before reviewing this of what it might include....
I must say that I was nowhere near the truth. I thought the game would be a little like Sim Life. For those who don't know what Sim Life is here is a quick explaination. Basically you build creatures out of 3 parts, the head, body and tail. The tail defines the sex of the animal and how it reproduces, the body defines how it lives in the environment, for example whether it flys, lives underground, etc. and the head defines what it eats.
I didn't expect it to be exactly the same, just thought it would handle the creatures in the same way. Boy was I wrong!
In Impossible Creatures you assume the role of Rex Chance, a reporter in search of his long lost father, who has recently contacted him and asked him to join him on a long chain of islands where he has been working.
Eager to meet his father Rex makes his way to the islands only to discover what his father was working on: hybrid creatures created from 2 animals to make one more powerful one using a technology called Sigma. You then meet Upton Julius, the man your father worked for and the man who is now intent on killing you.
Obviously the main selling point of the game is the ability to take over 50 base animals and using the sigma technology combine one with another to make the creatures you will fight Upton with.
The base creatures are all real-world animals, which we all should know about. They come in various sizes and have varying abilities including flying, swimming and digging. The animals come in various sizes, which will ultimately decide on the size of your creature. Animals range from the huge Sperm Whale to the tiny Ant.
While creating your creatures you have to choose from a number of parts from each animal. These are the head, front and back legs, torso and tail. Deciding what animal and what part to use will depend upon whether you want your creature to have a good ranged attack or be good in melee combat. Each animal may also contribute to a special attack, which can be used on the enemy, but in many circumstances this will also affect your own creatures.
The major problem with the ability to create so many varied creatures is that invariably you are not going to use most of them, instead favouring the toughest ones you can create.
In the campaign mode of the game you are taken through a quick tutorial and introduced to the various on-screen menus and the control panel. You are also introduced to some of the animals and shown how you can combine 2 animals and tweak them to create a more powerful creature.
You are also introduced to your sidekick, Doctor Lucy Willing, who helps you defeat Upton Julius and also helps you move about the islands in her flying steam train engine. Lucy is also the one who examines new buildings allowing you to build them yourself.
The graphics are really well done, although the models aren't greatly detailed and I think everything could have moved just as smoothly if the models were more detailed. The problem with the lack of details is that you can't tell the difference between your creatures, as most of your time you'll be hovering over them trying to see what creature it is.
While the models may not be very detailed the rest of the game (menus and images) are nicely done and easy to read. There isn't much to fault there.
The sounds are definitely a good point, everything sounds great, the creatures each have their own sounds depending on what parts are used, the only problem, which is a problem in all strategy games is that you will hear many sounds time and time again. Sounds like 'your creatures are under attack' and 'Rex is under attack' can and will get annoying after a while, especially if you initiated the combat.
The definite plus point of the game is the variety of creatures you can make but no matter how varied the creatures are, the battles are not as great as they could be. Battles are usually decided by a superior number of creatures and who can get replacements into battle the quickest.
Overall the game is good. The number of units you can make is definitely the main reason you will come back to the game but most of the time will be spent on the creature creation screen trying to see what the various animals look like when combined.