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Genre: Strategy & War
Min OS X: 10.2    CPU: G3 @ 700 MHz    RAM: 128 MB    Hard Disk: 40 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space
June 16, 2006 | Michael Scarpelli

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The universe. Vast. Shiny. Flat.
I can only assume that I have managed to unwittingly stumble across a plot by Tuncer and Ian, Masters of the IMG universe, to take over the world, dispensing their wisdom and justice in equal measure to all peoples. I must have somehow discovered their plans for global invasion because why else would I continually be asked to review games that come with built-in hordes of faithful gamers who will swear by their excellence?

My gauntlet to pass this time is Weird Worlds: Return to Infinite Space, the sequel to Strange Adventures in Infinite Space, both created by Digital Eel and published by Shrapnel Games. Like its predecessor, Weird Worlds is quest-based adventure gaming with a real pulp sci-fi feel to it.

It's Your World
In Weird Worlds, the gamer sets up their game universe with a number of options. How many years will the mission last? How many tricky-to-navigate nebulae will occupy space? How strong will enemies be? What kind of adventurer will you be: Pirate, Scientist, or Scout?

One of the strengths of Weird Worlds is the way it allows the gamer to play the game that they want to play. From the basic customization options above, to the varied display settings the game allows the gamer to make use of, to the way gameplay is actually conducted, the experience is what you make it.

Part of the way Digital Eel keeps this feel alive is by placing few restraints on the gamer and by scoring them in a number of different ways on each adventure taken. Very loose directives are given to the gamer at the start of their quests. Science officers are told to try to find as many new species, planets and phenomena as possible. Pirates are charged with amassing wealth. The Scout class is charged with meeting alien races and grabbing technologies and determining military usefulness.

However, in each path, the gamer is not ever prevented from going where they want and doing what they want. Sure, it may be more difficult to rage across the universe, destroying all enemies as a Science officer, but it can be done. Similarly, pirates can choose to wander space looking for alien races. However, at the end of the journey, certain behaviors will earn the gamer more points depending on their class at the start.

Gamers are scored on Ships (allies flying with you), Exploration, Diplomacy, Lifeforms, Artifacts, Technology, and a catch-all Bonus category. As each mission has a time-limit, the earlier the gamer finishes, the more money they've saved their employer (and the more points they are awarded). The later they are, the higher the penalty. The score the gamer manages to achieve in the end will determine the life they'll lead after the adventure is over and alters the ending text for the game.


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