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Impossible Creatures

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Due early 2003 for PC.

5.jpg (6220 bytes)Anyone remember the old T-shirts that read, "It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog." Or how about that old saying that circulated through high school a few years back, "Never monkey with another monkey’s monkey." Impossible Creatures, under development by Relic Entertainment, brings all sorts of odd animal analogies to mind, and may even have you singing old Elvis Presley songs like, "You ain’t nothing but a hound dog." Whatever odd thing it does to your brain, Impossible Creatures is one of those games that re-writes real time strategy tactics as we know them. Tanks? Airplanes? Such things are children’s toys. Impossible Creatures hits the shelves with nearly 4200 unique units under its belt, all with different characteristics with which to tear an enemy to shreds. And the inspiration behind it all? The animal kingdom.

6.jpg (6241 bytes)Taking place in the 1930s, Impossible Creatures is set over a series of islands where you and an evil villain vie for the fate of, what else, the world. On this isolated area of Earth (which includes 4 different environments), you and your enemy will battle it out using creatures that you’ve genetically patch-worked together from the pieces and parts of the world’s most deadly animals and insects. Want a fast unit? Throw in the legs of a Cheetah. Need to do some damage? Add the head of a bear, maybe. An ant and an electric eel will yield a shock attack that burrows. By combining the various parts of any two of the 50 animals in the game, the player can produce an outrageous number of units with individual abilities. Some fly, some dig. Some sting. What results is a real time strategy game full of the weirdest monsters imaginable, a universe that would fit right into Wonderland, except that they would dominate the food chain.

7.jpg (6474 bytes)"There are about 4,200 possible units," says the lead developer as he shows off his brainchild on the E3 floor, "Probably about 2000 that are completely unique." Focused on action more than micromanagement, you won’t see all of them showing up in each battle. Instead, the player has a chance to build which units they want to use before launching into combat. The only catch? The more powerful the unit, the more it’s going cost you to build on the battlefield; there’s also a technology tree, of sorts. You can’t build the biggest creatures from the get go. You have to build your base, defend your resources (coal and electricity), and work your way up the ladder to the scorpion-tail equipped elephants. Don’t worry, though, most games should last under an hour.

12.jpg (6600 bytes)Single player aside, Impossible Creatures will really shine in multi-player carnage. Gone will be the days of simple mass production (maybe). Playing against another human should bring an entirely new flavor to the game, since each will be accompanied by his or her own unique set of super monsters. Shipping with more than 20 multiplayer maps, and the ability to play with up to 5 other people at a time, Impossible Creatures will breed, if you will, a new strain of real time combatants.

4.jpg (6918 bytes)If Impossible Creatures pulls it off, the imagination allows for a huge variety of additions that may come down the road. For now we’re limited (if you care to call it that) to the real and living animal kingdom, and only 50 of them at that. With millions of documented species on the planet, not counting those that have gone extinct and could theoretically make a reappearance in future iterations of Impossible Creatures, there is a tremendous amount of room for expansion.

"The dragonfly," the developer replies when I ask him what his favorite creature is so far. "It looks pretty funky with just about anything." Impossible Creatures is aimed to hit shelves in early 2003.

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Aaron Stanton (05/29/2002)