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Evolva

by Tristinian.

Take the 3rd person shooter genre, add a team element, throw in a brand new concept and weird pastel-colored environments and what you get is the game known as Evolva. Does this sound enticing? Well, try reading on...

Here is a lovely scene where you get to absorb the 'meat' of your dead foes. Funny, you have to beat the hell out of them to get your genes, but note that the genes gently 'twinkle' into your body to signify the happy ending of the battle, which is-be glad it wasn't you.

The game starts you off with some nice cinematics (not breathtaking, but nice) as you are guided through a throwaway plot-intro that has you playing as four geno-hunters on a planet, trying to rid it of its parasite growth. The catch is, as you roam around in your little blob-shaped bodies, you also have an ability to mutate that you must learn to use to your advantage. As you destroy your enemies and batter their bodies into a bloody pulp, you, (the geno-hunter) get to absorb the genes of your fallen enemies. You must use these genes to add the enemy's skills to your own by mutating up to 10 times per full mutation bar (which gets bigger the more you kill and maim). Mutations will vary depending on which beasts you have killed and how many-and yes, the choices you make on mutation will almost always depend on your environment and foes-how Darwinian...well, kinda.

As you move through the game however, two things become apparent. First, the environments just never seem to change that much-it is just the same thing over and over again a lot of the time. It is not that the graphics are poor-they are decent enough-but for some reason, you feel that a little more innovation could have gone into the design of some of the environments. Needless to say, it is disappointing when clearly 2D, motionless pools of lava are emanating sounds of bubbling and boiling when they are obviously not. But with the topic turned to innovation, let's discuss the second point.
The concept behind the game (the mutating, the genes, the ever changing abilities of your character) seem to fall short of expectations. To be perfectly honest, by the time one reaches the 5th or 6th level, it begins to feel kind of like a four-man version of 'alien Mega Man'. You earn genes after getting so far in the game and thusly get a new gene for your work which you can use to continue your quest. Lovely. The mutation concept is nice from a distance, but it seems terribly obvious that not enough was done with it once you get up-close and personal with the game. That goes for the physical changes that take place to the characters after mutations as well-they are just generally unimpressive. I suppose i would expect to have the texture of my body change to something shell-like if i acquired the 'armor' gene from a shell creature, but that's not what happens. Sometimes mutations merely seem to result in a change in color-kind of un-inventive in my humble opinion.

Let's discuss the positives of this game though...

The game attempts to try something new, which is a positive in itself. So many games try and stick with the same formula and this one doesn't. Evolva certainly has what i would call a 'euro-feel' to it. When i say that i refer to the interesting and seemingly un-North American look of a game...something that makes it unconventional compared to other games in the genre. Not sure what i mean? Don't worry, i don't think i do either.

Ever been bombarded by beetles with guns on their backs? You get to try that on for size in Evolva's 3rd level.


Another positive though is the music-they actually do a decent job of making the music fitting for the environments in the game-although it does get repetitive quickly. Plus, if you like sharp zigs and zags in the learning curve to keep you on your toes, Evolva provides this as well. For example, the first 2 levels seem pretty elementary, but completing the 3rd is a daunting task in comparison even to the level that follows it. This might be frustrating for some, but in the end, the gratification received can often be worth it.

Gameplay is more than easy to pick up, but this game's flaws are easy to spot. There are far too many times when one questions innovation in a title that is supposed to be brimming with it. Creatures become repetitive-some of them far too modernesque such as the gun-toting beetles. And the Geno-hunters themselves appear to be nothing more than oddly shaped humanoids covered in melted multicolored paintballs that don't seem to truly give that feeling of 'evolving' as they progress through their mutations.

In other words, Evolva ironically feels like an un-evolved version of what it should have become. It carries a fun factor for a short period of time as you initially mess around with the concept at hand, but because too little was done with that concept, disappointment ensues and this game just doesn't seem fit enough to survive (*cough cough*, ok enough Darwin jokes-right?). But, if you are bored during this current game drought we are in, Evolva might not be the worst purchase to make if the price is right. The game is certainly a step in the right direction and that is basically the ONLY thing that earns it the mark given...keep that in mind.


FINAL MARK

a somewhat new concept is introduced in gaming

the concept becomes more like a Mega Man game at times

without the inclusion of the 'evolving' concept, this game is nothing.

70%