[Note: This article was quoted in the Maxis, Inc. product catalog.]
Unnatural Selection by Maxis
by Mariva H. Aviram
December 20, 1993
well known for its SimCity games, has unleashed a DOS simulation
game of a different breed. Unnatural Selection focuses on genetic
engineering, letting you design and breed creatures in a militaristic
In the Maxis tradition of unique scientific experimentation
with powerful user control over variables, the Unnatural Selection
genetic breeding lab is equipped with a sophisticated computer
called DigiLife AL-2000, which aids you in creating the monsters
of war. These creatures, called Theroids, are not particularly
intelligent but are strong, fast, and violent. There are three
types of Theroids: Zips, which are fast; Slugs, which slime
around displaying their endurance and stamina; and Hulks, which
are very strong and, as you might guess, green in color.
You breed and raise these Theroids in the experimental breeding
lab, controlling their physical attributes, fighting behavior,
and mating urges. In addition, environmental settings, such
as amount and type of food, level of genetic mutation permitted,
and available cage space, give you even more control over the
lab. The laboratory has a science fiction feel to it with its
plethora of buttons, dials, tubes, and other devices, most of
which provide information in a female voice.
As in most Maxis games, the main menu provides two choices:
experimental mode and actual game playing. You can breed strong
creatures in the experimental mode by eliminating weaker and
virus-infected Theroids. The engineered creatures are saved
in a file and later included in a game.
The game mode first displays a limited movie of the game's
premise. A cast of characters, plot, and both written and verbal
material reveal the tired futuristic war story: How can we get
rid of mistakenly bred creatures by using other genetically
superior engineered creatures? The unwanted creatures have been
left on an island (of your choosing), and you must conquer the
existing dangerous creatures with similarly dangerous creatures
of your own making.
Different views let you display the beasts -- by looking down
into their pens and up close at their faces. The screen animation
that shows the close-up views of the creatures is amusing and
Although I was warned about the violence of this game, the
Theroids are so colorful, noisy, and silly looking that I couldn't
take them seriously even when they were ripping each other's
heads off. Such movies as Jurassic Park seem much more horrifying
than the antics of these cartoonish beasts.
You may feel quite powerful while controlling this gadget infested
lab, but the game gets old rather quickly. With so many controls
and variables, Unnatural Selection is also confusing to figure
out. The users' manual is only somewhat helpful. In an effort
to be sharp and witty, Maxis left out a few important details.
Personally, I find the premise of genetically engineered warfare
disturbing. However, Unnatural Selection ($49.95) will have
great appeal for those who have always wanted to play the part
of a mad scientist.
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