A couple of big things happened last week. I covered one in my last post (which actually postponed this one), but the other one was the release of Pandemic for the iPad. Pandemic is, of course, my favorite game, so I purchased it immediately and have played a dozen or two games of it already. So here’s my take on it…
First and most importantly of all, the app is totally the same experience as the boardgame. Gameplay is identical, you have the same choices for setup and difficulty, it uses the same artwork, and it just feels the same as playing it in person. One of the cool things about its appearance is that the disease cubes in a city sort of orbit around it, and as more cubes are added, they orbit faster and faster, eventually also gaining a reddish background when it contains 3 cubes. So even though it’s just a digital game (that often feels less “real” to me), the building energy of the orbiting cubes and intense music does a good job to build tension at least rivaling the real game.
The implementation is very nice and simple to use as well. I really like that you have the choices for the different actions you can use in sort of a central menu at the bottom of the screen, but you also have the option of doing things like double-tapping directly on a city to move there or treat disease cubes if you’re already in that city. Most importantly, the #1 thing that helps gameplay is the glorious UNDO button! So right up until you move on to the card draw phase, you can rethink, undo, and replay out your turn if you come up with a better way to do it.
The main thing that the game needs to make it better is to hurry up with the expansions! I still enjoy playing the base game quite a bit, but it adds in so much to have the options for the mutation, virulent strain, and “In the Lab” challenges to mix things up from game to game. Plus, the extra roles and special events add in a lot of variability from game to game.
The other little thing I’d like to have in the interface is a way to see your history. Just some simple statistics about wins vs. losses, which roles and combinations you’ve used, and how you’ve done for the different difficulty levels. I can’t imagine that would be hard to do, and it’d be cool to analyze the game a little deeper.
Finally, I’d also like to see some sort of online play. Now, I figure that the vast majority of plays for the app would be either as a solo game or pass-and-play between a couple of people, but Pandemic is popular enough that I’d be interested to see how it could work in a real-time or asynchronous play mode. O f course, there would be some real challenges involved in building in some sort of communication between players, since it is a game all about cooperation.
Overall, I am very pleased and excited about the Pandemic app, and would recommend it to absolutely anyone at all interested in the actual game or cooperative games in general or who like to have fun or are just trying to live as a functional human being. F2Z Digital Media did a really great job with it as their first project, and I’m excited to see where it will go from here!