Life Simulator reviewed
A thousand years ago the creatures of Shee fled their world of Albia in a gigantic spaceship, in search of a new home. An evil race called the Grendels took it upon themselves to scupper those plans though, and attacked the spaceship.
The ship was rendered useless, and the Grendels toddled off to the planet surface to set up home on their new planet. Unfortunately this left the ship's remaining occupants, the Norns, on their own, to survive or perish.
They are not entirely alone though - you're there to keep them company. You must help them through this torrid time, nurturing the newly born, educating them, and allowing them to flourish on their own.
Watch out for the Grendels though, as some were left behind!
Creatures 3 is a 'life simulator', giving the player complete control over the Norn's future prosperity, or their gruesome demise...
The game world is split into five different environments (terrariums), each with their own ecology. These terrariums are fairly large, and you will need to scroll the screen around to view other regions.
You can choose to begin the game with two fully-grown adult Norns, fully educated and ready to breed, or you can start with two eggs, which you will need to hatch.
Control of the Norns is limited to simply right clicking them and then dragging them where you want to go. You can also pick up and use other objects though, including weird and wonderful contraptions which are strewn throughout the game world and which will aid your breeding efforts.
Grendels And Ettins
Whilst you are busy raising yourself a little Norn empire, there are other creatures inhabiting the terrariums who are hell-bent on stopping you though.
Grendels are an evil race. They are considered a great mistake of the Shee, created purely by accident. Carrying disease and stealing Norn eggs are some of their favourite pastimes. Their main source of satisfaction though is outright violence, hunting the Norn being an important part of that!
Ettins on the other hand are a peaceful bunch. Don't let those seemingly innocent big eyes lull you into a false sense of security though - they like to steal, and they will often take important things that are essential to your breeding program.
So, if you have painstakingly set up some machinery to do a job, and you come back to find something vital missing, head on over to the Ettin terrarium - it will nearly always be there!
Creatures 3 opens up with a nice little video telling the story so far, and then you are dumped to the options screen where you can load or create a new game.
But once you are dropped into the game the problems start... The background graphics representing the terrariums are nice enough, but the animation of the Norns and other characters is rather poor. I thought the days of four frame animations were gone, but it appears not.
Forgiving this and foraging on, you soon come to realise that this is only the tip of the iceberg. Far too many times the characters get on top of each other, making it impossible to click a lift switch or to select a specific character.
The scrolling of the terrarium is also very clumsy, and it is often a real pain to focus on something you specifically want.
Sound Me Out Man!
Ooh boy! Graphical woes are nothing compared to the insane sound that accompanies it all!
Okay, I know these are cutesy little creatures that you are nurturing, but we can surely do without the completely infantile garbage that pours uncontrollably from their furry gobs? I can understand the need for the young Norns to sound like babies, but the adults too?!
And if this isn't bad enough, the music running alongside is enough to drive you up the wall. It sounds rather like the sort of stuff aromatherapists use, which is supposed to calm and lift your spirit.
About the only spirit I could lift to this was good ole Jack Daniels, and plenty of it!
The idea behind the game isn't exactly original, but the blurb on the back of the box for Creatures 3 tickles the curiosity. The box is about the main attraction for me though!
With very average background graphics and laughably poor character animation, this isn't even a treat for the eyes. Couple this with the horribly irritating audio, and any chance of a decent game coming out of all this are pretty much gone.
I'm disappointed to say the least, after hearing positive previews and vibrant news articles about the game. The final product simply fails to deliver though.
I found vaporising the Norns into outer space to be the sole source of entertainment here. Whether that's just because I'm sadistic, I'll leave up to you to decide...