Preview - take a trip to inner space with this unusual shooter set inside a human body
Bacteria is certainly one of the more unusual games we have come across recently, putting you in control of a deep sea submarine which has been shrunken to microscopic size and injected into a dying scientist in a last ditch attempt to save his life from a mysterious disease.
If this all sounds strangely familiar, it's probably because it bears more than a passing resemblace to the storyline of sci-fi movies like Innerspace and Fantastic Voyage. But with more guns. And explosions. Lots of big, juicy explosions.
One of Bacteria's strongpoints is undoubtedly its graphics, from the murky red backdrop of the scientist's veins and the floating platelets and blood cells within, to the impressive particle-driven weapon effects and the spectacular explosions they produce when your shots find their target.
The bacteria themselves are nicely detailed and suitably outlandish, with thirty different species ranging from crab-like organisms and flatworms that slowly ripple their way through the blood stream to what looks suspiciously like a turtle. They also fight back, squirting acid at your submarine, firing projectiles, or simply swimming straight towards you and then tearing at your vessel with their claws. This is essentially a space combat sim transplanted into the human body, with raw red flesh replacing the stars and nebulae, and freakish microbes standing in for alien spaceships.
The controls take a little getting used to, because until you fire a burst from your engines your submarine will continue floating along in a straight line, regardless of which direction your craft is actually facing in. In fact it works a little like classic arcade game Asteroids but in three dimensions, and once you have got to grips with this system it can be rewarding, allowing you to keep firing at your enemy as they drift by and making a welcome change from the usual intertia-defying antics of the Wing Commander and Freespace games.
There is a quick play arcade mode to get you straight into the action without any messing around, facing you with wave after wave of hostile microbes to destroy, but the heart of the game [you're fired - Ed.] is a fifty mission campaign that takes you through the body in search of the offending viruses.
The focus is very much on good old fashioned gameplay though, with fast-paced action and plenty of big bangs to enjoy, so even in the campaign mode most of the missions will most likely boil down to making your way from one waypoint to the next, killing any bacteria you spot along the way. Luckily the combat is entertaining, the graphics spectacular, and the setting unique. Certainly we've enjoyed what we've seen of the game so far, and as long as you aren't expecting anything too sophisticated it should keep you amused for a while.
Bacteria will be available via online sales some time next month, and with a €19.95 price tag ($19.95 for Americans) it won't break the bank either. If you want to get a taste of the action yourself in the meantime, you can grab a 52Mb playable demo from publisher Net-Games.