Few Flash games have risen to such heights that they've spawned memes. Pandemic II, however, has not only generated a meme, it's generated one that's popular enough to bring about recognition even if someone hasn't played the game. That's quite a feat.
Oh, and, yeah, the game itself is pretty good too. But the meme! The meme!
Unlike most games, Pandemic II actually gives you the role of the aggressor. You are a virus (or bacteria, or parasite, your choice), hell-bent on infecting the world and bringing the human race to its knees. You can evolve, you can spread, and you're ready to cause some trouble.
In essence, then, Pandemic II is a simulation. You are a sickness that's trying to overcome the natural and medical defenses of mankind in an effort to wipe every last person from the face of the map. You do this by slowly evolving your disease to include new symptoms and immunities that will allow it to spread to every country. Do so too quickly or improperly, however, and the governments of the world will take measures to stop the spread, including a vaccine that can bring an immature halt to your pandemic.
Yeah. Cheery concept, eh?
You use a mouse to navigate menus. 'nough said.
Pandemic II sports a relatively basic map of the world and a few menus for evolving your disease and checking up on humanity's progress. Nothing to gawk over, though it gets the job done.
Pandemic II is all about a single music track that's straight out of any number of medical alert movies. It gets pretty irritating after a dozen repetitions.
Thought this was gonna be a short review, eh? Here's all the meat.
Pandemic II is a difficult game. It's not difficult to spread your disease to MOST of the world, despite humanity's stopgap measures - it's just getting to one country in PARTICULAR that's tricky. It's this country that spawned the successful Internet meme in the first place:
Madagascar is your real foe in Pandemic II. True, some other countries can shut their borders and kill an otherwise successful game, but most of the time, it's Madagascar that will hit you first. The damn place has no bordering countries, being an island, and it only has a port that allows for infection - and once that port closes down, it's game over. You can't win. You might as well shut your browser and play something else if you see the above picture.
Consequently, Pandemic II is a frustrating experience. It's fun as hell, sure, and you can still go on to enjoy wiping out the rest of humanity, like so:
But you'll always have to live with that one little dot of green on an otherwise orange-red planet. Sigh.
The problem of Madagascar is a bit of a game breaker for me in that you're more or less forced to pick parasites as your starter of choice if you want to succeed. Viruses and bacteria spread too quickly and too openly to prove viable choices, leaving only the meticulous parasites to break through to Madagascar - and even they have a hell of a time. And the worst part is, the spread of your disease is a little luck-based dependent on where you start, so you may be doomed at the beginning of some sessions.
Give Madagascar a damned airport.
Otherwise, fun game.
PLAY PANDEMIC II