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Review by: Jordan Thomas
Published: December 7, 1997
Your computer, that unassuming beige testament to addiction and entertainment, has become a grim battleground. The Virus has made its assault, and all your precious system files have become potential victims. One by one, the most integral parts of your hard drive are over-run. If only there were something you could do. If you could rush about the hallowed digital halls, and eliminate the viral code yourself, then at least your system would have a fighting chance. Viruses are irritating, confounding, and they can destroy months of work if you are not prepared to fight them off. Wouldn’t it be great to fight them face to face?
Virus: The Game was intended to grant that wish. The game analyzes your system shell, and builds level maps according to the data it finds there. You are given the opportunity to fly through your hard drive, and eliminate each malignant extension of the invading virus. The directory structures make up the layout of your battlezone, and the halls are wallpapered with your very own image files. With an array of weaponry and vehicles at your control, this combination of action and strategy elements should be great, right?
Not in the least. The concept is an original one, and I can distinctly remember blathering to some friends a couple of years ago about how oh-so-very-cool it would be if someone wrote a game that allowed you to explore your own system, dynamically generated. Whoever thought up Virus had their head in the right information district. If only the development had been decent. Unfortunately, this entire product speaks of shoddy, mediocre workmanship, and what was a killer design concept has been given the horrible visage of poor implementation.
Installation of the game is relatively simple, with the one aggravating exception that it seems to assume that the target user does not already have DirectX 5. The language with which this particular stage is written just tells you that you’re going to have to let it install DX5, regardless. You can, however, cancel out of the procedure, blessedly. When the game runs, it performs an infuriating resolution switch of your actual desktop. If you run at a high resolution, this means your icon collection goes communal, and all the icons beyond the 640×480 boundary lie on top of each other. Argh. At about this point, I was starting to wonder if the virus they advertised was only a game idea.
When the game began, I realized that I was going to need some training, so I took on the tutorial mission. A small dialogue box popped up, and informed me that to learn of my mission goals, I was going to have to refer to the game’s manual. What is this, some kind of cruel and unusual copy protection? I’m sorry, but that kind of annoyance is unacceptable. Anyway, to make a long story short, I figured out the game’s controls, which brings the misery-borne virus yet a step further: the only means of controlling this title is with the keyboard. I think we left this sort of thing behind with Wolfenstein 3d, didn’t we? No joystick. No mouse. What?
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