Wednesday, February 21, 2007
Virtual Villagers - The Lost Children
Virtual Villagers - The Lost Children Finally! It on sale! Continue the epic story of the castaways of Isola in Virtual Villagers: The Lost Children. Guide your tribe as they rescue a group of lost children and help them survive new adventures. Your villagers need to become farmers, builders, scientists, healers and parents, and will make decisions about unpredictable "Island Events" that happen from time to time. Lead your villagers as they solve all new puzzles and hidden mysteries of the west shores of the island. Will your tribe survive? Continuing the story, Virtual Villagers: The Lost Children beckons for a return to that beautiful Pacific isle. On our first visit, the castaways explored every nook and cranny of their south beach getaway, eventually moving an immense stone blocking a mysterious cave. Your task is to help them survive, teaching them to become farmers, builders, scientists, healers and, eventually, parents themselves. As with Virtual Villagers, The Lost Children offers a persistent world. Even when you're not watching them, your islanders continue their daily activities of eating, drinking, fishing, planting crops, gathering food, building and repairing structures, doing laundry, making babies, and eventually expiring. Take a break and return a few hours later, and you'll find your villagers have been busy. Some will have improved their skills, others will have given birth and a few may have kicked the bucket. They may have depleted their food supply, as well. Thus, it's best not to leave them unattended too long. Not everything, however, is the same. Some technologies have been replaced by others. For instance, Farming, Medicine and Science are intact, but Engineering, Exploration and Culture supplant Construction, Fertility and Spirituality. As for skills, Parenting has replaced Breeding. And, while you still have 16 puzzles to solve, they differ on the west of Isola. New features are prevalent, too. Children now resemble their parents and do more than gather mushrooms. They acquire collectables -- Butterflies, Shells, Beetles and Pebbles. New events randomly occur, islanders visually age, various stews can be concocted and illnesses are treatable in a tropical hospital. Play mechanics remain status quo. For a quick description, click on an inhabitant and their name, skill and current action are displayed. For additional stats, the Details screen lists age, gender, health, likes and dislikes, if they're nursing a child, and their skill progress in Farming, Building, Research, Healing and/or Parenting. Influencing the behavior of your villagers is easily handled via the mouse. For instance, to teach one to fish, pick them up and drop them in the ocean. It may take a few tries, but eventually it will "sink" in. In like fashion, to instruct them how to build, simply deposit them onto a hut or other structure. Plunking them down at the research table will cajole them into researching. All skills, including procreation, work in the same fashion. However, on occasion one of your little village people just won't cooperate. In this instance, see if you can find a skill that suits them better. Also, don't expect immediate results. Even running at double speed (options are Paused, 1/2 Speed, Normal and 2x Speed), growing your village takes time. Frequently, to accomplish one task, your little proteges will need to complete another first, or your tribe may need to advance a level or two in one or more technologies. So, be patient. Check regularly to see how they're faring, but take advantage of the relaxed play-style. Invest your time elsewhere (even playing another game) while your villagers go about their lives. Virtual Villagers: The Lost Children is as addictive and enjoyable strategy game as its predecessor. You quickly become attached to your tribe mates, taking joy in their accomplishments and sorrow at their demise. Isola's attractively rendered, and its music and sound effects lend life and charm. Replay value is high, as well. In fact, you can play several games simultaneously if you choose.