Guru Magazine - - Stuff -

I am not a gamer. 2007 was the year that I stopped gam­ing for per­sonal rea­sons (I’m an addict). So I’ve missed a lot of what’s hap­pened in the gam­ing world of re­cent years. I do, how­ever, own an iPad, and I’ve tried An­gry Birds, so you’re not read­ing the words of some­one to­tally out of touch. So with that con­fes­sion over, here’s what I made of Heliceum’s med­i­cal-themed game: First off, the name ‘Hu­man De­fense Vi­ral’ sucks. My dys­lexia keeps me from de­tect­ing small spell­ing er­rors, but my spell checker con­firms that ‘de­fense’ is in­cor­rect. Oh, it’s the Amer­i­can spell­ing! I’ll have to get over that, but I’m not go­ing to get over the fact that ‘Hu­man De­fense Vi­ral’ doesn’t work as a ti­tle – it just doesn’t ‘pop’. It cer­tainly wasn’t the thing that in­spired me to stay awake in bed un­til 1:37am play­ing the same level wide-eyed un­til re­peated punches to my thigh (from my lady) told me I should call it a night. No, the name didn’t do that for me – the game­play did... Like most games of the 21st cen­tury that I’ve played, the Hu­man De­fense Vi­ral starts with an an­noy­ing in­tro­duc­tory tu­to­rial, al­though it does get you into the ac­tion quickly. In no time you will be killing goofy-look­ing cartoon viruses as they slowly march through a body you have to pro­tect. The ob­ject of the game is to keep a pa­tient alive and re­plete with nu­tri­ents. You build dif­fer­ent types of bod­ily ‘de­fenses’ to kill the var­ied viruses, each with their own strengths and weak­nesses. As the game pro­gresses, the chal­lenges be­come in­creas­ingly com­plex and de­mand­ing. Even­tu­ally, dif­fer­ent types of weapons are un­locked to kill the ever-grow­ing waves of viruses. You pay for your vi­ral ‘ de­fense’ struc­tures with the same nu­tri­ents needed to keep the heart beat­ing, so it be­comes a bal­anc­ing act: how many harm­ful viruses do you al­low to pass into the body in or­der to fuel the heart, and how much do spend to build and up­grade the ‘de­fenses’? Some­thing about this re­minded me of the sci-fi strat­egy game Star­Craft, but per­haps I’m just show­ing my age. The back­ground mu­sic is fairly mo­not­o­nous, but it changes with your pa­tient’s health – and it does a good job of high­light­ing if you’re head­ing for a flat line. If the pa­tient dies, you fail the round. It does get ad­dic­tive – very ad­dic­tive. I found my­self fix­at­edly killing vi­ral in­vaders in my at­tempts to save the hu­man. Soon I would lose com­plete track of time and how of­ten I had re­peated the same level un­til suc­ceed­ing. ‘Hu­man De­fense Vi­ral’ is cer­tainly en­ter­tain­ing and en­gross­ing – but, for me, some­thing is miss­ing: learn­ing. I am the sort of per­son who wants to learn some­thing about viruses and the real ‘ de­fenses’ that hu­mans put up to fight them. This game is pure fan­tasy and fun – but there’s no el­e­ment of learn­ing. Or if there is it was lost me. I sug­gest you play this game and see for your­self. Just don’t blame me when one hour turns into five.

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