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GD Star RatingOperation: Eradicate,
There is no doubt in my mind that Operation: Eradicate is a clone of Pandemic. Owning the physical version of the game I am very familiar with it and have a good comprehension regarding how the game should be played strategically, how the various roles complement each other, and the subtleties of cooperation.
For those who are unaware of the background of this game, this is what the developer has to say:
For the background of the game, we did talk to Zev @ Z-Man games last Sept about an iPad port of Pandemic. He mentioned that they were just bought, and the new publisher will get to development eventually using in-house devs that hadn’t been spun up yet. We took that as meaning that it wan’t currently under development, but they should eventually get to it. Also see http://boardgamegeek.com/thread/766059/aborted-pandemic-ios-project/page/1 for even more history of cancelled Pandemic for iPad.
With that in mind, and since we really liked the game, we thought we would bring a high quality, iPad game that was inspired by Pandemic, with commissioned hand drawn art, high quality music, original user-interface, and a numerous changes/updates to the game. The infections sequence is handled differently, outbreaks are different, some things have been removed (like fly anywhere, predict infection…) and we added a scoring attribute to the game. And supporting turn-based multiplayer matches is a non-trivial endeavour with Apple.
From a business side, the market obviously wants a Pandemic like game on the iPad, and I have no clue why ZMan or its current owner is dragging its feet so badly. If they had published the game that Henry Truong made, or had signaled it was in development, we would not have bothered. Operation Eradicate has pushed to the top ten iPad board and strategy games, proving that the consumers have been the ones forced to wait for a game meeting this need. If and when an official Pandemic comes, out we will be the first to buy it, but I can’t hold my breath for 8 to 12 more months.
Personally, I was for five years the lead engineer of a profitable internet start-up that had a successful exit. This enabled me to focus on iOS game production full time (of which I have been doing part time for the last 2+ years). We thoughtful approached this project, carefully designed the iPad interfaces, conducted play testing, and other wise used by startup experience to craft a good game, that board game enthusiast obviously want.
Though in many ways it is was inspired by Pandemic, we have used only original artwork, UI design, audio and descriptions for the game, and we have never used the Pandemic name in any advertising, marketing, description or other promotions or otherwise appropriated the Pandemic name for our benefit. We believe this game can and will stand on its own, even if/when a branded Pandemic game comes out on the iPad.”
For those of you who are familiar with Pandemic the premise of this game is undoubtedly familiar. Replace a pandemic with a zombie plague and you’re set. Effectively, you play one (or more) people who are world experts attempting to thwart a zombie plague that is affecting the entire globe. The five roles each have a unique ability that must be coordinated in order to effectively destroy the plague. There is the assault commander, who is capable of destroying zombies in great swathes, the transport pilot who is good at relocating characters, the logistics coordinator who is good at sharing resources, the research analyst who is good at stabilising regions, as well as the engineering expert who can easily built airports. Most of the difficulty comes in being clever about how you compliment each other, which is typical of most cooperative games.
In each turn you will have four moves you can make, that can be spent on moving (normally only to a connected city, but there are a variety of options that will let you travel farther). You can use actions to trade resources, assuming you’re in the right location; to eliminate part of a zombie infestation; and to use resources themselves. Your object is for one of your crew to collect five resources of the same region and deploy a stabilising effect over that region from an airport.
The game ends in one of three ways; when all four regions are stabilised (earning a full victory); when eight infestations occur (earning a partial victory depending on how many stabilised regions you have); when you run out of turns (partial victory as well); or you could lose.
As outlined, there are some rules changes in the game, which means some of the aspects work differently. I consider it to be my problem is that these differences are not immediately apparent. Being an old hat at Pandemic I was making assumptions about how I could play the game that turned out to be erroneous. In some respects I had to unlearn Pandemic and relearn it. It took about three games before I completely sorted out those differences in my head.
In other respects this is further complicated by the fact that on the surface it seems a different game (due to original artwork) and at its roots there are some difference (in structural mechanics) but most of the core of Pandemic is there, meaning we must (of course) draw comparisons. In order for this game to be able to compete with its progenitor it will have to distinguish itself and I’m not quite sure it has done so. It is very probably that if a Pandemic original ever hits the market it will have a certain amount of polish and if the UI is slicker it will certainly overshadow this game.
How does the game stand as its own entity? On one hand it is a good game, but again most of those core mechanics are borrowed. It is also clear to me that the developers were approaching this with the respect of an homage and not the desire to capitalise on a popular property. This is the main reason I have not reviewed the ignominious clone of Carcassonne but have chosen to review this here. For what it’s worth, the game is fun and is one I intend to keep around.
I must admit, there is one rule that is changed that absolutely frustrates me. That is no longer being able to spend a resource card of the city you are in to travel to any other possible city. It is a core to a Pandemic strategy and you’ll have to learn how to coordinate your roles differently. The other issue I have is that the logistics coordinator’s ability is unidirectional. He would be a much more useful character if he could also receive resources from any single character, but alas this is not so.
I’ve also become aware that on the iPad the touch interface is a bit off. Usually you have to aim a little bit below where you intend, which is idiomatic of iPhone games magnified by 2. So in this respect I am not sure that the developers have adequately implemented a touch interface suitable for the larger iPad screen.
7/10: I will no doubt be playing this game until such time as Pandemic comes out. At that point, the gloves come off and we will see an interesting contestation of oneupmanship. I think that Operation: Eradicate would do well to develop an expansion that is significantly different from Pandemic’s to give it its own unique identity.