Phage Wars 2


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Rating: 4.6/5 (184 votes)
| Comments (53) | Views (242)

DoraPhage Wars 2Chemistry sets these days are pretty lame. Good luck trying to extract DNA from mosquitoes imprisoned in amber with something that has difficulty producing a decent baking soda volcano. If you've been longing for something to fill the petri-dish-shaped hole in your heart left by a childhood of an unfulfilled desire for dangerous genetic experimentation, Phage Wars 2 is here to crash through a window with a rose in its teeth and woo you with the promise of creating the deadliest virus known to man. Just try not to swoon face-first into a table of samples seething with virulent disease.

From Armor Games and Joey Betz comes a game about breeding stronger, faster, more magenta-y viruses, and other wholesome pastimes. Unlike the original where you were only able to choose from a selection of premade viruses, the sequel has a much broader scope. You're put into the shoes of a new laboratory technician tasked with creating the ultimate virus, and you'll do so by pitting your creation against those that came before you.

The game is played entirely with the mouse, and from the virtual desktop the game presents you with, all you need to do is click on something to get started, exactly the way you would with your own computer. The bulk of the gameplay takes place when you click on the "Run Experiment" icon, which will present you with several tests to choose from. You'll need to work your way through all of them to advance and achieve your dream of becoming the nastiest, most plague-bearing-est virus on the planet. GO TEAM.

Once you begin an experiment, your virus will start out in a single cell and so will your opponent, each with your own colour to help you tell cells apart. The number in your cells, which can regenerate all the way up to 100, represents your virus's strength. Click on one of your cells, drag over to an enemy cell and release. Half of that cell's strength will split off and head on over to attack; if its value is greater than the enemy cell, you'll take it over. It sounds simple because it is. But the enemy is constantly on the attack too, and as the experiments progress, you'll find yourself harder pressed to both hold and gain ground. The experiment succeeds if you manage to take control over all the cells on the field.

Upon completing a test run, you're typically presented with the message that you've discovered a new gene. These are modifiers that can be spliced into your existing virus to affect everything from how fast it regenerates to how quickly it moves. As you evolve, so do the other species, and you'll need to keep moving to stay alive. The analysis program can be run after each test to show you how your virus is stacking up, and can be a good way to find out which areas you might be lacking in.

Phage Wars 2Analysis: Phage Wars 2 is an improvement over the original in a lot of ways. The AI is faster and more aggressive. The ability to customize your virus is a great touch. The interface is smart and engaging. And I get to pretend I'm an Umbrella lab technician!

Presented on a virtual desktop, Phage Wars 2 goes a long way to get in character and stay there. Everything is designed to make you feel as though you're working on an actual lab computer rather than playing a game. While the visuals aren't quite realistic, they're still extremely effective for their purpose. Windows pop up and minimize with the appropriate sounds. The documentation is accessed via a "Read Me" file that looks like an actual text document, complete with ASCII title. It's a lot of tiny touches that combine to make one very clever and absorbing experience and made my nerd-o-meter ping off the scale with delight.

Despite being billed as a strategy game, this isn't something where you can kick back with a cup of coffee and expect to mull over your every move while thoughtfully stroking your chin. The gameplay is actually very fast; enemy viruses begin swarming the instant the level starts up and rarely take a breather. As such, rather than carefully plotting out a plan of attack, most of your time will be sent trying to capture as much ground as possible as quickly as possible while the enemy batters at your defenses. The stronger you make your virus, the more easily later levels can be won by a blind, zergling rush in all directions. With the exception of regeneration, most of the other attributes don't appear to have a very big impact.

Still, from its quirky presentation to its fast-paced gameplay, Phage Wars 2 is a solid little package. What it lacks in variety, it makes up for in originality and style. It plays well, and the only bugs you'll encounter are the contagious, necrotic sort, which makes for a nice change of pace. For featuring the only weapons of mass destruction that could be undone by a spritz of Lysol, Phage Wars 2 is a winner in my book. Now if you'll excuse me, I have to go disinfect. Everything.

Play Phage Wars 2

To explore the roots of this style of gameplay, try Galcon, King Mania, or Nano Wars!

53 Comments

Spotlight Author Profile Page June 22, 2009 12:35 PM

Very fun, but too easy near the end.

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Pumping defense and reproduction makes any node you capture almost unkillable. Speed and agility are the most useless attributes, and strength is a little useful, but is unfortunately nerfed by the hard cap of 100 units on any cell.

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I love how this is both a puzzle and action game. Sometimes, you'll be sitting there wondering whether you should increase the strength or the defense, and then other times you'll be like "let's go attack this cell...UHOH, they're attack my cell over there, gotta go SAVE IT... OH NO! NOW THEY'RE ATTACKING THAT CELL!" and frantically dragging your mouse this way and that.

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Anonymous June 22, 2009 1:08 PM

i find it fun to do time trials on each level after you get max stats. my lowest time is three seconds.

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I would actually rate strength as the most important stat, followed by reproduction, defense, speed and agility in descending order.

When I got the choice I increased strength as much as possible and didn't lose a game after that.

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This game won't work for me. Do I need to have something installed? Because all it shows when I try to play it is a big black screen...

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This is popular on Plum Island.

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mrf1shie Author Profile Page June 22, 2009 3:13 PM

My strategy came down to

maxing repoduction, strength and speed and clicking like a madman in the first few seconds to capture as many cells as possible, you regenerate so fast that you can just keep the attacks coming and wipe the enemy out in not long at all.

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Mh, pretty fun, but in fact, quite unbalanced. I only got close to losing in the first level, after that, I pretty much had the strategy just as in the last game and never even got close to losing.

[spoiler]
In fact, landgrab and numbers are everything. In the first seconds of the game, grab as many cells as you can, even if you have to lose an arm and a leg to do so.
Given that, and a very high reproduction rate, you will have boatloads and boatloads of units at your command, which are just able to run over everything the enemies put up just by sheer numbers. Who cares if he has 100 units in a defense*2-cell? Just attack with 500 Units and he's gone.

I for myself also maxed strength, even though I think, speed might be even more useful than strength, due to the major importance of the intial landgrab (+ of course the reproduction ad nauseum).

Just as mr fishie does, as I just see. Good to know :)
[/spoiler]

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Hudoken June 22, 2009 3:59 PM

Really enjoyed this one. Would be nice if you could play this multiplayer.

Also, I beg to differ with the people saying spd and agi are the weaker atributes. I passed the game maxing only spd and agi (and later reproduction(str and def not leveled at all)) and never lost a level The attributes are actually all nicely balanced in my opinion.

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Splurgy June 22, 2009 3:59 PM

This is amazingly addictive. Once you've worked out "the" strategy, it's quite simple but the challenge of dragging keeps it fun. It truly is a casual game - I've been playing for a short while and I'm nearly done on plants.

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private June 22, 2009 5:13 PM

too hard to be fun.

i still rate it 5/5.

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This was fairly fun for me as a biologist, and addictive enough that I had to finish it all in one sitting! Towards the end it was getting stupidly easy though. I think I beat one level in under a minute or something. As others have said...

once you max out on reproduction, it's all downhill. Other viruses can't take over your cells because you replenish them much faster than they can invade them. Defence is also handy. In the last level, the live animal tissue, speed doesn't even matter because those red blood cells give you a super speed boost anyways. I had zero speed at the end!

However, beautifully showed off the mechanisms of evolution ;D Was fun, and the music was just right. Plus the ending made me giggle a bit. Beware though, it's ADDICTIVE! :D

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Did'nt get the part of upgrading...
where can i find that?

anyway...
Part one was more fun. This was just to easy.
I like the concept but this needs to be a lot bigger, harder en more interesting in upgrading.
Like saving virusses and crosbreading them and al sorts of stuff would have made it nice.

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I agree that the traits don't seem to make a huge difference. Speed makes the game a lot easier to play though, and strength is really useful, but both don't seem to matter on levels where almost every cell is x2something. For anyone who's interested, a clear explanation of sequencing follows:

Each protein can be gathered twice, so run through the game twice if you desperately want to get your stats maxed. That said, you can't actually get your stats maxed (as far as i can see) The closest you can get is:

leeB Cook
jacK
jacK
leeB strH strH agiY
powR powR musL
musL agiE repN
agiY repN defE defE speD
cooK lovE

this gets you to
Speed: 10
Strength: 10
Agility: 10
Defense: 11
Reproduction: 11

ohwell, I tried, I couldn't figure out a way to max everything. It's like a badly fitting puzzle :(

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Why, oh WHY, are all Flash games so bleepin' loud? I had my audio down to 50%, and my speakers turned down as well. I can barely hear my Mac's "click" when I adjust the audio level. But this game's startup sound is so loud I had to crank down my speakers.

Here's a couple tips for all Flash game developers:

  1. Not everyone wants an audio fest along with the game. (They may, for example, have their own music playing in the background.) Make sure that music or atmosphere and sound effects have different mute options.

  2. Make sure that the user can choose to mute audio or music before it plays.

  3. Start your flash game with the audio at 50%, and provide an overall volume adjustment. If I remember correctly, it's a single line of code to set the 50%, and it can't be too difficult to provide volume adjustments. Even if that slider is difficult, I'd always rather have to turn my speakers up than down.

I haven't played the game yet, however.

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Followup, it is one line:

SoundMixer.soundTransform = new SoundTransform(0.5);

OK, I'm done ranting now.

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Vebyast Author Profile Page June 23, 2009 2:58 AM

Notes for those who are obsessive, bored, and mathy (like me):

If you refresh the page, your upgrades will remain (along with your stash of unused proteins), but the game will forget that it's already given you proteins from levels. When you do this, every level always gives you the same protein.

The most efficient proteins on a total points per block level are (in order) jacK, leeB, powR, and the five single-stat proteins (strH, speD, defE, repN, and agiY). If you're ignoring speed and agility, as I did initially, the most efficient are (in order) walL, jacK, booM, and leeB, then the singles.

Using the two above notes to give a solution for those that are stuck:

Repeatedly refresh the page and farm repN from the node on the bottom-left of the culture (light) set of levels, which is open from the beginning of the game. That's basically the only protein you need to win the game.

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This must become multiplayer. I would play this until my hand merged with the mouse.

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"The stronger you make your virus, the more easily later levels can be won by a blind, zergling rush in all directions."

Strange. Before I read the full review I made the same connection to Starcraft.

I lament the lack of strategy involved in this game, but it was still very addicting. Enough so, in fact, that it kept me playing until the end.

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This game is really hard. I can't even beat the first stage.

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This game has infected me!!!

I've beaten it, but... I... can't... stop... playing...

I'm attempting to max all stats.

@ Dylan:

You just need to be quick with your mouse. Click, drag and drop as quickly as possible to as many nearby cells as you can. Once you get a few started, start chaining them. Click one, then drag over 2 or 3 others before attacking a new cell. If one of your cells gets attacked, chain several nearby cells to attack and retake it. You'll get it eventually.

This game reminds me of what goes on before a zombie outbreak occurs.

Watch for "Phage Wars 3" where you need to make a cure for the rampant zombie virus that is taking over the world...

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Another problem is that is lags a lot. The more I spread, the less I'm able to continue.

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When it lags, sometimes I can't even control the organisms properly

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sshhhhhh Author Profile Page June 23, 2009 11:22 AM

Fun... but VERY easy. Once I got the hang of it some of the levels would literally be won in a matter of seconds. Like 10-15 of them. No losses or close to losses ever.

I also didn't even bother figuring out what the stats do. I'd pick postive ones where I could.

IE +2 and -2 = 0 gain

If another was +2 and -1 = +1 I'd take that one... regardless of what it was.

Mindless easy fun... but fun all the same.

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yes this is very easy. For those who are stuck early on I reccommend skipping culture(light)3 and going on to 4. It's much easier and you get a good protein. Or at least, it was easier for me.

The first few levels were good but it got easier as you went on, not harder ( :( )
And reproduction+strength(or defense) is good for the first time around, but reproduction+speed+strength is better for speed runs

to prove my point: metazoa live 4(the bottom one) in 42 whatever-the-game-uses time units :)

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Very fun, but it get's too easy as you go. I remember the difficulty level really ramping up in the original, so the challenge stayed interesting all the way through.

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Night Stryke Author Profile Page June 23, 2009 5:59 PM

It *is* possible to get max in all stats, though I'm not sure it's intentional.

If you complete the fourth Metazoa (live) level twice, you get a jacK protein that gives +2 to all stats. It's probably a bug, but if you exit and re-enter the game, you can receive any proteins you've previously won; do this five times with the final level and you've got five jacK proteins for +10 in all stats, and three whole bars to spare. Note that you only seem to be able to hold two of the same protein in your inventory at a time, so sequence the jacK proteins into your virus as you get them.

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MaybeLater_x Author Profile Page June 23, 2009 8:34 PM

I played right up 'til the end. :) I didn't realise you could actually use upgrades until I got to the Dark branch (I thought upgrades were automatically implemented). Once I did start using them, however, the game got a lot easier and as others have already said the last few games were incredibly short. But I kept playing. Something addictive about it.
XD

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Actually speed is the most important for me
followed by reproduction

be the first to reach white cells, cancerous cells, and bacteriaes, and the level is half won

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Did I miss name entry? The prize at the end is issued to "labtech1" =P

I like the click and drag to select multiple nodes to attack.

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Why do I have a feeling that the game just keeps on getting easier and easier? Must be the genes.

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Anonymous June 24, 2009 4:25 PM

Disappointingly easy relative to the previous game. might be better if this were your first time through. Was able to rush win every level, didnt even learn what the various bells and whistles (ie different kinds of nodes) did. Too bad, because the game is basically fun. what happened to star baron?

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Anonymous June 24, 2009 7:23 PM

I can't reset this game to play it again--tried loading it on Chrome, Firefox, and IE and deleting browsing data on all three. Would it have been so hard to build a "restart" button into the interface?

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If you want the game to stay a challenge as the levels progress, skip all upgrades and play with the un-ungraded genome - it's still quite playable.

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I'm surprised you didn't mention Dyson.

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zeldaduderox Author Profile Page June 25, 2009 10:05 PM

In the sequencer, what do the colors do? Like yellow, magenta, cyan, what do they do?

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@zeldaduderocks: They just change your virus' color in-game. Different combinations of the color genomes cause your virus to turn different colors. I don't think that they do anything else though.

Also, for those having problems with lag, there is a little "Q-H" in the upper right-hand corner of the screen. Clicking it will change the graphics quality and possibly speed up your game.

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Wow, this game is awesome AND addicting. Strangely enough, i also made a connection to Starcraft while playing, though that was probably helped by my watching of the third SCII battle report.

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Cool little game. I say "little" because the whole thing was only a couple hours long.

As others have said, it's very easy to crush the opposition if you simply out-number them.

The single most important stat for out-numbering them is of course reproduction. Max that, and it's like having your own x2 reproduction cells all the time.

Oh, by the way, watch for those cells! If you grab all the x2 reproduction cells on the level first, you've almost one.

And, since getting there first is so important, the second most important stat must be speed.

Do it like a Rabbit. Fast and reproductive!

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if you pause the game the second the play button turns to a pause button and wait like 15 seconds, all of the other guys die their main base thing goes down to like 3 from 100

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I am really stuck on the dark culture thing, i cant beat any of them and i dont really get how to use the bit where you put stats into your virus or whatever you call it.

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finished without upgrading. Its the only way its hard.

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Pipstickz July 8, 2009 2:11 AM

Figured out how to max all stats, using the above person's example, but with a little bit of tweeking

cooK leeB
jacK
jacK
leeB strH strH agiY
powR powR musL
aglE musL repN
agiY defE speD repN repN
jacK

And there you have it :D

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the game froze up or something i couldnt get past the advertisement when i opened the page, it just kept playing over and over

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mclemon July 10, 2009 4:34 PM

the best way to max all stats is to simply use

jacK x5

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Gabriel Author Profile Page July 16, 2009 1:16 AM

To reset the game, rightclick and go into Flash settings. Set the available cache for Armor Games to 0, close your browser, and reopen it. Then set it back to whatever it was before, if you want.

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Anonymous July 26, 2009 2:05 PM

Okay, so this almost always guarentees a win, even if you don't have much skill in the game:

Pause the game, wait a few seconds, unpause the game. Repeat as much as desired. For some reason the other virus's numbers will plummet. Then it is time to make your move killing them and winning the game.

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Anonymous July 30, 2009 2:43 PM

Brilliant. I love the presentation and smooth gameplay. Little details like the cells drifting are pretty cool.

On the downside, it was just too easy the first time through, so I tried it without upgrading... still easy but each game went from taking thirty seconds for completion to a couple minutes. This game deserves twice as many levels and a difficulty setting because it feels like a tutorial.

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How about multiplayer options ? :)

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Now here's a challenge. Beat the last level without powerups.
Succeeded in the second try, but damn my hand hurts from clicking...

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Josh Seckler February 16, 2011 4:57 PM

I know everyone says defense reproduction and strength are the best, but I found with maxed out speed and agility with no defense and little strength and decent reproduction I could gain a huge upper hand right off the bat and send huge amounts of waves at the enemy just overwhelming them.

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