A botched attempt to meld Descent-like graphics and action with a semblance of real-time strategy, Virus: The Game fails by a wide margin to deliver on its promise. Its gameplay objective, hunting down and destroying viruses in your hard drive files, has generated some extra, unwarranted ink, but those reporters obviously did not play this game. Those who do muddle through, will come away frustrated and bored.
Ostensibly you wend your way through your hard drive gathering energy and healing virus-tainted files. Along the way you'll encounter insect-like attack droids and do battle using some truly low-budget laser-like weapons. Ultimately you track down the virus control center(s) and blast the beasts that reside there. The strategy elements involve building a handful of construction and control facilities and keeping them provided with energy while fending off enemy attacks and restoring infected files so you can pick up energy from them as well.
All the above can keep you very busy and may hold your interest for a time. But the game's failings will soon cause your interest to plummet. For starters, the manual is skimpy, the onscreen help file is essentially an abbreviated rewrite of the manual, and the tutorial barely skims the surface. The multiplayer aspect has no documentation at all.
Gameplay is fraught with inadequacies. Keeping track of your vehicles is nearly impossible. Your "map" is simply a copy of your hard drive's file structure, and vehicles intermittently appear in place of file icons. But when the dispassionate, omnipresent female computer voice informs you that one of your vehicles is under attack, you have no idea which one or where. Locating it, taking control, and engaging the enemy takes way too many keystrokes. And, unlike most strategy games, there's no way to group your attack vehicles into one massed attack.
The keyboard controls for navigating and attacking are way too complex. For example, to simply maneuver and fire your weapon may require pressing the A key, Up arrow, and Shift key simultaneously while pressing the Ctrl key multiple times to fire. Since your attack vehicle constantly bobs and weaves (I never knew hard drives weren't affected by the earth's gravitational pull), aiming becomes nearly impossible. All this action takes place in a tiny, one-third-screen-sized area, and even on a P-200, the animation was jerky. Plus the music is incessantly dull and the sonorous enemy admonitions - "You would be amazed" - are laughable.
The tutorial goes to great lengths to explain an involved navigation system with multicolored doors. But you'll rarely use it since you simply click on a file in the game's directory to get from point A to point B.
Virus has no "radar." There is no early warning system and the virus attack droids can appear anywhere. It's mighty disconcerting to hear that female voice inform you, in one breath, that your control center is under attack, and in the next breath, before you can respond, that your base has been destroyed and the game is over.
Virus has all the appearances of a game that underwent numerous design changes but never really came together. Pardon the pun, but it should be avoided like the plague