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|Designer(s)||Jay Wilson (lead)
Impossible Creatures is a real-time strategy game released in 2003 and developed by Relic Entertainment in conjunction with Microsoft Studios. Its unique feature is that the armies used are all created by the player. The armies consist of 9 creatures; each one is a combination of any two animals from a list of 76 (51 with no downloads). Many animals possess inherent abilities to add more strategic depth to the game. There is an extensive single-player campaign as well as online multiplayer functionality with different game modes, add-ons, custom maps, mods, and scenarios.
Impossible Creatures was followed up later by a free downloadable expansion entitled Insect Invasion which added new creatures and abilities to the game. The last official add on for Impossible Creatures was released in 2004. Relic has stated that they have no further plans for the Impossible Creatures universe.
On November 12, 2015, Impossible Creatures was released on Steam as Impossible Creatures: Steam Edition, by Nordic Games. The Steam version includes all patches and expansion packs released in the past, the IC Online servers reimplemented through Steam's cloud service and the game's modding SDK included in the package alongside the Mission Editor originally available within the game's files; potential Steam Workshop support is in the works. The Steam Edition is also optimized for modern computer systems and software. The game was also released on GOG.com shortly after it appeared on Steam.
This mode consists of 15 different missions, spanning over a group of islands in the South Pacific known as the Isla Variatas, indicating the variety of environments presented to the player, ranging from jungles, deserts, or Arctic regions. The protagonist, Rex Chance, is required to collect animal DNA throughout the campaign in order to add more animal varieties to his army of combined creatures. The plot is discussed in more detail below.
In Impossible Creatures, there are three game types available during multiplayer, which allows for up to six players at once. In "Destroy Enemy Lab", the first to destroy the enemies' main laboratories is the winner. The Insect Invasion official mod added a feature that can be turned on that defends the lab, at the cost of 35 points of electricity per second. In "Destroy Enemy Base", the winner is the first to destroy all enemy buildings, including the lab. In "Hunt Rex", each player is given a special unit, Rex Chance. Players must hunt down and kill other participants' Rex Chance units. Multiplayer games can be played via the IC Online (ICO) service, via a LAN connection, or by connecting directly to the host player's IP address.
Dr. Eric Chanikov was one of the brightest scientific minds in history. After a failed experiment causes the Tunguska Event and kills his wife, he goes into willing exile at a chain of remote islands. There, he reports the creation of the Sigma Technology, a method which makes it possible to fuse two creatures together into a single organism. These reports are ignored by the scientific and mainstream communities.
Then, in 1937, believing that his last days are upon him, Chanikov sends a letter to his son, Rex, asking him to come visit his father. Rex, going by the name of "Rex Chance", a disgraced war reporter, travels to the archipelago. Discovering that his father died at the hands of the evil tycoon Upton Julius, he vows to avenge his father's murder. He is assisted by the late Chanikov's assistant, Dr. Lucy Willing. With her help, Rex quickly learns the power of the Sigma technology, and more about his family's past. As he spends time around the Sigma technology, latent abilities are made manifest within him. These abilities make him increasingly superhuman, allowing him to directly assist his Sigma Creatures in battle.
Lucy and Rex's progress is slowed by those loyal to Julius: Whitey Hooten, a whaler whose Sigma-created creatures are slow and powerful, Velika la Pette, a high-strung aristocrat who relies on aerial units, and Dr. Ganglion, a mad scientist fond of using creatures most would call abominations.
Julius is, however, confronted and defeated at the end of the game. The reasoning behind Rex's latent abilities is at last revealed: he is the accidental first product of the Sigma technology, a human combined with thousands of animal traits. As the game closes, Rex is shown with his pupils missing, a trait common among Sigma-created creatures.
Rex Chance is the protagonist of the game, a renowned war correspondent revered for his coverage of international conflicts. During the Spanish Civil War, Rex breaks the golden rule of not "interfering" and is promptly fired when he returns to the United States. He searches his longtime lost father, Dr. Eric Chanikov, following clues through newspaper clippings and a letter that Chanikov left for him. Chance discovers that his father was the leading scientist in the Sigma project—a technology that combines creatures' DNA to create hybrid animals. Upton Julius, the main villain, pursues him relentlessly across Isla Variatas in an attempt to capture Rex for unknown purposes. During the campaign, Rex witnesses the wonder and horror of Sigma, convincing him that it is too powerful in the hands of mortal men. After a brief spat with Lucy, he convinces her to help him erase all trace of the technology in order to avoid its abuse. It is later revealed that Rex Chance was the first product in an attempt to create a human-animal hybrid with the Sigma technology after the Tunguska blast which gave Rex his powers, giving reason as to why Julius demanded that Chance be brought to him alive.
Rex is a playable character and responsible for collecting the animal DNA that build up his Sigma creature armies during the game.
Rex is voiced by Lee Tockar.
Dr. Lucy Willing
Lucy Willing, a brilliant and beautiful young scientist, worked together with Dr. Chanikov on the Sigma technology but quit after she discovered Upton Julius' plans for world conquest. After saving Rex's life, she assists him in fighting against Julius' forces. She and Rex travel throughout Isla Variatas in a mobile "flying train" known as the "Lab". At one point during the game, Lucy is kidnapped by a gorilla/sperm whale hybrid possessing the size of the whale, but not any of its actual parts. Rex eventually rescues her and the two share a brief hug.
Lucy was voiced by Kathleen Barr.
Lucy is also a playable character, but does not collect animal DNA. She is able to repair different kinds of structures, study buildings in order to make them buildable by the player, construct buildings, and to sabotage enemy buildings.
A multi-millionaire benefactor, Julius worked closely with Dr. Chanikov, but soon decided to steal the secrets of the Sigma technology, create an army of genetically-created beasts, and develop plans to conquer the world. He is the antagonist in the game, hunting Rex Chance across the game's many islets to capture him in the hope of creating more human-animal hybrids with Sigma. In the end, he was probably killed by being carried off by one of his own Sigma creatures after being defeated by Rex.
Upton is voiced by David Kaye.
A mighty whaler, Whitey Hooten has an army of Sigma creatures focusing on close combat and brute force. He is notorious for sporting a short temper, regularly berating and abusing his henchmen. Located in Isla Variatas' Arctic regions, his army is the first to face Lucy and Rex in their quest to defeat Julius. Hooten is eventually defeated and drowns when he breaks the ice under his ship/igloo laboratory.
Whitey is voiced by Lee Tockar.
Velika La Pette
Velika La Pette is an ornithologist and the second of Julius' cronies that Rex and Lucy encounter. Mainly focusing on aerial units, Velika attempts to thwart Rex's progress by kidnapping the local villagers on various islands. Described as the "true power behind the throne", it is implied that she exerts a certain amount of influence over Upton Julius, as well as being his lover. She has a French accent and travels using a gyrocopter. After her Lab is destroyed, Velika is last seen plunging headfirst into the ocean when her gyrocopter malfunctions. She enjoys creating combined creatures to make exotic fur coats.
Velika was voiced by Kathleen Barr.
Dr. Otis Ganglion
Dr. Ganglion is a deranged veterinarian and the right hand of Upton Julius. Before being taken under Julius' wing, Ganglion created numerous strange animal hoaxes and sold them to freak show across the United States. He performs sick experiments on both humans and animals as part of his "practice" with the Sigma technology. He was hired to perform the cruel and inhumane experiments that Dr. Chanikov refused to do. During the final level of the game, his body is violently thrown against a wall by a spinning fan, killing him. His name is a reference to ganglion, a bundle of nerves.
Otis is voiced by Lee Tockar.
Dr. Eric Chanikov
A "kind and brilliant" man according to Lucy Willing, Eric Chanikov was the main founder of the Sigma technology and father to Rex Chance, the protagonist. Before the events of the game, Chanikov worked closely alongside Dr. Lucy Willing and Upton Julius on the Sigma project. Unfortunately, Julius (and or Whitey Hooten) murdered him before Rex and Lucy could find, let alone save, Chanikov. The reason that his surname is different from Rex's is because when Rex was sent to America, his name was translated into English.
Eric is voiced by Lee Tockar.
According to early previews players had to tranquilize creatures and bring them back to the base to collect their DNA. In the final product, though, it is enough for Rex to shoot a creature to collect its DNA. This only applies to the single-player campaign; in a regular multi-player skirmish, all creatures are readily available.
Maxim gave it a score of eight out of ten and said, "Once you get past all the gamesmanship, you can concentrate on bitch-slapping Mother Nature by creating twisted beasts that would make Jack Hanna brown his khakis." However, The Cincinnati Enquirer gave it three-and-a-half stars out of five and said that its gameplay "doesn't match the title's ingenious premise." Entertainment Weekly gave it a C, saying, "If most real-time strategy titles are elaborate versions of rock-paper-scissors, Impossible Creatures is the world's most sophisticated game of rock."
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