Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPad
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Ports of board games are always exciting to see on iOS. The way developers re-imagine how game systems should be translated from real world bits and pieces into a digital format can make, break, or transform the experience. In the case of Pandemic: The Board Game the developers made a very faithful adaptation of a superb board game, but it's not perfect.
For those unfamiliar with Pandemic, it is a cooperative game in which players are tasked with curing outbreaks that have occurred all over the world. Each player has a limited number of actions per turn and must strategize with their companions how to best spend their time gathering the necessary cards to cure all diseases. In addition, each player takes on one of seven roles, each with unique special abilities that must work together for success. The entire experience captures much of what I imagine handling a global pandemic crisis would be like, only in game form.
Pandemic is also much like handling a global crisis in the sense that the game is insanely hard. The only win condition in the game is that all four diseases must be cured, but there are several ways to lose; like having too many outbreaks occur or running out of cards. This turns Pandemic into a game of not just management and containment of disease, but also of deliberate decision-making.
Despite the challenge, though, Pandemic is a very compelling experience. It's a great translation of the board game, and does a good job of making each player feel like an individual and a team member at the same time. The game isn't flashy in its presentation, but it does look nice and can be played in either portrait or landscape modes. In addition, accessing menus to see additional game data - like available cards and game rules - are a cinch.
The biggest problem with Pandemic on the iPad, however, is its multiplayer integration. As a board game that is meant to be played with others, Pandemic only offers a pass and play multiplayer experience. On one hand, I can understand why this would be the case as an online multiplayer mode wouldn't capture the feeling of collaboration and discussion quite as much as local multiplayer, but not even offering it (or even local multiplayer on multiple devices) makes the game feel like it's missing something. That being said, I ended up enjoying Pandemic mostly as a single-player experience, so the multiplayer options didn't bother me much.
Overall, Pandemic on the iPad is a great experience. It may feel like it's lacking in the multiplayer department, but that didn't keep me from having a blast with it. Anyone that's fond of the board game can rest assured that this is a quality version that's worth playing, and for the unfamiliar it's still a great game worth checking out.