Deep Black: Reloaded|
Deep Black: Reloaded is an over the shoulder shooter that puts the player in control of Pierce, an ex-military turned private merc who knows a thing or two about a jet-pack enabled high-tech, armored diving-suit. Biart is the indie developer and driving force behind this project. Set in a near-future world of bio-terrorism, you are sent on a mission that takes you where you least expect. At least, that’s what the description will make you think. This game looks good at first blush, but as you play it, you will find that it falls short of the mark that it sets for itself and becomes a tired, repetitive shooter that gives away all its gimmicks right in the beginning.
The first thing that struck me when I played this game was that the graphics are pretty top-notch. I was impressed with the uses of lighting to create very diverse and distinct environments throughout the game. Everything from the world around you to the really cool looking character that you control, his weapons, and the water, oh the water, are stunningly represented on the screen. One of the coolest things in the game is the transition from underwater to above and vice-versa. There is a real feeling of that distinct change in how everything looks. And if you look up out of the water from underneath, everything ripples and isn’t quite where you think it should be; just like it should be. The graphic designers at Biart really got it right when they designed how the water felt, looked, and behaved on the screen. You’ll even notice water washing from the “lens” of your camera as you emerge from the water. Very cool stuff, indeed.
And speaking of water, as gamers, most of us have come to look at water as a place where our characters go to die. In many games water is used as a barrier to keep us away from areas the programmers didn’t want us to explore. In others, we are allowed to go underwater, but for brief periods of time, constantly seeking for air pockets where we can catch our breath and avoid the not-so-heroic death of drowning. This is not so in Deep Black: Reloaded. In this game, you start off equipped with a state-of-the-art combat diving suit that makes you at least as efficient, if not more-so underwater, as you are on land.
You’ll quickly find that you are at your most deadly when you use the water to your advantage. Being underwater, you are nearly invisible to those enemies that are on land, so you can stealthily sneak right up to them and take them out without them ever realizing you were there. Also, you’ll use water to progress to areas of the game that would otherwise be inaccessible.
That being said, I found myself getting frustrated with the controls while swimming around underwater. There are the normal WASD controls, as you would expect, but there are no controls for going up or down in the water. So, if you want to go up, you have to look up and go forward. Maybe it’s a little picky of me, but I would have liked to have all six directions under my control. Likewise, there is no jump or crouch while on land, but you can press space to take cover behind objects both above and below water, which really helps in combat.
Unfortunately, the combat is where this game started to lose my interest. They give you plenty of cool tools. You get a machine gun and pistol really early on, and quickly find a shotgun, as well. You can also use your harpoon gun to do a Mortal Kombat-esque “get over here” type move and stab your opponent to death, which is fun to watch. And the sound effects are pretty cool. They make the guns sound powerful and cool and a lot of stuff blows up, but, the combat sections of the game feel extremely repetitive and not very dynamic. You will enter a room and start getting shot at. The enemy will take cover. You will take cover. You will take aim from behind your cover and wait for your enemy to pop his head out from his cover. You will shoot at him or a conveniently placed nearby exploding barrel. He will shoot at you. You will most likely kill him. Rinse. Repeat.
Or you’ll be underwater and a robot drone will swim at you and you’ll get into a grappling fight with it. You mash the “F” button and stab it a bunch of times and then it dies. The fight is the same every time. It looks really cool the first couple of times, but then it gets old. I guess I just didn’t get the feeling that the AI in the game was all that interested in trying to kill me. They weren’t challenging me. Making me feel like I needed to come up with a tactical solution to the situation. It was just, “Oh, here are more guys shooting at me. I guess I’ll take cover over here and shoot back.”
The game boasts an immersive sci-fi story line that takes you through 40 levels and 4 distinct environments. I didn’t see it. The voice acting and writing is very clunky and awkward. I had a really tough time even following the set-up through the opening cut-scene. The characters are cliché, and just seem like sad attempts at mimicking other games that did a much, much better job of doing it the first time around. If there is an immersive and intriguing sci-fi plot, I guess I missed it. Everything I saw just seemed like they’d ripped plot ideas out of other games or movies that they thought were cool and pasted them into this.
There is a multiplayer element to this game, but at the time of this review, the multiplayer was unavailable, so I can’t comment on that. I will say that I think it would be interesting to see what types of multiplayer modes you would get out of a game that focuses so heavily on underwater combat. It would definitely be unique, to say the least, but not interesting enough to make me want to go out and buy a copy just to find out.
Ultimately, this game is an attempt by an indie company to make a good-looking, story-driven action arcade game. Bottom line, if you’re looking for a really dynamic, fast-paced combat game, you’ll want to consider looking somewhere else. If you’re interested in seeing what an indie developer can do with a genre that hasn’t really been tapped yet, then feel free to check it out. This game is different from your usual shooter, attempting to add depth (wow...bad pun?) to a possibly worn-out style of game. Did they succeed? Not really. I feel bad, because I wanted to like this game, but it’s really just a beat up car with a nice paint job.