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The Game Effect Review

Deep Black Review

Biart's underwater third person shooter has a lot to offer

By Ben Harrison on 3/1/2012
As a fan of third person shooters, Deep Black: Reloaded immediately caught my eye. Third person shooters tend to polarize gamers: either you love the idea of seeing every enemy trying to kill you at one time while you scramble for cover, or you just wonder why the game isn't a "proper" first person shooter. Regardless, this indie gem from Russian developer Biart will fit in very nicely with both sides. Whether you gravitate towards the first or third person perspective, Deep Black: Reloaded offers a unique blend of engaging gameplay and fresh environments that should intrigue any fan of the shooter genre.

Enough with the words, gimme something to shoot

The story doesn't exactly break any new ground, but it's adequate enough to get the game going. In the year 2029 (though the trailer says it's 2049), the United Nations has split into two separate entities: The Global Strategic Alliance is comprised of The United States (and I assume Canada and Mexico despite not being directly mentioned), Europe, and Australia, while Gondwana is an alliance between Africa, South America, and Asia. Maybe Mexico ended up with the rest of South America, but who knows. Basically, it's not that important.

You take control of of Lt. Syrus Pierce, who was discharged from active duty after a botched attempt against a terrorist organization. At the onset of the game, Lt. Pierce is hired by CHARON, a private military organization that specializes in amphibious missions, to break into IHS, a rival military intelligence corporation that deals with next generation weaponry. His mission is to find out any information about what new weapons and technology IHS may be working on. Lt. Pierce's motivation behind taking the job is that the head of the terrorist organization has strong ties to IHS, and he might get a second chance at the job gone wrong that cost him his career. However, what this all really boils down to is: you have a lot of fancy hi-tech guns and there are a ton of soldiers and robots to blow up, so get at it. Simple as that.
Now, if we're brutally honest here, the writing and voice acting in this game isn't exactly superb. Your contact throughout this mission is a terribly stereotypical Hispanic woman voiced by someone who clearly does not speak Spanish as a first, or even second or third, language. As a result, she makes comments through an atrocious accent about how nice her butt is and how it "launched a thousand ships", because since she's Hispanic, she must have a big butt. And, being the stereotypical military macho man that you are, you must often comment on how sexy and amazing she is, because you're a guy and that's what guys do. Nevermind the fact that you're in the middle of trespassing into a heavily guarded military base, you still can find the time to hit on a woman thousands of miles away. However, given how frequent the cutscenes come, those opportunities sometimes feel a tad repetitive. Thankfully, all of them can be skipped.

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That's still a lot of words, when do you start killing things?

Thankfully, though, the combat in the game is quite good, if not a tad predictable at times. As you make your way through the various tunnels and passageways, you'll often find yourself thinking, "this would be a great spot for an ambush." And lo and behold, swarms of enemies come out of the woodwork to try and stop you. All the standard shooter weapons are present and accounted for: you start with a machine gun, then soon find a shotgun, sniper rifle, rocket launcher, a shock rifle, and later on, a rail gun. In many corridors, you'll see bright red barrels sitting conveniently near enemies, and you know exactly what happens when you shoot them. In fact, I would say the worst thing that you can say about the game is that it's a tad generic.

Aside from the underwater segments, nothing you see in Deep Black hasn't been seen somewhere else before. However, that doesn't mean that it's bad, since the game takes the high notes from several other games and combines them all into a neat little package. Think of this as a "third person shooter greatest hits;" many stellar elements from the genre are present in this game, and they all work together quite nicely. If you're only going to play a handful of third person shooters, this one will give you most of what the genre has to offer from a gameplay perspective.

So what sets it apart from the rest?

The big selling point on this game is that it takes place mostly underwater. And while underwater, you not only have a full sphere of movement that handles perfectly, but you have a new weapon at your disposal as well: the harpoon. With this, you can snipe enemies standing near the water's edge, dragging them into the water and killing them quickly and quietly. Very satisfying each and every time you do it. You can also use the harpoon to reprogram unfriendly robotic drones and have them attack each other, which was also satisfying and quite handy at many times. The game frequently switches between being on land and water, and just when you've missed one or the other, you get another segment to break up the monotony.
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The PC version of this game also utilizes the Nvidia GeForce PhysX and 3D Vision, which makes the it look absolutely gorgeous. I happen to have a video card that takes full advantage of this, and the effects of the game really shine. The developers took plenty of time to get the minute details just right, such as the bubbles underwater or smoke from the many fires you start on land. Dimly lit corridors have amazing shadows reminiscent of Dead Space, giving you that eerie feeling of wondering what exactly will happen next. In fact, all of the art direction in this game is top-notch. The developers nailed the "damp military complex" feeling head on, creating an environment that looks both futuristic but not entirely unfounded on modern technology. All of the robots in the game look like something that could come out in the next few years, while also having that far-away futuristic look that makes sci-fi games great in the first place. If there's at least one single reason to play this game, it's that it looks absolutely phenomenal from top to bottom.

Overall Impression

While overall a fun game to play, I can see how many people might grow tired of Deep Black rather quickly. It simply doesn't tread enough new ground to grab the attention of everyone. For instance, there's a multiplayer mode that sounds like it'd be a blast to play, but no matter how often I tried to get a game going, there was no one else online. I can only imagine how fun it would be stomping around construction sites and ruined sub pens shooting each other with railguns, but it seems like it might be a while until I can find out (though to be fair, the game just released today, and we had the opportunity to play it several days prior).

After Deep Black gets its proper Steam release I'm sure the servers will start to fill out, but until then it's quite lonely. There's still a lot of fun to be had in the single player, though, and at the reasonable price of $29.99 you can find plenty of ways to get your money's worth of fun out of this title. And as for the final score, if you're a fan of third-person shooters, add another point. If you're not, take one off. As it stands, the game fits nicely between the two outlooks, so I'll leave it up to you to decide if it's worth your time. Personally, I think it's worth mine.
The Good
  • Full PhysX and 3D vision support
  • Fantastic underwater controls
  • Amazing environments and models
The Bad
  • Gameplay similar to many other games
  • Generic plot with boring characters
  • Movement on land not nearly as good as in water
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Entropic on March 04, 2012
I'm really impressed by this game.  Biart has done a great job with this game, and the production values (aside from the cliche dialog) are really strong.  Looking forward to what they come up with next!
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rohity03 on March 15, 2012
yea..i agree
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