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Publisher: CodeBlender Software    Genre: Arcade
Min OS X: 10.2.8    CPU: G4 @ 800 MHz    RAM: 256 MB    Graphics: 32 MB VRAM

DeepTrouble 2
August 15, 2005 | Bryan Clodfelter

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Flight simulators are very popular, and you don't have to look far to see evidence of their success. There have been a plethora of flight sims released in the last decade, and although they range widely in style from the typical brainless arcade shoot 'em up games to the most realistic simulators (i.e. X-Plane), they all share a common theme: the vast majority exist in the realm of air or space. By and large, game developers have ignored water as an obvious third element on which to base their games. Enter Deep Trouble 2.

Deep Trouble 2, the successor to the original Deep Trouble, brings flight simulation to an infrequently used dimension: water. While anyone who understands basic physics will quickly shout bloody murder at the use of "flight" and "underwater" in the same sentence, the physics engine of Deep Trouble 2 more accurately can be described as a flight sim, with water as the backdrop. This title contains a few improvements over the original game, but primarily features updated graphics, individual missions, and slightly more realistic combat dynamics.

As I previously mentioned, Deep Trouble 2's physics engine mirrors an atmospheric flight sim, but the setting is underwater. Your ship maneuvers with delightful fluidity; acceleration and cornering are smooth and enjoyable, and using the built-in boost is a lot of fun (and essential for your survival). It feels nothing like piloting a real submarine, but the dynamics help make the game more exciting than a realistic submarine simulator could be. Interestingly, this game clearly takes a page from Halo's book: your ship's shields, when damaged, recharge after a short period of time. Also, you are only allowed to carry two primary weapons, which you can swap out for others as you come across new weapons. The problem is that this system (which made Halo's gameplay spectacular) doesn't necessarily translate to other genres very well.

Combat in Deep Trouble 2 is simple, predictable, and, unfortunately, boring. Any gamer worth his or her salt will quickly learn this simple pattern: see enemy submarine, fire X number of torpedoes, attempt to dodge the incoming enemy torpedo, repeat. And repeat. And repeat. It really doesn't matter that you receive new weapons, or that the enemy ships get bigger and tougher—the last level of Deep Trouble feels and plays just like the first. Try this: play the demo four or five times in a row and pretend each time that you're playing a new level. Imagine doing this for hours on end. If you still like Deep Trouble 2 after that, then this may be the game for you. If not, there are many other ways that you can spend your money. In my opinion, it seems unrealistic to expect gamers to pay $30 for a game of this quality when blockbuster games such as Knights of the Old Republic are available for around the same price.

A serious omission that only compounds the lackluster combat experience is the lack of a map or some other navigation system. Finding a distant objective or a critical (not to mention tiny!) object by wandering aimlessly around Deep Trouble's indistinguishable rolling hills has to be the #1 most frustrating gaming experience of my year to date.

The primary difference between the original Deep Trouble's gameplay and its sequel is in the way combat is handled. In the original Deep Trouble, torpedoes would simply seek out the nearest enemy vessel and would score a hit almost every time. Not so in Deep Trouble 2. In this edition, you must close to a minimum distance and aim at the target to automatically lock onto it, at which point you can fire a torpedo with a reasonable assurance that it will score a hit. Without a target, torpedoes simply travel straight until they run out of fuel or hit something. The other difference (and primary similarity to Halo) is in the way shielding is handled. As mentioned above, when your ship's shield is drained you're forced to retreat to allow it to recharge (or suffer a quick death). Retreat is more difficult than it sounds because most enemy ships are impossible to outrun without boosting and their torpedoes are darn-near impossible to dodge on "normal" difficulty. Most of the time the only way to survive is to use your speed boost to outrun incoming fire, but since it uses a large chunk of your ship's shield power, it's almost as bad as being hit. Experienced gamers will discover that luring manageable quantities of fighters away from the main enemy force works best, and others will simply try to boost their way through large squadrons of enemy forces rather than engage them. Needless to say, you'll find yourself dying and starting over at various checkpoints quite a bit.

For this reason, I definitely recommend playing Deep Trouble on easy difficulty, rather than normal difficulty. Since enemies are easier to destroy and torpedoes easier to dodge on this setting, the pace of the game increases significantly and therefore become a lot more fun. Otherwise, Deep Trouble 2 is (for the most part) a slow, grinding trek.


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