So, you have to save the world again. This time all war has been abolished (or so they thought). The world is a place where you can get whatever you want at the nanoreplicator on the corner. Piece reigns and all is well because nobody needs anything.
Enter the bad guys. A small group of would be dictators are not happy with the current situation, as they are not in charge. They have been secretly keeping old weapons systems alive and have been updating them with new technology. The unsuspecting world knows nothing of this until missiles start dropping.
No, you do not enter here yet! Sifting through the archives it is remembered that one (how lucky) of the old ‘adaptive cruisers,’ the Antaeus, is still in existence. It is raised from its resting place beneath the waves and found to be in disrepair. THIS is where you come in. You are chosen to command this last hope of a peaceful humanity to repel the evil warmongers! (Sound interesting yet?) One last thing – the Antaeus is not just another pretty ship. When fully operational it can replicate, in the blink of an eye, ANY weapons system it has the schematics for, AND it can disassemble anything you find and create schematics of it. The problem is that when you take the controls it IS NOT fully functional.
One annoying piece of this game, which is encountered EVERY time you fire it up, is the electronic registration. Now I am not a fan of registrations as all they seem to do is bring a bunch of junk E-Mails to your computer. I keep track of updates and patches of games I am currently playing via the web so have no need of announcements of them from the company. That being said, I am sure that there are a lot of folk out there that want to register what they own. Well, the electronic registration did not work for me. It kept looking for a modem when I have direct access to the web. And the only reason I tried this was because there is NO means, which I found, of getting into the game without getting this popup.
So my first entry into the game, this registration thing annoys me but I say, "Ok, I will fire up the tutorial and see how to play this baby." (Did I mention that I rarely read the rules before firing up a game? I will jump in run the tutorial and then refer back to the manual when necessary during the first few sessions until I am comfortable with the interface.) Horrors, there is NO tutorial. Now I am about to play Frisbee with this CD when I decide to see what I can do without the tutorial. Come to find out these folk have built the tutorial into the first few missions. Imagine my chagrin!
You start with an Antaeus that can barely move from point A to point B. Your first set of missions takes you through the basic controls and interfaces as you slowly make your way to the nearest dry dock for necessary repairs! Great Idea! I love it! I am now merrily beating down the badies while I learn the game.
You get comfortable with the interface pretty quickly. Many of the controls are familiar from other similar games. One of these, the grouping function however, was not found to be as useful as it could have been. You can draw the standard box around multiple units, hit the ‘ctrl #’ to give that group the number you want associated with it. You can then command them as a group. The problem is that they tend to wander during fights. After the initial target is destroyed they will each go after the nearest enemy target to them. If you do not keep close watch over the group it can soon be spread over half the map! So I stuck with individual units and controlled them individually. Not sure if this is feasible for the entire set of missions, but it worked well on the ones I have played to date.
The controls are set up so you can take charge of the individual units under your control or let the artificial intelligence, represented by soulcatcher chips in this game, to control them for you. I tend to not be very good at hitting moving targets, so I let the soulcatchers control my units and only gave them basic combat commands. There are missions where you need to take control, like the one where you need to snipe a helicopter pilot from quite a ways off to keep him from flying off with a prisoner you are in the process of liberating, but for the most part you can be in the mode of strategic commander, if that is what you like best – like I do.
The graphics are great. The game play is smooth, for the most part. (I did notice it getting a little choppy as I got more units into the fray – I am running on a P3 500 MHZ machine with 512M of RAM and a Gforce 2 video card) But the game looks and feels VERY nice. Both my son, who’s computer is very close to mine, and I both split up laughing on more than one occasion from some of the ‘chatter’ that took place between the various personalities captured in the soulcatcher chips.
These chips, would capture the mind of the pilot of the unit in the event that the unit got destroyed. They were initially used back in the days when conflict was normal, but have survived, thankfully, the years and are now serving you. This is one of the ways that the missions are bounded. You only have a limited amount of soulcatcher chips available to you each mission. After you get to know these various personalities, you will also get a good idea on which units you will need to create to accomplish the given mission. Some are accomplished fliers while others excel in tank situations and others are best suited for support roles. All these various roles are available and necessary in order to successfully accomplish a mission.
Oh yea, almost forgot. The designers have put day and night and even inclement weather into the game. This really adds to the hands-on feel you get from this game. It can also add to frustration as it begins to snow just as you have completed you first unit with the new sniper laser that you need. It is awful hard to draw a bead on a distant target when the world is covered in an active snowstorm. But that only adds to the feeling that you are actually there on the battlefield controlling those units to victory.
All in all this is a very satisfying game, if you are into this type of game. Hostile Waters: Antaeus Rising well deserves 3.5 GiN gems. If you are a fan of unit based type action / strategy games, as I am, the rating would get much closer to 5. Enough of this, time to get back and find out what the next mission will entail!