[gameinfo title=”Game Info” game_name=”” developers=”Biart” publishers=”505 Games” platforms=”” genres=”” release_date=”August 21, 2012″]
Third person shooters have taken us into space, under ground, through the air, and upside down. Jungles, deserts, rubble, and downtown have filled the environments. Deep Black’s developer, Biart, wanted to put out something a bit different for the genre. With experience in creating games solely based around underwater activity, they decided to take the third person shooter underwater with Deep Black. Deep Black doesn’t spend the whole time underwater as there are plenty of times that fighting will bring the player out into the rusty industrialist environments between excursions in the water.
The world of Deep Black is split into 2 factions as any good game must have it when describing futuristic warfare. You play Syrus Pierce, who is sent to an underwater stronghold in 2047. Your handler tells you what to do and by god you do it. Some shady business is going down and your handler is not being clear with you, much like the games plot is not being clear with the player. Better background stories can be found in old NES game manuals. Deep Black reeks of a game where story was just tacked on to explain the gameplay.
Pierce is armed with a pistol with unlimited ammo and a combat knife by default. He also has access to the usual fair of weapons found in shooters including an automatic weapon, sniper rifle, and shotgun. Underwater Pierce gains access to the harpoon, a multipurpose tool that hacks panels and enemies while also having the ability to yank enemies to you for sweet quicktime melee executions with the combat knife. Blindfire either from behind cover or running and gunning takes after it’s namesake with no cross hairs. While this might be typical behavior in first person shooters, it is much easier to line up the center of your screen with the enemy and come close unlike the third person shooter where it is a crap shoot due to the external frame of reference for the camera.
The cover system is typical of the genre with Pierce ducking down behind cover and having context controls to blind fire, aim down the sights, and to leave cover. Good or bad, just about everything you do behind cover besides hide exposes you to the enemy. Want to shift placement? Prepare to get shot because once you move, your head is exposed. In one way it is kind of realistic if it wasn’t ALL the time but on the other hand nothing sucks worse than getting dropped dead because you had to shift to the left of the cover to get better aim at the turret trying to blow you away. If you stay behind cover too long, the AI will attempt to bum rush you. If they get close, your only hope is to melee them but the quicktime melee cut-scene will leave you exposed for a good couple of seconds. It truly ends up a case of damned if you do and damned if you don’t. Play it risky and expose yourself. Play it safe and the AI will expose you.
Underwater cover works much the same way but feels a bit safer because of the way the physics affects the movement and accuracy of gunplay. The AI seems to hit you less underwater. The movement underwater is really well done and should be somewhat familiar to those that might have played Dead Space’s Zero G sequences. You can move up,down, forward, back, left, and right and can boost your speed for a small amount of time with some kind of propulsion system. The transition between air and water can be a bit distorting due to the camera not transitioning to the underwater view fast enough leaving you underwater but looking down at the surface unable to see who might be shooting you while taking the proper precautions. Once underwater, the game is fun but even those parts tend to get repetitive by the end of the game.
Graphically, Deep Black has an average engine that would look much better if not for the palette choice in the game. The dark palette muddies up the textures leaving one to wonder how exactly Biart released such stunning screenshots prior to release. The games almost don’t even look the same. Voice acting tends to get old real fast. Bad accents & poor action movie dialogue will leave most players not even able to get that “B Movie” enjoyment out of the game. The death sounds of the enemies are actually pretty sweet and actually improves the act of killing much like the confetti and cheer from Grunt Birthday Party skull in Halo makes people want to headshot more grunts.
Deep Black has a cool concept with the underwater gameplay and executes it well. Unfortunately, there is out of the water gunplay too and that isn’t executed so well. Several concepts that have become standard for the genre are present and they have all been done better elsewhere. Add in muddy graphics and bad voice acting and that underwater gameplay is the only saving grace of Deep Black. Hopefully Biart polish up their non water gameplay in future titles.