Sunday, April 27, 2014

Steel Diver: Sub Wars First Impressions

Steel Diver: Sub Wars is a free to play 3DS game released earlier this year on the Nintendo eShop that is mainly a multiplayer submarine combat game that takes place in lakes, in . Personally I've been having quite a bit of fun with the multiplayer over the time I've had it and it's a decent game. Unfortunately, if you don't pay for the premium version the single player is six stages long and easily finished with some practice. The multiplayer is truly where the main experience is at, and I'll get to that in a minute. First I have to talk about the controls. Up and down on the joystick make your submarine surface or dive respectively. Left and right on it steers your sub. X and B are the "Forward" and "Reverse" buttons respectively. Y is active ping sonar and A fires your standard torpedoes. R fires homing torpedoes that track your target when you've got a lock, or as regular torpedoes when you don't lock on. L switches from the sonar GUI to the map-screen, which is invaluable during online matches to find out where you need to go for combat. The only mode in multiplayer that I know of is the bog-standard Team Deathmatch (Two teams, four versus four differentiated by red and blue GUI changes depending on what team you're) with a few extra mechanics tossed in on a few maps, where you and your opponents have supply ships that repair damage to your sub. You can sink your opponents suppliers and your opponents can sink yours as well, but most of the maps don't have them. Another thing is that there's only a handful of multiplayer maps, and there's only one environment setting for them, sunny daytime. The single-player maps have several weather settings and the addition of bombers in some maps that take out subs that remain on the surface for too long. Not to mention there's no options of playing the search and destroy single player maps online. I haven't been able to try out local multiplayer yet, since I've been busy in other endeavors. Most of the people I've been playing with have Japanese names, thus I assume that they are from Japan. Despite this, I didn't notice a whole lot of connection issues the way I did with Goldeneye on the Wii towards the end of its lifetime where most of the players were in Europe and remote parts of the United States like Mississippi........
Back on topic: I like this game. It's not perfect though, but since it's free I would recommend you download it if you have the SD card space. No, on to why it's not perfect. A) The collision detection leaves a lot to be desired. A lot of time when you think a torpedo should hit, it doesn't. And even more times when you watch a killcam after being sunk, you notice that in a game with better hit detection the torpedo would have gone right by. Now, I know that games are not perfect simulations of real life. Despite this, the hit box on your default submarine is just slightly larger than you would think it would be, and therefore grants far too many hits that would otherwise skate right by your sub. Another is the fact that, like Top Gun on the DS there is only one camera mode. While in Top Gun it was stuck at third person, in this game it's first person. While that is pretty much a requirement in driving games, and indeed flying games it's an unwelcome annoyance in this game. The thing is that the front of your sub takes up a good deal of the screen space, and while you can activate the periscope to look around, it doesn't move with your ship as you turn. The problem with the stock 3DS is that the periscope controls with the D-pad, which means taking your thumb off of the joystick. That keeps you from turning, or from being able to change your depth while you're looking around.
When I mentioned that the periscope doesn't move when your ship does, I mean it stays put. It's locked in place. You can't move the camera in periscope mode without using the D-pad. Not to mention that the radar and map-screens are inaccessible (And blurred over) during periscope mode. So periscope mode is useless. And it doesn't do what the periscope is supposed to do, show what's above the water without having to surface. At least it hasn't in my experience. The game isn't BAD by any means. But it's also not as good as it could have been. Almost everything that's wrong with it could be fixed by a patch. I don't know if the premium version is worth it, since I'm pretty much content with the features in the free version for now. Although it would be nice to play a few more of the levels in the single-player, there's no way of playing any of the modes they have with your friends. Now, my final criticism: In multiplayer there's no microphone chat. You have to communicate via Morse code, and while the gameplay itself isn't affect by international lag most of the time, Morse code almost never comes out properly. It takes way too long to type out, and it's less convenient than even typing the letters directly on the touchscreen would be. So communication with it is pretty much useless. The premium version only includes an extra five mission sets for the single player, while most of the benefits are for the multiplayer. I'm sorry, but this game needs a bunch more single-player mission sets before it's worth purchasing. Not to mention that most of the fun modes and mechanics from FPS's that they could have copied are missing. For instance: There's no story to the single player. There's no free-for all deathmatch, no capture the flag, no black box, no heroes, none of that. I'd advise against paying for the game if you're interested in it. All in all, I'm gonna say that it's about a 7.3* game. Not as polished as it could be, but still pretty good.
Aw crap, I forgot to talk about something else. The controls aren't as fluid as they could be. It's kinda hard to describe, but they just feel a little floaty to me. While that is the nature of water, it's kind of hard to get used to. Also, while the multiplayer maps are creative they grow old after a while, and there are several that I have a hard time navigating even with the map, because the map doesn't mark off terrain. So with all that taken into account, I'm going to bump the rating down to a 6.8* one. Not bad, but not great and certainly not worth ten dollars. I'll see you next week with more reviews! I'm planning on a double feature, but it might just wind up being a single one. I've been Sakura Samurai on the 3DS recently, so that's probably gonna be it.