|10-10-2008, 04:47 AM||#1|
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: Glasgow, Scotland
Developer: Massive Development
Publisher: Blue Byte Software
Archimedean Dynasty was one of those games that, as a kid, you couldn't get enough of. The seedy storylines, the free-roaming gameplay and the colourful characters came together to create a genuinely vibrant and intruiging world. The first of a series of 'Sub-Surface Simulations', it set the benchmark for future games such as AquaNox and SubCulture. Anyone who was a fan of Wing Commander : Privateer should make every effort to get hold of a copy.
Plot: In the distant future, the world has become a nuclear wasteland, leaving the surface uninhabitable. Instead of opting for the usual sci-fi cliche of finding a new planet, mankind decents into the briney deep for it's salvation, where a company called EnTrOx develops a monopoly on clean water, air, and high-speed underwater travel. You are Emerald 'DeadEye' Flint, a mercenary trying to scrape together a living escorting convoys and mopping up pirates since your release from prison. During a reletively benine mission to escort a sulphur transport, all hell breaks loose when the Shogunate, a radical pirate faction, appear... leaving our protagonist the sole survivor and hostage of the infamous 'Hong Long'. After a brief stint at her pleasure, Flint is ejected in an escape pod which is summarily collected by a passing freighter and deposited at the underwater city of Magellan, where an *ahem* associate of yours by the name of El Toro is waiting for an explanation of what happened to his sulphur. You have to make this up, and fast!. From the initial missions, our protagonist will venture all over the globe through the murky waters (being careful to avoid the nulcear fallout of the surface) conspiring with Pirates, Radicals, the Atlantic Federation and even the occasional deity on his journey to unravel the mystery of the 'Biont' and the threat they pose to every sub-jockey out there.
Graphics: At the time the 3D undersea world and interactive cityscapes were second to none, and even today can be said to be head-and-shoulders above other sim games of the era, utilising SVGA and a 640x480 resoloution. The cutscenes are, although a little fuzzy in places, outstanding and really add to the sense of depth you feel in the game.
Sound & Music: Eerie music, very much what you'd imaging in a post-apocyaliptic sub-surface civilization which adds to the suspense and darker side of the game. Dialogue is voice-acted well, adding another level of immersion.
Gameplay: Like an adventure game Achimedean Dynasty has an environment of a detailed whole world to explore. The advanced dialog system has some multiple choices and digitized speech which lets you decide the next course of action, and whom to trust. You interact with over 100 characters. You can get the information you need, make the right decisions, equip your ship, then take the controls and navigate to the necessary coordinates.
You have to deal with political elements, opposing powers, companies and religious groups. You can choose who to ally with but the choices have their consequences. Hints in the game and from the way they talk and act should help you to decipher who is to be trusted and who is not. Moving about is by mouse, where you click on hot spots which lead to other locations in the game.
Combat and exploration in the underworld is pretty straightforward with the similar elements of a cockpit viewport, damage on enemy systems and all the trappings of a flight simulator. Money gained from successful missions is used to upgrade your present submarine. There are two dozen torpedo types, decoys, a dozen guns, several shield types, and other devices that you can outfit the ship with. The combat simulator is very similar to a flight combat simulator with joystick control. Currents and reverse thrust are two differences however. Currents can and do carry the craft about without any controls being activated and Reverse thrust will actually allow you to back up.
In many ways the game represents Wing Commander : Privateer and it's sequel The Darkening. You can roam around and do what you like accepting contracts or not and you get to explore the entire underwater world.
A electronic notebook of happenings is another device that helps you keep track of the game. The notebook has a world map, a map of the local zone you are in, the conversation hints gathered, and also keeps track of present tasks and missions.
Downsides: The only major downside in my view is the lack of vessels you get to pilot throughout the game, as there are only four. Having said that, it does help to reinforce the harsh realities of mankind's situation in the game and the fact that technology is strictly controlled by the shadowy EnTrOx Corp.
Overall: In my humble opinion, one of the finest simulation games to come out of the 90's, seemlessly combining elements of Simulation, Adventure and RPG to create a truly unique and satisfying gaming experience.
10/10 if you love your Simulation/Adventure games, and even if you don't, it's definately worth a look for it's unique storyline and colourful characters.
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