There are certain games you just can’t help but feel sorry for. Deep Black is a competent third-person shooter with a neat hook. The bulk of your time in the game takes place underwater, complete with a harpoon and even submerged cover-based action. It is fun, if not a bit archetypal. Still, releasing it right in the midst of Xbox Live’s latest promotional event, and without warning, means the majority of people didn’t see it coming, and will likely just ignore it. I can guarantee you, though, there is quite a bit of fun to be had here; even more so than the more high profile release of the day.
Deep Black is pretty much what you would expect from a third-person shooter. There is a cover mechanic, the characters spout profanities at each other in their military environment and of course, everything is a dire situation that we must attend to. You play as Pierce, an uber badass soldier sent in to save the day (as always) and, of course, break all the rules to get results. The story is par for the course with some truly atrocious dialogue at times, but considering I half expected the narrative to be laughable, I suppose this is a step up.
I can’t stress enough that Deep Black is about as standard of a game as you can get. It’s as if the developers took the “how to make a third-person shooter handbook” and copied it word-for-word. You take cover, your health regenerates and you’ve got a melee attack that results in an instant kill. You can pull the left trigger to pop-up out of cover and take out enemies, or shoot from the hip if you choose. Pierce even has a dodge roll, which is pretty much useless, but still meets the standards of the genre.
You will use your standard loadout of weapons along your journey, including a shotgun, machine gun and trusty pistol. The most unique weapon in your arsenal, though, is your harpoon. It can be used to take out enemies silently and hack devices like gates and drones. It can also stun some drones to allow you to pass. It is your lifeline in multiple situations, and it comes in handy quite often. As I said, this is par for the course here. Deep Black is pretty much what you expect from beginning to end. The game never strays from its safe formula, making it a predictable, but otherwise enjoyable, game.
There are some areas where Deep Black comes up short, though. For starters, the animations in the game are questionable at best. Watching Pierce dodge roll is pure, crystalized hilarity. As I mentioned earlier the dialogue is also atrocious at times; when enemies die they sound like a five-year old overacting a death sequence for far too long. It is embarrassing at times, and it makes you wonder if it is is just poorly done or if it is supposed to be funny. The damage system also flips out from time to time. You will take a plethora of bullets one minute and be fine, while the next minute two quick shots means you are dead. It works on both sides, too. Enemies can sometimes be bullet sponges, while other times they drop like a rock after a single shot. Inconsistency is not a good thing.
Visually, the game is attractive enough for what it is. I mentioned the canned animations, but outside of that it looks good. As it stands, this is a pretty solid experience at $10. Much like my colleague who reviewed the PC version, online multiplayer is a bust. It is there, but finding someone to hop online with is nearly impossible.
Deep Black: Episode One is an interesting game. It doesn’t do anything outstanding, nor does it do anything offensive. If you like third-person shooters, you will probably find some enjoyment here. I definitely recommend picking it up at the price point. The core game is a decent length, and the mechanics work. I actually really enjoyed the underwater segments. If you have a hankering for some underwater cover shooting, then Deep Black is easily worth checking out.
Review copy provided by publisher.