If there is one genre that is sorely lacking in videogames it is submarine simulations. Now for the entertainment of my review I want you to read the rest of this with a Sean Connery accent for full effect. Naval Assault: Killing Tide is the latest release from 505 Games, who have quickly become the poster child for obscure releases. This submarine simulation attempts to straddle the line between arcade and simulation with a messy outcome. The game never seems to settle on an audience and in the process becomes tedious and somewhat boring, and that is even by submarine simulation standards.
Things begin to fall apart right from the beginning. Not being a naval expert myself I decided to throw on the training mission to get accustomed to the controls. Being such a novice I actually didn’t mind that there were only three depth settings and a handful of speeds; this made controlling this massive war machine a cinch. Once it taught me the basics of switching between weapons and navigation I was tasked with making my way to the exit without being noticed. This requires you to dive to the bottom and slow down.
With only a couple inches on the map to cover this won’t take long right? Well twenty minutes later I am still staring at the mini-map awaiting my arrival. This quickly becomes a trend in Killing Tide. You spend a majority of your time watching the map waiting on your sub to reach its destination. Now I realize that this is probably pretty accurate, but a good videogame experience it does not make.
The repetition of this formula continues to drive home the fact that most players wanting a solid submarine game are not going to tolerate the snail’s pace Naval Assault offers. Missions rarely move outside of the three core concepts: stealth, survival and onslaught, and quickly become more of a chore as you get further into the game. I imagine that if the developers had gone for a more realistic approach with controls and such that aficionados would have a field day, but tapping one button to increase speed or surface is really quite mind-numbing.
The combat fares a little better and serves as one of the most rewarding parts of the game. Manning the gun turrets on the deck and mowing down waves of fighters is satisfying. I also love how you can dismantle other ships by targeting specific parts. The explosions rock your sound system and serve as the most exciting part of the experience. Unfortunately it comes too few and far between when playing; especially when you embark on a stealth mission. During these endeavors I would either make myself a snack or simply switch over to another video channel while my sub slogged its way to the destination. Yes it truly is that exciting.
The campaign certainly comes packed with plenty to do; the problem is you won’t likely feel like continuing after a few missions. There is an online mode that I would love to talk about but every time I got online and tried to queue up a match, there was no one to be found. If the community is this dead in the beginning, I imagine it will be near impossible to find a match as little as a week after release.
If all of that wasn’t enough the game also looks abhorrent. The simplistic environments and dirty textures remind me of an early PS2 game and even at times late PSOne titles. The sub models are decent and the explosions are exceptional, but everything else looks absolutely archaic. Sound wise the same applies, explosions are the highlight, everything else feels like background noise; especially the atrocious voice work.
cNaval Assault: Killing Tide is a disappointment all around. Fans of the genre will scoff at the visuals and simplicity, while more casual players will grow bored of its tedious missions and slow-paced gameplay. It is a shame that we have still yet to have a stellar submarine-type game for the new consoles but don’t let that trick you into picking up this title. There really is nothing here to warrant your purchase. The online community is null and void and I guarantee this will end up in the bargain bins within the next month or two.
Review copy provided by publisher.