Review By Peiter Anderson
Admittedly I have heard of Aquanox before, yet never had the pleasure of playing the original game that spawned this sequel. But I am sure if you were a fan of the original, then Revelation will intensify the urge that you had, when playing the original, to dive in your local swimming pool armed and dangerous.
Your journey begins in the year 2666. After centuries of neglect the Earth has become desolate and inhabitable, with many finding refuge in the ocean depths known as ‘Aqua’. You start out as a young, wet behind the ears freighter pilot turned wannabe adventurer William Drake, often too caught up in his own daydreams to notice what is going on.
Upon starting your grand adventure you receive what is perceived as a urgent distress call. Leaving your freighter unarmed and unlocked you go about your rescue mission, only to find that you’re the one who may need rescuing when it turns out that the urgent S.O.S was actually from a pirate looking to kill you and take your freighter. The freighter that you left unarmed and vulnerable is taken over by pirates leaving you at their whim.
This is where you stop watching the gorgeous opening FMV’s and step into the hot seat. Having said that I never played the first game I did not know really what to expect. I was expecting a cross between a FPS and a SIM. Although I was somewhat on target, it feels more like a point and click adventure games at times. When you are not in your ship, you are giving the option of exploring your surroundings, however you cannot walk around freely, you are given a selection of places on a certain map which you must point and click to interface with. The same method is applied when interacting with people, I found myself sometimes just skipping all the chit-chat, and instead clicking to rush straight to the underwater action. For me the in-game interaction and exploring was not gripping enough, and could not hold me from wanting to get into a sub and get my hands dirty.
It is not to say that the in-game interactions are underperformed or graphically not up to par, as each character has their own distinguishing charm and charisma that does not get overlooked by bad animation and syncing. Even though you cannot free walk around each area, when you are entering any surroundings they are always active and well animated. It does not feel like you are looking at a picture each time, and you can also hear the faint ramblings of a drunken comrade, or the shriek of laughter from the female crew which is a nice touch. I would have liked to see more animations or facial expressions, or even new distinctive articles of clothing on the images of characters you meet, as looking at the same image all the time really loses its charm.
When you do actually get to experience the ‘Aqua’ world, the game really starts to shine. Each setting is well thought out and preserved, giving the eerie murky depths a lifelike stance. You are always surrounded by towering masses of rock and desolate flooded habitats that bring the desolation of earth into the fold. Before each mission you are given the opportunity to select which weapons and missiles you would like to equip for the forthcoming mission. Also during each mission you can either destroy your enemy with the hope to salvage anything that may be lying around, or you can disable your opponent rendering them useless for a member of the crew to come and pickup the pieces that can be added to your arsenal later. This option gives a wealth of opportunity when deciding how to equip your ship as you have many ways of purchasing new weapons and upgrades. Using the same process to gather weapons you can also disable some ships to add them to your every growing collection. Some are faster, stronger or can hold more weapons than others, which means you are not left using the same ship for half the game. My only quibble with the environment and levels is that the scenery does tend to look the same from level to level. It would have been nice to see if they could have changed the landscape, or made it seem like you are visiting new and different surroundings.
The musical score is excellent, capturing every fight in its full adrenaline-rushing climax. Each adventure in the gloomy murky beyond is captured with full, intense and nail biting scores. The music only really applies to the action or sub sequences, and that is where you mostly will find it; during the actual interfacing game there is no real music to speak of, apart from the background sounds of the inhabitants that lurk around the seedy ports and bars.
Aquanox 2 at first was not what I expected. I was expecting more of a full FPS mixed with the odd underwater battle. I was not that impressed at first, I felt cheated that you had to point and click and listen to a fairly weak storyline before I could get my hands on a ship. But I was slowly swayed by the mix of point and click & adventure by some very nice voice over and the even stronger playability of the game. The levels are very nice, however somewhat repetitive, but with the mix of music and action really play off as you delve deeper into the aquatic storyline. The characters are mildly engaging, but the animations and voices of the characters really bring it to life. Overall the mix of action and adventure really pays off as the game submerges you into the aquatic beneath.