Following the exploits of momentarily-retired amphibious marine, Lieutenant Pierce, Deep Black is an inadequate, out-dated entry to the third person action genre, crippled further by its hap-handed subaquatic emphasis.
Set in the near future with nations vying for power under a bio-nuclear threat, you are dispatched to investigate a terrorist cell who are said to be developing a chemical weapon of immense power. The tables soon turn however as Pierce realises he’s booked himself for Glastonbury and not karaoke night at the local village hall. It’s typical contemporary sci-fi and executed in such a way that key characters and events will slip straight under the radar.
Indie developer Biart is fairly new to the gaming scene, though it doesn’t take a mastermind to spot a common theme in its pipeline of multi-platform releases; a distinct focus on under-water gameplay. However, what sounds like an intuitive combination of gunplay and water aerobics falls flat on its face.
Players will alternate between swimming and ground sections, though the difference is hard to trace, neither part of the game exuding any measure of creativity. Battling on terra firma is your conventional cover-based affair, featuring a bleak arsenal of weaponry and braindead enemies; it feels like an incredibly diluted take on Gears of War and fares no better when in the drink.
Spread across 40 stages and 4 different environments Deep Black carries at least 7-8 hours of game time on its shoulders, though making it past the first hour will require an ample dose of tolerance. The game also features multiplayer, though with only two modes and a small selection of maps it doesn’t add much to the overall experience (that’s if you can actually find anyone to play with.)
Audio work is passable, and the accompanying tracks help to anchor the universe in which Deep Black is set. The voice acting is different story however; performances just manage to scrape above the sub-par threshold though are ultimately weighed down by poor scripting. Dialogue seems forced and lacks character, always missing the mark.
The only redeeming aspect Deep Black has to offer is its visuals. The game suffers from a lack of variety, mainly present in character and environmental design, though there is still a sense of immersion to be had when traversing under water caverns and sub-bases. Menus and overlays also well-presented, but as a whole, you can find much better-looking games knocking about, especially in the third person action genre.
- Looks impressive in places.
- Gunfights are sluggish and drawn out.
- Under water sections are not what they could have been.
- Transparent plot focus with one dimensional characters.
- Lacks variety.
No matter how much potential the game once had, the end result is something playable that fails to leave much of an impact.
Exploration feels limited and the gunplay is arguably bare-boned with little sense of engagement or reward. If you can somehow invest yourself in the shallow narrative and repetitive design then chances are that Deep Black will satisfy, but to a much wider audience it’s an incredibly hard sell given the asking price, not to mention the wasted potential.