Dangerous Water is a highly-detailed, lovingly-crafted
multi-platform naval simulator from the good folks at Sonalysts Combat
Simulations. To my meager knowledge, it
is also one of the first games to actually combine so many different naval
platforms into a single, cohesive title.
Without a doubt, “Bubbleheads”, “Skimmers”, and “Airedales” will be
delighted at the proposition of commanding various subsurface, surface, and air
vehicles through the cat-and-mouse scenarios and campaigns. However, Dangerous
Waters is also, most assuredly, not for the casual gamer, and it is
downright hostile to seafaring newbies.
I am such a newbie.
This review is colored by the perceptions of complete and
total outsider to the world of naval simulation. I was, from the instant I installed Dangerous Waters, completely out of my
element. I tried to just jump in, as I
do with most games, which lead almost immediately to disastrous results. I fired up the simplest mission I could find,
one in which I was commanding a submarine ordered to pick out and destroy a
Right away I noticed that, while I could get a traditional
view of my vessel, almost none of the game play focuses on that aspect. Most of the game is spent moving from station
to station, dialing various displays and giving the occasional order. In my first few minutes, I managed to cause
my sub to begin “cavitating”, and, in a panic, I think I somehow launched all
of my countermeasures. Needless to say,
my quarry escaped and I was left scratching my head.
As painful as the learning process was for me, I gained a
quick appreciation for the incredible level of detail of each and every one of
the platforms highlighted in Dangerous
Waters. Players are able to take
command of one of several submarine, surface, and helicopter platforms. Each vessel is controlled through a series of
stations, laid out (I assume) like their real-world counterparts. Dials, small displays, and more military
acronyms than I care to ever see again fill the screen for most of the
game. Actually using these displays to
accomplish something is quite a challenging feat. Different radar arrays need to be calibrated
and analyzed, libraries of various sonar and radar patterns need to be accessed,
and courses need to be plotted so that the quarry’s actual position, range, and
heading can be triangulated. And all the
while, absolute stealth needs to be maintained, so that the prey won’t know
what’s coming and the potential hunters won’t know where to find you. To me, it was a nightmare of details, but to
the naval sim fan, this is gaming Nirvana.
At the beginning of each mission, a platform is chosen (or
mandated), the vessel can then be outfitted with the best armaments for the
mission, and the objectives are stated.
Most of the missions center around the hide-and-seek world of submarine
warfare, either from the subs’ or the sub-hunters’ point of view. Given this, many of the scenarios consist of
carefully and quietly searching out the proper target, coming up with a proper
firing solution, and initiating the attack.
Often I found that the attack launch was pretty much the end of the
mission, sort of an all-or-nothing culmination of hours of work. While this could be exciting at times, it
just wasn’t my cup of tea.
In addition to several single mission scenarios and quick
battles, a long campaign is included in Dangerous
Waters, starting off with a rebellion in part of the Russian Navy and
quickly escalating to encompass many of the world powers. Given the number of different choices to be
made in each of the campaign scenarios, and the various platforms and
strategies to try, there’s a great deal of depth and replay here. There’s also a very dedicated fanbase out
there to go to for tips, tricks, hints for brave newbies, or to challenge to
one of the multiplayer modes. I tend to
find that, the more narrow the niche for a particular game, the friendlier the community
and the community for Dangerous Waters
is no exception.
isn’t terribly impressive from a graphics viewpoint. All the platforms are very well modeled, but
the graphics themselves look several years out of date. Since most of the game actually takes place
while viewing static 2D display screens, there just isn’t much to justify lots
of bells and whistles. The audio effects
are almost non-existent, although there was nothing terribly
disappointing. The interface is most
assuredly not user-friendly. I struggled
a great deal with the various displays, mostly due to a lack of familiarity
with the different layouts. There is
also very little in the way of in-game help, not a problem for die-hard
simulation fans, but certainly a bother for me.
The game comes with a flimsy little manual, just enough to get everything
running, and a 580-page .pdf manual with all the crunchy bits. I highly, highly recommend printing this
monstrosity out or, better yet, ordering the published, spiral-bound manual
directly from Strategy First. If you’re
interested in the game, you’ll undoubtedly find the extra cost well worth
While I didn’t enjoy Dangerous Waters, this is a very solid and impressive entry into
the naval simulation genre. I certainly
am not going to penalize a good game just because it doesn’t meet my tastes. While not for everyone, Dangerous Waters will give naval simulation fans countless hours of
highly-detailed, well-designed enjoyment.
A highly-detailed, multi-platform naval simulator, perfect for fans of the genre. However, Dangerous Waters is also quite unfriendly toward newbies, so enter at your own risk.